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hand of the diligent Jhall bear rule, but S E R M* the fatbful Jhall be under tribute. And chap. VI. xxii. 29. See/I thou a man diligent in his bu~ finefs, he jhall {land before kings, he Jhall not ft and before mean men ;, and by a reputation for juftice, generofity, and other virtues: Still underftanding this not as infallibly certain, or as if it were fecured by the fanction of the divine laws, like the future reward; fometimes we fee, on the contrary* the wicked great in power, and the vileft of men exalted, furrounded with the applaufes and acclamations of an ignorant and vicious multitude, as perfons of the fame character acquire great riches: But it is not always fo; and in the nature of things, and ordinarily, wifdom or virtue is as profitable and likely a means for thefe purpofes, as any other, and more; nay, it is plain, that often men, really the moft corrupt, find themfelves obliged to put on the appearance and difguife of virtue, of fobriety, of juftice, and honefty, in their way to riches and honour.

But in another fenfe honour is the more certain effect of wifdom or religious virtue, becaufe virtue itfelf maketh the very character which is honourable, or the fubjedt of efteem; for men are neceflarily determined to approve moral goodnefs wherever

Vol. III. M they

S E R M. they fee the genuine difcoveries of it, and neglecting the dazzling luftre and badges of external grandeur, they cannot help having in their heart a veneration for the man who, by the whole courfe of his behaviour appears to be pious, fober, jure, and charitable, let his condition be what it will.

My brethren, I would once more, in the conclufion, repeat the caution which has been already mentioned, that riches, or honour, or any thing of a parallel nature, any outward advantages in this world, are not the proper rewards of religion; and though godlinefs, in fome fenfe, hath the promife- of the life that now is, yet that is .none of the better promifes on which the gofpel covenant is eftablifhed. Chriflianity propofeth other kind of motives to us than thofe of this world, and requireth, in order to fincerity, that we mould be influenced by them. If indeed we could allure men of riches and honour, as the certain recompence of their piety and virtue, perhaps many might be prevailed with, regarding thofe more than the fuperior arguments which the gofpel doth infift on; but then piety and virtue would ceafe to be what they really are according to the true nature and fpirit of chriftianity, which requireth that we fhould

forfake, forfake all thofe things, that we fhouldSERM. practife religious virtue for its own fake, on the account of its own amiable excellence, and with a view to our obtaining the favour of God, beholding his face in righteoufnefs, and being fatisfied with his likenefs.

But the principal ufe we ought to make of the doctrine as it hath been explained, is to remove an objection or a prejudice men have againft religion, apprehending it to be contrary to their intereft in this world; to fhew the folly of the covetous and ambitious, and the unreafonablenefs of the grounds men generally go upon in their purfuit of riches and honour. It is thought that confcience ftandeth in the way of wealth as an obftacle, and that to be good and virtuous, is the way to be poor and defpifed. It is fo, I acknowledge, fometimes; fo it was in the firft ages of chriftianity, and always in a ftate of perfecution; and in that cafe the faithful fervants of Chrift muft forfake the unrighteous Mammon, nay forfake all their lawful worldly interefts, and even hate their own lives, that they may cleave to their mafter, and preferve their integrity. Betides, it it not to be thought that the profeffion and the practice of true religion will exempt jnen from the common calamities of this M 2 world,

S E R M. world, or alter their natural circumftancea and relative conditions which arife from the eftablifhment of human focieties. Good men as well as bad are liable to ficknefs and death, and St. Paul fuppofeth, \ Cor. vii. 21. That men might be called to the profefTion and privileges of the gofpel in a ftate of fervitude, from which chriflianity did not releafe them, but directed them how to bear it; but, at leaft, all thefe calamities and afflictions, bad men are as liable to as the religious; nay, there is a natural probability, and ordinarily it is found true in fact, that the practice of real piety and virtue will be no hindrance to men's prefent intereft, but rather promote it. Now, is it not extreme folly for men to rifque their falvation, that they may fave their lives, and get worldly gain, and yet not be in a better way to fecure thofe ends, but rather likely to come fhort of them; to facrifice their confciences to their honour, and yet lofe that honour they fo earneftly feek after, which generally is the cafe of ambitious wicked men. Thh their way is their folly; and though it hath been proved to be fo by innumerable inftances from the beginning of the world, yet men go on ftill in the fame track, and pofterity approve the maxims and the con

duel of their fathers, as the Pfalmift obfer- S E R M

veth, Pfal. xlix. 13. VI.

^

Laftly, We may fee, and ought to acknowledge, the wifdorn and the bounty of providence, which fo ordereth and difpofeth the affairs of this world, that generally mens intereft doth not interfere with their duty, and they do not expofe themfelves to very great inconveniencies and difadvantages by a flrict adherence to the practice of virtue. We are here in a ftate of probation, and muft lay our account with difficulties; yet the affairs of this life are fo ballanced, that we have encouragements to our duty, as well as difcouraging trials, and the former feem rather, in the whole, to over-ballance the other; fo that we are not without witnefles of the divine goodnefs, and indeed of the real gain and advantage of godlinef?.

M 3 SER.

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