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SERM. and followed, let us eat and drink, fir to XII morrow we die. But though this may be

applied to some professed believers, whose practical governing principles are really atheistical whatever their professions and speculations be; it is impossible and a contradiction that such sentiments should habitually rule in the minds of truly pious and virtuous men; they are as much convinced of the contrary as they can be of any truth; they do not join with the many who say, who will shew unto us any good, uncertain wherein true good confifteth, and incessantly pursuing it, with earnest unsatisfied desire, through all the variety of business and enjoyments in this life, but they agree with the Pfalmift in his choice and fervent prayer, that God would lift on bim the light of his countenance, persuaded that the divine favour is a solid foundation of inward joy, that it giveth true satisfaction and contentment, and putteth gladness into the heart more than the increase of corn and wine, the greatest abundance of all temporal enjoyments. But though this is a principle in which all religious persons, the children of light, are agreed, indeed essential to all religion, for this is the faith without which a man cannot receive any thing from God, as St. Yames teacheth us, and without which he is


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double minded and unstable in all bis ways: SERM.
Yet is it very proper that we should revolve XII.
it often in our thoughts, and take pains to
inculcate it on our minds ; for no principle
will, especially this will not operate, unless
it be carefully attended to, seeing we have
always suggestions from our senses which
have a tendency contrary to it. Let us,
therefore, often meditate on the necessary
difference between good and evil, the dignity
and excellence of the former and the turpitude
of the latter, which must appear to our
minds as often as we attend to it deliberately;
on the moral government of the supreme be-
ing over all rational creatures and moral
agents, from which we cannot but infer that it
shall be well with the righteous and ill with
the wicked; and let us frequently consider
the express declarations of the holy fcripture,
relating to the different parts of our own con-
ftitution and their interests, to the present and
future state. Our blessed Saviour putteth
these plain questions, strongly insinuating how
much it concerneth us to provide for our
souls preferably to our bodies, what mall it
profit a man if be seuld gain the whole world
and lose bis own foul? And what shall a man
give in exchange for his soul? The apostlc
teacheth us, that the pleasures of fin are but


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SER M. for a season, and they end in extreme misèry';
XII. that the rewards of true piety are exceeding

great and everlasting, that the light afflictions
which are but for a moment work for good
men an exceeding great and eternal weight of
glory. By a serious and affectionate medi-
tation on thefe, and such like doctrines, which
are most assuredly believed among christians,
and which are the fundamentals of christianity,
we should be able to see the important dif-
ference between the false and true riches,
that the former are upon a comparison indeed
the least, and the other much.
• We may farther observe upon this head,
that God hath wisely ordered the circum-
stances of this life in subordination to another.
The enjoyments of our present state are the
means of trying our vertue, and the occasions
of exercising it, that so by a due improvement
of them to that purpose, we may be prepared
for the perfection of virtue, and compleat
happiness hereafter. .

The powers of the human foul, the better part of our constitution, are naturally capable of improvement, and we cannot set limits to that measure of improvement which they may attain; but this we know, that the mind is making continual progress in its moral condition good or bad, that is, it is either


growing better or worse, and consequently Serm•
advancing in happiness or finking deeper into XII.
misery. And this is suitable to our present
ftate, considered as probationary, which being
a design'd preparation for a future fixed and
permanent condition of more perfect good or
evil, both moral and natural, should have
in it the means of both; that is, we should
have the opportunity of making proficiency
in knowledge, and of increasing in rectitude
and integrity, which is the highest perfection
and enjoyment of our minds; and there must
be temptations to evil. But, now, so it is
wisely ordered that both these are contained
in the interests and affairs of the animal life,
so that while we are employed about these
lower things, which perish in the using, and
are confined to the present life, and eternally
separated from us by death ; we are at the
fame time, and by the very fame actions,
fitting ourselves for our future state. In the
world, as the apostle John teacheth, are the
lusts of the flesh, and the lufts of the eye,

the pride of life, that is, the objects by which
we are tempted to sensuality, covetousness,
and pride; but the very fame objects by dif-
ferent exercises and dispositions of mind, may
be, and are the occasions and instruments of
Z 2


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Serm. virtue, and thereby, when we fail, they shall Xll. receive us into everlasting habitations. o This might be illustrated in a variety of

particular instances, indeed, in the whole compass of our worldly affairs, which according as they are conducted, either minister to virtue or vice. By the various uncertain events of life, as some are tempted to different distracting passions, to eager anxious defire, to fear and forrow, fo there is to better disposed minds, an opportunity of growing in felf-dominion, in an equal and uniform temper, and a more earnest prevalent desire of true goodness, which is iinmutable in all external changes; in afflictions there is a trial and an increase of patience, which is of fo much moment, as to be represented in fcripture as the height of religious perfection; for as the apostle James teacheth, chap. i. 3; 4. the triat of faith, by what he calleth temptations, that is, troubles, worketh patience, and if patience hath its perfect work, then are pe perfect and intire, wanting nothing. And, particularly to the purpose of the text, things which are in their nature good, tending immediately to the fatisfaction and conveniency of life, are to be considered as talents committed to our trust; and as they are principally intended by the donor, not so much for felfish enjoyment as


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