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them, that he will raise the Dead, and SÈRM. judge the World at the Last Day, that IV. they might behave themselves like Beings, who are accountable for their Actions And, if we consider the whole Scheme of the Christian Religion, we shall find, that its chief Tendency is, to direct the Practice, and better the Manners of Men ; and that those Doctrines, which do not pursue this End, are not necessary to be believed, and though they may be canvaffed by learned Men, with too much unbecoming Heat and Animosity, yet an honest and good Christian may safely be ignorant of them.

Not only the Doctrines, but the Exercises of our Devotion, are enjoined us for the same excellent End. For it is a low and mean Notion, and unworthy the Nature of God, to imagine that God has commanded us to pray unto him, or to praise him, or to hearken to his Word, for any Benefit or Advantage he reaps by it ; no, God is exalted above all the Praise of Men and Angels; he is perfectly hapру in himself, and not only contains all that is good, but is the ever-flowing Fountain, from whence all good Things do proceed ; and, therefore, the devotional Parts of our Religion are enjoined us, VOL. II.

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because

Serm, because they are the proper Means by IV. which his Grace is conveyed into the Souls

of Men, and they are hereby inclined to perform good and virtuous Actions. Thus Praying to God begets an Awe of God's Divine Majesty in our Minds, and, by Consequence, a Fear of offending him ; Praising him begets grateful Resentments of his Benefits : By hearing his Word, we are instructed in our Duty, and, by renewing our baptismal Vow, in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, we confirm and strengthen our Resolutions of performing it: Every religious Duty, conscientiously performed, makes our Wills more conformable to God's Divine Will, and infuses into the Soul a Principle of Action.

4. Let us consider, that good Works are absolutely necessary to Salvation. A good Life fits and prepares us for Happiness ; and Glory hereafter is only the Perfecting those virtuous Dispositions and Habits, which we have obtained in this Life. Our Happiness in the other World will consist in living up to the purest and most refined Dictates of fanctified Reason, and in being more pure, more holy, and more beneficent than we can be in this Life: So that he, who sets up for eternal Happiness, must lay the Founda- SERM. tion of it in good Works, in rescuing himself IV, from the Tyranny of his Passions, and sensual Desires, and giving himself up tothe Conduct of Reason, and the Inspirations of the Holy Spirit.

eternal

5. I SHALL consider the Motive contained in the Text. Let us reflect how great an Obligation we lie under to perform good Works, that others, being allured by our Example, may be prevailed on to imitate it, and hereby to glorify our Father which is in Heaven. They may glorify God on a double Account; either, first, For the Benefit they receive from our good Works; or, fecondly, They may glorify God by doing likewise, and imitating our Example. For it is a common and very true Observation, that Example is more prevalent than Precept; and we are sooner led by what we see others do, than persuaded by what they say. The Soul, when first yoaked to the Body, is (as some Philosophers tell us) a Blankpaper, upon which nothing is writ, but has a natural Instinct and Inclination to take in Ideas and Notices of Things by the Sense, and from thence to collect general Propositions : Hence it is, that Man is so naturally given to Imitation ; for, G2

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Serm. since it requires a great deal of Pains and
IV. Trouble, and a long Series of Premises

and Conclusions, to attain to the Know-
ledge of Things by the Dint of Reason;
therefore, he is inclined to take the nearer
Course, and easier Method, and by fol-
lowing the Tract in which others have
gone before him, to obtain this End. Ex-
ample is an Appeal to the Senses, and
makes a deeper Impression on our Minds,
than the most persuasive Rhetoric; the
good Works of a virtuous Man are fre-
quently repeated, they give Line upon Line,
and Precept upon Precept, and, by still pref-
sing, imitating, and stirring us up to be
virtuous, and representing the Charms of
Virtue to the Senses in the most lively
Manner, extort Veneration even from those
Persons who are not willing to practise
it. And,

Lastly, GOOD Works demonstrate the
Possibility of living up to the Rules of
Virtue and Religion,' and that it is in our
Power to yield such an Obedience to the
Laws of God, as the Holy Gospel re-
quires of us ; and hereby they obviate the
chief Objection of the loose and sensual
Person; he will tell you, that the Scheme
and Theory of Religion is beautiful and
orderly, that he cannot but admire its ex-

cellent

cellent Laws, and wife Sanctions; but Serm. that here lies the Defect, that its Pre- IV. cepts are too pure, for the corrupt Nam ture of Mankind to comply with, and the Rule too straight to lie level with our crooked Dispositions: It lays too great a Restraint upon our Passions and Appetites, and enjoins such exact Discipline as is not possible to be observed: And therefore, as a late Cardinal wickedly and profanely affirmed, since human Nature is so much depraved, that it cannot come up to the Rule, therefore, the Rule ought to be bent till it complies with it; and the Holy Scripture ought to be so interpreted, as to indulge Men in their sensual Courses. But, now, when we consider the good Works of virtuous and religious Persons, these are a plain Confutation of this Objection, and teach us, that there is no Affliction fo grievous, but may be borne with Patience, no Temptation so violent, but may be conquered, no Pleasure so charming which may not be refused, no Virtue fo heroical which

practised, and that all Things are possible to a Christian, through Christ, who strengthens him. Let Men and Devils combine ae gainst him, and join all their Forces, yet,

with

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