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Serm. wise certain, that a good Man will be fall.^ , tisfied from himself, yet all this is only true in part, and will amount to no more than this, that it is very lovely and desirable, and which every wise and good Man would certainly chuse, and that too.upon its own Accpunt, by reason of the Satisfaction that arises from it. But if the Good and Bad go down together in the Dust, if one thing befalleth Men and Beasts, and as the one dieth so dieth the other, and we shall be hereaster as if we had never been, what is become of the Reward then? Shall it be a Reward to them who are.not in a Capacity of apprehending it? who have not a Being to enjoy it in? Had they consider'd it not as the End, but only as the Means, they would not have pull'd down with one Hand what they endeavour'd to build up with the other, but would have given Virtue its due Praise and Honour, and not have detracted from it, by cutting off that Reward which will one Day be the Consequence of it; for surely, fays Solomon, there is aRewarS, and thine Expectation /hall not be cut off. , And indeed this is as reasonable for a Man that has a Soul, and performs the Conditions required, to expect, as it is for a God of infinite Bounty and Goodness to
bestow. bestow. Hard would have been the Lot Serm.
of holy Men of old, who luffered the most II. cruel Afflictions that Malice could invent, ^^*^ or resolute Goodnels undergo, and delivered up their Lives in the Cauft^pf Virtue, had there been no Recompfcrice of Reward ; for if in this Life only we have Hope in Christ ive are of all Men most miserable. But we are sure they acted upon a wise and good Principle, even upon the strong Foundation of Faith; for they were tortured not ^•accepting Deliverance, that they might obtain a better Resurrection, a Resurrection to true and eternal Happiness.— But Religion tends to make us happy in this World also, as far as Happiness is to be had here as well as in the next; for it has the "Promise of the Life that now is as well as of that which is to come: And this ic does, not by pleasing the Fancy, and gratifying the Senses; this is a mean and sordid Happiness, which, depending upon the Body, is in the Power of every little Accident to • obstruct; but in giving Ease to the Mind, and Peace to the Conscience, which brings us as near Heaven as we can possibly be while we are upon Earth. And aster all, what doth a wicked Life tend to? What Profit hath the wicked Man of alibis La.
Serm. hour which he taketh under the Sun? Only
Hi t0 wear away a few Days of Sorrow and Misery here, and then to go into a State of endless Misery hereaster; where their Catidle jhall be clean pit out, and their Light Jhall be turned into Darkness. But, on the other hand, the Righteous Jhall Jhine forth as the Sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Thus doth Religion obtain its End; and an End it is truly worthy of a rational Creature, acting up to the Perfection of its Na. ture; and if, according as the End is more or less noble, so is the Wisdom in obtaining it, Religion must be the only true Wisdom, because it directs us to the best and most noble End, viz. eternal Happiness. \ come now to shew in the
Second Place, that it is the only true Wisdom, because it affords us the best Means of obtaining it.— Now those Means are certainly the best that never fail of obtaining their End, which are only to be found in Religion. All other Means, by some unforeseen Accident or other, are often disappointed of the End they were designed to obtain ; of which there is no Occasion for any Proof, because every one has, one Time
or other, made the Experiment: But we
are sure the Means which Religion affords Serm. will never fail of obtaining the End we all ^H^ desire, because a God of Truth hath said it.— The Scripture abounds with Promises of etemal Life and Happiness to those that fear God and keep his Commandments, but it no where promises either upon any other Conditions j sot 'tis not the Rich, the Mighty, or the Learned, who are entitled to Happineis, but they who are religious and good. Riches, for Example, are of themselves of no Use to make a Man happy, unless Happiness were to be bought, whereas it is to be purchased no otherwise than by being rich in good Works; nor is it to be obtained by Power and Might, by Conquests and great Achievements, but by Meekness and Humility, by conquering a Man's Self, and subduing his rebellious Passions: For he that is JIow to Anger is better than the Mighty, and he that rukth his Sprit, than he that taketh a City. And what will even the Wiselom of Learning and Knowledge signify, unless a Man is wife unto Salvation? The Knowledge of Sciences, however useful in its Way, has but little Tendency to a good Life. He who professes Religion, and makes it his Business to be a good Christian, must be skill'd in Knowledge of
Serm. another Kind j he must know the Love of II. Christ, which passeth all Knowledge, he
<>^>J must be skilTd in that Knowledge which will enable him to provide for his eternal Happiness, which is no otherwise to be obtained but by fearing God, and keeping his Commandments j for a Man may go to Heaven without Philosophy, tho' he can never expect to go there without Religion. But what then is Learning a Thing of no Consequence? Is human Wisdom and Knowledge of no Value? Is it no Advantage to be a Scholar? Yes certainly, n.uch every Way; it is of great Use, not only in improving our Understandings, but also in . obtaining many great and noble Ends in Life, which we could never obtain without it; and 'tis then only of little Use when 'tis considered apart from Religion; for when 'tis separated from That, 'tis Science falsely so called, and is not true Wiftom, but only the Appearance of it; 'tis not that Wisdom which makes Men better, but that which sets Men even below their Inferiors; » true is that Saying of the Son of Syracb, He that hath small Understanding, <^ feareth God, is better than one that hath much Wisdom, and transgrejseth the La®
os the Most High. Solomon, after all his