Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

God gave us to the conftitution of bui na: ture, and for the designs of virtue. - And all those tendernesfes of affe&tion, whichi are the endearments of parents and chil: dren, are also the bands of duty. And all that system of principles and reafonable in ducements to virtue, which we call the laze of nature; is nothing else but that firm incorporation of virtue with our natural principles and dispositions, from which whofoever prevaricates, doth more against nature than he that restrains his appetite.. siis...ng

And besides these particulars, there is Bot in us naturally any inclination directly contrary to the love of God, because by God we understand that fountain of being, which is infinitely perfect in itself; and of great good to us; and whatsoever is fo apprehended, it is as natural for us to love, as to love any thing in the world; for we can love nothing, but what we believe to be good in itself, or good to us. And beyond this, there are in nature many principles and reasons, to make an aptness to acknowledge and confess God; and by the consent of nations, which they also have learned from the dictates of their nature, all men in some manner or other worship God, and all acts against the love and worship of God, are a contradiction to our nature, and offer violence to it. . .,

consent

And we may observe, and refer it to every man's reason, and experience, that the great difficulties of vistue, as they are commonly apprehended, do not commence so much upon the stock of nature, as of evil habits and practices. Our virtues are difficult, because we at first get ill habits : and these habits must be unrooted before we do well. And that is our trouble. But if by the strictness of discipline, we begin at first in our duty and the practice of virtuous principles; we shall find victue made as natural to us, while it is custo mary and habitual, as we pretend our pro pensity, to vice to be... si S

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

II. Religion is most reafonable in itself. 20 For whatsoever the wiseft men in the. world, of all nations and professions, have, agreed upon as most excellent in itself,

and

and of greatest power to effect our present or future happiness; all that, and much more, our bleffed Saviour hath) adopted into his law. And there is nothing in the laws of our religion, but what is perfective of our spirits, and contains in it excellent expedients of obeying God, by performing those duties which are moft beneficial unto men. And therefore, for Christians, who profess to believe all this, and yet to act contrary to such profeffion, is the most unreafonable thing in the world : They have all the figns of weak, indiscreet, and unwary persons. ..

One instance of their folly is, that they chuse the prefent, whatever it is, and neglect the infinite treasures of the future.

They that have no faith nor foresight, may have an excuse for snatching at what is now represented, because it is that all which can move them: But then fuch persons are infinitely distant from wisdom, whose understanding neither reafon nor s-velation hath carried farther than the prefent enjoyments. And he that prefers moments before eternity, and despises the infinite succession of eternal ages; that he may enjoy the present; not daring to trust God for what he sees not, and having no objects of his affections but those which are the objects of his eyes; hath the impatience of a child, and the indiscretion of a fool, and the faithlessness of an unbeliever. ,

infinite

Another instance of the unreasonableness of wicked men is, that they chuse to please their fenfes rather than their reason. And it is a great disreputation to the understanding of any man, to be so deceived, as to chuse that which is common to him with the beasts that perish, rather than that part which is a communication of the divine nature; to see him run after a bubble which himself hath made, and despise a treasure which is offered to him, to call him off froin purluing that emptiness and vanity. But fo doth every vicious perfon : He worships the mammon of this world, and neglects the honour of the eternal God; he prefers the sickness of luxury, before the health of temperance; drink, before immortality ; money, before mercy; VOL. IV.

earth,

earth, before heaven ; and folly before the crowns and glories of a kingdom.

This consideration represents all the flatteries of fin, to be a mere delusion of the understanding: And we find by this scrutiny, that evil and unchristian persons are infinitely unwise; because they neglect their best and greatest interest. They doat passionately upon trifles ; they rely upon false foundations and deceiving principles ; they are most confident when they are most bised; w hen they have the option of two things, they ever chuse the worst; they are not masters of their own actions, but break all purposes at the firf temptation ; they take more pains to do themselves a mischief, than would secure heaven : that is, they are ignorant, foolish, unwary, and undiscerning people, in all Tenses, and to all purposes; and are incurable, otherwise than by their obedience and conformity to the holy Jesus, the eternal wisdom of the Father.

· III. In the strict observances of the law of Christianity, there is less trouble than

« FöregåendeFortsätt »