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COURSE OF SERMONS FOR THE WHOLE YEAR:
THE NATURE OF FAITH AND OBEDIENCE, IN RELATION TO GOD, AND THE ECCLESIASTICAL AND SECULAR POWERS, RESPECTIVELY.
MOST NOBLE AND virtuous princESS,
LADY DUTCHESS OF ORMOND,
PRESENT your Grace herewith a testimony of my obedience, and of your own zeal for the good of souls. You were, in your great charity, not only pleased to pardon the weakness of this discourse*, but to hope it might serve as a memorial to those that need it, of the great necessity of living virtuously, and by the measures of Christianity. Madam, you are too great and too good to have any ambition for the things of this world; but I cannot but observe, that in your designs for the other world, you, by your charity and zeal, adopt yourself into the portion of those ecclesiastics, who humbly hope, and truly labour, for the reward that is promised to those wise persons who convert souls, if our prayers and your desires that every one should be profited in their eternal concerns, cast in a symbol towards this great work, and will give you a title to that
* This and the two following Discourses were preached at Christ Church, Dublin, and respectively entitled, "The Righteousness Evangelical Described :"-"The Christian's Conquest over the Body of Sin :"-" Fides Formata; or, Faith working by Love."
great reward: but, Madam, when I received your commands for dispersing some copies of this sermon, I perceived it was too little to be presented to your Eminence; and if it were accompanied with something else of the like nature, it might, with more profit, advance that end which your Grace so piously designed; and, therefore, I have taken this opportunity to satisfy the desire of some very honourable and very reverend personages, who required that the two following sermons should also be made fit for the use of those, who hoped to receive profit by them. I humbly lay them all at your Grace's feet, begging of God, that even as many may receive advantages by the perusing of them, as either your Grace will desire, or he that preached them did intend. And if your Grace will accept of this first testimony of my concurrence with all the world that know you, in paying those great regards, which your piety so highly merits, I will endeavour hereafter, in some greater instance, to pursue the intentions of your zeal of souls, and, by such a service, endeavour to do more benefit to others, and by it, as by that which is most acceptable to your Grace, endear the obedience and services of,
Your Grace's most humble
And obedient Servant,
For I say unto you, that except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.—Matt. v. 20.
REWARDS and punishments are the best sanction of laws; and although the guardians of laws strike sometimes with the softest part of the hand in their executions of sad sentences, yet in the sanction they make no abatements, but so proportion the duty to the reward, and the punishment to the crime, that by these we can best tell what value the lawgiver puts upon the obedience. Joshua put a great rate upon the taking of Kiriath-Sepher, when the reward of the service was his daughter and a dower. But when the young men ventured to fetch David the waters of Bethlehem, they had nothing but the praise of their boldness, because their service was no more than the satisfaction of a curiosity. But as lawgivers, by their rewards, declare the value of the obedience, so do subjects also, by the grandeur of what they expect, set a value on the law and the lawgiver, and do their services accordingly.
And, therefore, the law of Moses, whose endearment was nothing but temporal goods and transient evils, "could never make the comers thereunto perfect;" but the Taywyn xpeίTTOVOS Exπidos, "the superinduction of a better hope," hath endeared a more perfect obedience. When Christ brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel, and hath
a Heb. vii. 19.