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S E R M. the juftnefs and the force of his reafoning, V. Jfaiahlv. 2, 3. Wherefore da ye fpend your 'money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which fatisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that "which Js good, and let your foul delight iff elf infatnefs; incline your ear to me, and come; hear^ and your foul Jhall live. And, to the fame purpofe, our Saviour, John vi. 27. Labour. not for the meat 'which perijketb, bitf Jor that which endureth to everlajiing life; which the Son of Man Jhall give unto you, for him bath God the Father fealed. It is very ftrange that human nature fhould be fa infatuated, fo loft to its true intereft, and the proper ufe of its higher powers, as to be led entirely by fenfe, and give itfelf up to the dijre&ion of appetites and paflions; which upon the leaft confideration muft appear to be the lower part, and far from the principal end of our being. Yet fo it is, that many men, even chriftians, are governed by their brutifh inclinations, and aim at nothing higher than gratifying them: But befides that this is moft unreafonable and unworthy of men, it is directly contrary to the profeffion of religion, the proper end of which is to obtain the favour of the Lord.
idly, The way to obtain this end is plain- Serm. iy marked out to us in fcripture, particularly V. jn this Text; and it is very inexcufable folly and thoughtlefnefs if we miftake it. Suppofing men to have a general perfuafion that the favour of God is of the greateft confequence to them, and they cannot be happy without it, yet ftill an attachment to their fins mifleads them another way, that is, they flatter themfelves that it is poflible to obtain it without reforming their lives. How many are there who prefume in their hearts that they are the favourites of God, though they go qn in their finful courfes, and harden themfelves more and more in their vices? To what caufe can this be attributed, or what are the pretences by which men profeffing religion thus fatally deceive themfelves? Indeed the very profeffion of religion itfelf deceives them, though it is very furprizing that it mould. Thus the ^^wr, becaufe they were the people of God, in covenant with him, the pofterity of Abrabamt and of IJrael, and becaufe they conftantly performed the outward rites of wor(hip which he appointed, therefore imagined they were in a good ftate towards God; though the prophets often reprefented to
Serm. them the vanity of fuch pretences, which V. were refuted by many plain inflances demonftrating that God had no regard to them. Their own hiftory mewed that though he brought their fathers out of Egypt with a ftrong hand, and they did eat fpiritual meat, and drankfpiritual drink, yet with many of them he was not well pleafed. He afterwards forfook Shiloh, the tent which he placed with men; and the ark of the covenant in tvhich they trufted for their defence, was taken into captivity, the temple itfelf was burned; and the laft fatal cataftrophe of the Jewi/b nation demonftrated that the favour of God is not annexed to the greatefb outward privileges, fince even they may come fhort of it, wbofe are the fathers, and the giving of the Laws, and the Jervice of God, and the promifes. After fuch examples, mail we vainly imagine that any external privileges, profeffions, or acts of devotion, will entitle us to the divine acceptance? Our bleffed Saviour hath taken much pains to guard his difciples againft fuch a pernicious error; he hath exprefily affured us, that if we mould fay to him at the laft day, have ive not eaten and drank in thy prefence, prophejied in thy name, and in thy name have caft
out devils, and in thy name have done many Serm. 'wonderful works? His anfwer will be, Ine- V. ver knew you, depart from me, ye that work' iniquity, Mat. vii. 22.
the Fruits of WISDOM.
PROVERBS III. 16.
Length of days is in her right-hand, and in her left-hand riches and honour.
MANY and great are the advantages which Solomon attributeth to wifdom or religious virtue, thereby recommending it to our choice, Jt muft be acknowledged that thofe mentioned in the text are of the loweft kind, and fo they will always appear to a mind well inftructed, and which hath a true tafte of real excellence. The pleafures of felf-approbation, the inward tranquillity of foul, which arifeth from the tefti* mony of an unreproaching heart, fupporting it in all events, and a fenfe of the favour of God, are enjoyments of a far fuperior na* ture, as well as more durable, than the longeft, and moft profperous, and honourable life which can be hoped for in this 3 world,