« AnteriorContinuar »
matter. There we are told that the service of God is true liberty—that the yoke of Christianity is easy in comparison of that yoke which must be brought upon us by any other system of living, -and the text tells of wisdom by which he means Religion, that it has pleasantness in its way, as well as glory in its endthat it will bring us peace and joy such as the world cannot give.—So that upon examining the truth of this assertion, we shall be set right in this error, by seeing that a religious man's happiness does not stand at fo tedious a diftance--but is so present and indeed fo inseparable from him, as' to be felt and tasted every hour and of this even the vicious can hardly be infensible, from what he may perceive to spring up in his mind, from any casual act of virtue. And tho' it is a pleasure that properly belongs to the good—yet let any one try the experiment, and he will see what is meant by that moral delight, arising from the conscience of well-doing.--Let him but refresh the bowels of the needy—let him comfort the broken-hearted-or check an appetite, or overcome a temptation-or receive an affront
with temper and meekness and he shall find
as that which is to come--and in this argu- ment it is, that religion appears in all its glo
ry and strength-unanswerable in all its obligations-that besides the principal work which it does for us in securing our future well-being in the other world, it is likewise the most effectual means to promote our presentand that not only morally, upon account of that reward which virtuous acțions do entitle a man unto
from a just and a wise providence, but by a natural tendency in themselves, which the duties of religion have to procure us riches, health, reputation, credit, and all those things, wherein our temporal happiness is thought to confift,—and this not only in promoting the wellbeing of particular persons, but of public communities and of mankind in general,-agreeable to what the wise man has left us on record, that righteousness exalteth a nation :-infomuch,—that could we, in considering this argument, suppose ourselves to be in a capacity of expoftulating with God, concerning the terms upon which we would submit to his government,—and to chuse the laws ourselves which we would be bound to observe, it would be impossible for the wit of man to frame any other proposals, which upon all accounts would be more advantageous to our own interests than those very conditions to which we are obliged by the rules of religion and virtue.-And in this does the reasonableness of christianity, and the beauty and wisdom of providence appear most eminently towards mankind, in governing us by such laws, as do most apparently
tend to make us happy,_and in a word, in making that (in his mercy) to be our duty, which in his wisdom he knows to be our interest, that is to say, what is most conducive to the ease and comfort of our mind, the health and strength of our body,--the honour and prosperity of our state and condition, the friendship and good-will of our fellow creatures ;-to the attainment of all which, no more effectual means can poflibly be made use of, than that plain direction,--to lead an uncorrupted life, and to do the thing which is right, to use no deceit in our tongue, nor do evil to our neighbour.
For the better imprinting of which truth in your memories, give me leave to offer a few things to your consideration.
The first is,—that justice and honesty contribute very much towards all the faculties of the mind : I mean, that it clears up the understanding from that mist, which dark and crooked designs are apt to raise in it,-—and that it keeps up a regularity in the affections, by suffering no lusts or by-ends to disorder them.That it likewise preserves the mind from all
damps of grief and melancholy, which are the fure consequences of unjuft a&tions; and that by such an improvement of the faculties, it makes a man so much the abler to discern, and fo much the more chearful, active and diligent to mind his business.-Light is sown for the righteous, says the prophet, and gladness for the upright in heart.
Secondly, let it be observed that in the continuance and course of a virtuous man's affairs, there is little probability of his falling into considerable disappointments or calamities;
not only because guarded by the providence of God, but that honesty is in its own nature the freest from danger.
First, becaufe such a one lays no projects, which it is the interest of another to blast, and therefore needs no indirect methods or deceitful practices to secure his interest by undermining others.--The paths of virtae are plain and strait, so that the blind persons of the meanest capacity, fhall not err.-Dishonefty requires skill to conduct it, and as great art to conceal-what it is every one's interest to detect. And I think I need not remind you