Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

'tis in vain to expect, either devotion towards God> ox justice and charity towards man. Nay, nothing goo*/ or great can be accomplished without them: since without them we have no ground to hope for, either the assistance of divine grace, or the protection and concurrence of divine providence. Only the pure and chaste soul is a fit temple for the residence of the Spirit: and the providence of God watches over none, or at least none have reason to expect it should, but such as are themselves vigilant and industrious. But now, howrepugnant to, how inconsistent with those virtues, is that infatuation of mind, and that debauchery of affections, wherein fin consists? How incapable either dt sobriety or temperance do fi'stjhness, sensuality, and the love of this world, render us? What a false estimate of things do they cause us to form? How insatiable do they render us in our defire of such things, as have but false and empty appearances of good? And how imperiously do they precipitate us into those fins, which are the pollution and dishonour of our nature? On the contrary, let man be but once enlightened by faith; let him but once come to believe, that his soul is himself, that he is a stranger and pilgrim upon earth, that heaven is - his country, and that to do good works is to lay up his treasure in it; let.

him, I say, but once believe this, and then, how sober; how temperate, how wise, how vigilant, and industrious will he grow? And this he will soon be induced to believe, if he be not actually under the influence of vicious principles and vicious customs. When the mind is undeceived and disabused, and the affeclions disengaged, 'tis natural to man to think calmly, and to desire and enjoy with a moderation, suited to just' and sober,notions of worldly things: for this is to think and act as a man. A secondpart of holiness regards God as its immediate objeSl, and consists in the fear and love of him, 'in dependance and stlf-restgnation, in contemplation and devotion. As to this, 'tis plain, that whoever is under the dominion of anyfin, must be an «7«wy, or at least a stranger to it. The /«#&/ knows no God; and the wicked will not, or dares not, approach one. Their guilt, or their aversion keeps them from it. Selfishness, sensuality;, and the love of the world, are inconsistent with the love of the Father, and all the several duties we owe him: they alienate the minds of men from him, and set up other gods in his room. Hence the covetous are pronounced guilty of idolatry, Col. iii. 5. and the luxurious and unclean are said to make their belly their god, and to glory in their shame, Phil. iii. 19. But as soon as a poor man discerns

cerns that he has set his heart xvponfalse goods; as soon as he finds himself' cheated and deceived in all his expectations by the world, and is convinced that Gad is his proper and his soveraign good, how natural is it to turn his desires and hopes frOstt the creatur'd upott the Creator ? Ho\v natural is ittocontemplate his grdafnejl and goodness, tb thirst impatiently for rnV favour, and dread his dijpleajicre? Antfjucfr a mail will certainly' make' the worship of Gods. great part, at least, of the btisthefs and' employment ot life. With Ms he will begin, and''With this' Ht Will end:the day: nor will he restart?'; his foul will be ever and' anon m'ouitiing towards heave}!, in ejaculations; and there will be scarce' any action, any' event, that- will not <?&<:/&. him to praise and tfidn? Gd^ ot engager him in some wife refleB'iom on his attributes. But all this, will' the loose and atheistical fey, maybe weWJp'ared; 'tis only a vain and idle amujement. Wdr: and peace, business and /r^i/<?, have no dependance upon it; kingddms and common-wealth's rhayfland and flourish, and sensible ;#«*' may Be rzcÆ^ and happy without it. But- to this f answer, religion towards Gdd,' is the foundation of all true virtue towards our neighbour. Laws would want the better part of their authority, if they were not enforced by an awe_ of God: the wisest counsels would'

have

have no effect, did not virtue and religion help to execute them: kingdoms and common-wealths would be dissolved, and burst to pieces, if they were not united and held in by these bonds: and wickedness would reduce the world to one great/olitude and ruin, were it not tempered and restrained, not only by the virtues and examples, but by the supplications and intercessions too, of devout men. Finally, This is an objection fit for none to make, but the J'ottiss h and the ignorant; men of despefate confidence, and little knowledge. For whoever is able to consider, by what motives mankind has ever been wont to be most strongly affected; by what principles the world has ever been led and governed; how great an interest even superstition has had, either in the civilizing and reforming barbarous nations, or the ?nartial successes of the first founders of monarchies, and the like; whoever, I fay, is able to reflect, tho' but slightly, on these things, can never be so silly, as to demand what the use of religion is; or to imagine it possible to root up its authority in the" world.

The third part of holiness regards our neighbour; and consists in the exercise of truth, justice, and charity. And no-where is the ill influence of selfishness, sensuality, and the love os the world, more notorious than here: for these rendring us impatient R and

and insatiable in our defires, violent in the prosecution of them, extravagant and excessive in our enjoyments; and the things of this world beingjtew and finite, and unable to satisfy such inordinate appetites; we stand in one another's light, in one another's way to profit and pleasures, or, too often at least, seem to do so: and this must unavoidably produce a thousand miserable consequences. Accordingly, we daily see that these passions, selfishness, sensuality, and the love os the world, are the parents of envy and emulation, avarice, ambition, strife and contention, hypocrisy and corruption, kindness, luxury 'and prodigality; but are utter enemies to honour, truth and integrity; to generofity and charity. To obviate therefore the mischievous effects of these vicious principles, religion aims at implanting in the world others of a benign and &«{£• f<?#/ nature; oppofing against the love of the world, hope; against selfijhnefs, charity; and against sensuality, faith: and to the end the different tendency of these different principles may be the more conspicuous, I will briefly compare the effeSls they have in reference to our neighbour. Selfijhness makes a man look upon the world as made for him alone; and upon all as his enemies, who do any way interfere wim, or obstruSl his defigns: it seals up all our treasures; confines all our care and thoughts

« AnteriorContinuar »