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SER M. shall be miserable, and undone for ever. And every
man that believes a God, and the revelations which
And this will appear upon these two accounts.
2. Every man who believes the revelations which God hath made, cannot but be satisfied, how much
religion is his interest from the promises and threat- SERM.
in CCXXIV. nings of God's word. God in his word hath in
natn mun plain and express terms promised everlasting glory and happiness to them that obey him ; and hath threatened wicked men with dreadful and eternal punishments ; " to them that by patient continuance « in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and im« mortality," he hath promised “ eternal life: but to “ them that obey not the truth, but obey unrighteous« nefs," he hath threatned “ indignation and wrath, " tribulation and anguish.” Now if we believe the gospel, which assures us of another life after this, and a future judgment which will determine all men to a state of everlasting happiness, or misery, we cannot but know it to be our interest, by all possible means to endeavour to attain the happiness which God hath promised, and to avoid the misery' which he hath threatned. All men naturally defire happiness, and dread mifery and destruction ; and these desires and fears are intimate to our natures, and can never be feparated from them; because they'' Aow immedrately from those principles of self-love, and self-prefervation, which are deeply rooted in every man's heart; and are woven into the very make and frame of his nature, and will last as long as our beings. And so long as these principles remain in us, there is no man that is firmly persuaded of the promises and threatnings of the gofpel, but must believe it to be his highest interest to be religious." Fear and hope are the two pássions whièh govern ús ; hope is as it were the spur that quickens us to our duty, and fear is the curb that restrains us from sin; and the greater the good hoped for, or the evil that is feared, the -greater power and influence these passions have upon us,' Now there cannot be a greater good, than cont
SER M. plete and everlasting happiness ; nor a greater evil, CCXXIV.
V;than extreme and eternal misery. So that whoever
believes the promises and threatnings of the gospel, hath his hope raised to the expectation of the greatest good and happiness in case of obedience; and his fears extended to the expectation of the greatest evil and misery in case of final impenitency and disobedience. And a true divine faith doth contain in it both this hope and fear: for a faith in the promises of the gospel is nothing else, but the hopes of eternal life; and a belief of the threatnings of the gospel is nothing elle, but the fear of hell and eternal misery. So that a firm belief of the promises and threatnings of the gospel, must needs have as great influence upon men to make them religious, as the highest hopes and greatest fears can have : fand those men that are not moved by the hopes of the greatest good, nor by the fears of the greatest danger, are not to be wrought upon in human ways, nothing will prevail with them.
»Thus I have shewn you, what influence a divine faith hath upon religion ; for as much as whoever believes there is a God, and that the scriptures are the word of God, is fully fatished and convinced how reasonable it is, and how much it is his interest to be religious. I come in the last place to the application of this discourse.
First, this shews why there is so little of true religion in the world; it is for want of faith, without which it is impossible for men to be religious. Men are not firmly persuaded that, there is a God; that there is a being above them that is omniscient, and knows every thing that they do, and takes notice of every word, and thought, and action ;; that is so good, and so powerful, as to make those happy that love and obey him, and so juft and powerful, as to
make make those miferable who hate him, and rebel againft SER M. him. Men are not persuaded that their fouls are
CCXXIV. immortal; and that there is another life after this, in which men shall be happy or miserable to all'eternity, according 'as they demean themselves in this world. Men are not firmly persuaded that the feriptures are the word of God, and that the precepts and prohibitions of the bible are the laws of a great King, who will amply reward the observance of his laws, and severely vindicate the breach and violation of them. Men do not believe that the promises and threatnings of God's word are true, and that every jot and tittle of them shall be accomplished. For did men believe these things, they would be religious ; they would not dare to live in any known sin or impiety of life : unless we can presume that a man can be seriously unwilling to be happy, and have a longing desire to be miserable and undone for ever. For whoever believes the principles of religion, and the precepts, and promises, and threathings that are contained in this holy book, and yet after all this can continue in sin, he must not only put off the principles of a reasonable creature, but must quit the very inclinations of his nature ; that is, he must knowingly refuse that which he naturally desires, which is happiness, and must embrace that which of all things that can be imagined he most abhors, and that is misery.
So that if men were verily persuaded, that the great, and holy, and just God looks continually upon them, and that it is impossible to hide from him any thing that we do, they would not dare to commit any fin in his sight, and under the eye of him who is their Father and master, their sovereign and their judge, their friend and benefactor, who is invested
SERM. with all these titles, and stands to us in all these relai CCXXIV..
stions, which may challenge reverence and respect.
Did men believe the holiness and justice of God, that he hates sin, and will not let it go unpunished, would they venture to make him a witness of their wickedness, who they believe will be the avenger of it? Did men believe that they shall live for ever, and that after this short life is ended, they must enter upon eternity; that when they leave the world, there are but two ways which all men must go, either into life everlasting, or into eternal and intolerable torments; did men believe this, would they not with all posfible care and diligence endeavour to attain the one, and avoid the other? Were men poffest with a belief of eternity, how would they dispise temporal and transitory things ? how would they neglect che concernments of this life, and overlook the little impertinencies of time, and refer all their thoughts, and cares, and endeavours to eternity ? this great and important interest would so fill their minds, and take up their thoughts, and employ their utmost cares, | and endeavours, and diligence, that they would scarce regard, or speak, or think of any thing else ; they would be restless and impatient, till they had secured this grand affair and concernment; they would subordinate all the interests of this world to that of the other, and make all the concernments of time to stoop to the grand concernment of eternity. Thus men would do, were they but firmly. persuaded chat there is another life after this, to which this bears no proportion..
Did men believe the scriptures to be the word of God, and to contain matters of the highest importance to our everlasting happiness; Would they neglect it and lay it aside, and study it no more than a
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