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SERM. The Kingdom of God and his Righte- VI. ousness being then thus to be fought, we are' next to consider that they are also to be fought before all Things, as well on account of their inherent Excellence, as of their benign Influence. Our Rule in the Text is, Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his Righteoufnefs. Let this be your main Émployment ; and if not your sole, yet your principal Care: Let not the Comforts or Conveniencies of this Life, nor any Advantages the present World can afford, be in the least regarded, when, they come in Competition with the Duties God has enjoined and the Rewards he will bestow, and the Reason why the Preference is so entirely given to those is, because they are in Fack infinitely the more valuable.
The most exalted Degrees of earthly Wealth and Grandeur, are as nothing when compar'd with the Riches of God's Grace, and the Glories of his Kingdom, and if any think that the former deserve to rival the latter in their Efteem, let the wife Preacher convince them of their Folly ; who in the Beginning of his Ecclefiaftes, as elegantly, as truly proves, all temporal Enjoyments
Serm. to be no other than Vanity itself, and in
VI. the End sums up all in favour of Virtue n and Piety as the Foundation of solid Hap,
piness, Let us hear, says he, the Conclusion of the whole Matter, Fear God and keep his Commandments (b). If you would secure the most desirable Event of Things, let the Ser: vice of God be your chief Study s let. Religion be your first Care, This is the one Thing needful, and ought to be attended to not only above, but before all other Confiderations whatever...... . . ,
- As for all other Things which Mortals most eagerly court and pant after, What can they profit? How mean, empty, and pitiful they are; how precarious and fleeting, how snort-lived and perishing, and withal how fatal and deadly ? Such is the encroaching Quality of the World, that where once it ; gets Footing it will never rest, till it gets also the Ascendant, it will never leave till it banishes the Love of God, and all Regard to his Favour ---it will never be content till it has drawn off the Mind from the most valuable. Objects of Eternity, and fixed it on the vain , and worthless. Things of this Life.
?; "I WERE (6) Eccles: xii. 13.
Serm. WERE these Advantages of the Body as VI. really excellent and substantial as our Appetites and Passions would insinuate, yet if the Effects of them are so very terrible to the Soul, and destructive of its true Happiness ---if they retard its Progress towards Heaven, and too often prevent its ever reaching God's, everlasting Kingdom, Is it possible for Men to justify their Conduct, eyen to that self-love which so much governs them, whilst they forfeit for the Sake of present Gratifications, all Right to future Glory? .. .
And to set their Imprudence in a still more glaring Light, as they ruin their eternal Interests by not seeking first the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness, fo. do they likewise prejudice their temporal, by forfeiting his Protection, and calling down his Judgments upon them for their Disobedience and Contempt. They are commanded to take one course, and they perverlly pursue another: God requires them to turn their Hearts, and raise their Affections towards his Service and the Blessedness which attends it, but they will keep them groveling on the Creature, and relish nothing
SERM. beyond carnal Pleasure. What Wonder is it
VI. then that he should baulk them in their low m View%,r--that he should frustrate thofe- Projects
they criminally form,---that he hould give chem Disappointment where they look for Succefs, ---that he should pour down Ruin upon them instead of Prosperity? Whereas, would we but deign to think our Saviour wifer than ourselves to receive our Directions from him and walk in the way which he has marked out for us'; how beneficial would the Event prove? As we should find unutterable Delights at our Journey's. End, so should we meet with proper Accommodations on the Road thither, and to be assured of this, we may reft ourselves, not on bare humanr Probability, but on Christ's Divine Teftimony, who has promised, that if we seek first, the Kingdom of God and bis Righteouf· Stefso. all these Things shall be added unto us, no earthly Goods shall be with-held which God: sees to be cither needful or convenient for us : Besides the immense Rewards of everlafting Glory, which will be the certain Refult of our desiring them with Vehemence and pursuing them with Vigour, God will never; leave us nor forsake us; and though her has not tied himself down to the Sorts and Degrees of worldly Emoluments, yet
we have his Engagement for the necessary Serm. Supports of Life:: He will afford us Sublift- VI. ance, if not abundance;---he-will administer a Supply of Conveniencies, if not of Superfluities:
But even this we are not to depend upon withoup all poffibility of Failure , when it is promifad, only in general, and will be bestowed no otherwise than according to the Constitution of Nature and the settled Method of Providence : No miraculous Act of Power is to be waited for on our Behalf; and whilst we are under God's peculiar Care, we must not think to be exempt from the common Calamities of Mankind, nor from the many times unavoidable Sufferings of the Righteous. There is however this Matter of Comfort to all who set their Hearts upon the Things above, and" piously seek them according to God's Appointment, that whatever Share they poffefs of the Things below, it is rendered truly a Bleffing, and whatever Evils of Life be the Portion of their Cup, their Bitterness is sweetened and their Load sanctified, fo as to leave no room for Disquiet of Impatience: They feel in. ward spiritual Joy in the midst of Af fliction, and having Food and Raiment, learn therewith to be content: In Peace and