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in the habitual courses of fin. For if we consider the general design of Christianity, it propounds to us in this world nothing that is of difficult purchase, nothing beyond what God allots us by the ordinary and common providence, such things as we are to receive without care and folicitous vexation. So that the ends are not large, and the way is easy and passed over without much trouble, and those ends are obtained without difficulty. · He that propounds to himself to live low, pious, humble, and retired ; his main employment is nothing but fitting quiet, and undisturbed with variety of impertinent affairs : But he that loves the world and its acquisitions, entertains a thousand businesses, and every business hath abundance of employment, and every employment is multiplied and made intricate by circumstances, and every circumstance is to be disputed, and he that disputes ever hath two sides in enmity and opposition to each other.
The ways of virtue are very much upon the defensive; and the work is one, uniQ2
form, form, and easy : They are like war within a strong castle; if those within stand upon their guard, they have little else to do. But vice is like storming of a fort; full of noise, trouble, labour, danger, and disease.
How easy a thing is it to restore the pledge? but if a man means to defeat him that trusted him, what a world of arts must he use to make pretences ? to delay first, then to excuse, then to object, then to intricate the business, next to quarrel, then to forswear it, and all the way to palliate bis crime, and represent himself honeft? And if an oppresfing and greedy person have an intention to defraud the unwary, or to get his neighbour's land; the cares of every day, and the interruptions of every night's fleep, are more than the purchafe is worth: fince he might buy virtue at half that watching, and the less painful care of a fewer number of days.
A plain story is foonest told, and best confuses an intricate lie. And when a person is exainined in judgement, one false answer asks more fill for its support and
maintenance, than a whole history of truth. And such persons are put to so many shameful retreats, false colours and pretences, to avoid contradiction or difcovery; that the labour of a false story seems in the order of things to be designed for the beginning of its own punishment.
The ways of fin are crooked, rocky, and uneven ; they are broad indeed, and there is variety of ruins, and allurements to entice the unwary; but they are nothing smooth, or safe, or convenient. The ways of virtue are narrow, but not crooked. Labour indeed there is in them, as in all things excellent; but no confusions, no distractions of thought, no amazement, or intricacy of counsels. It is like the labour of husbandry, full of health and chearfulness, plain and profitable, requiring diligence, but such in which crafts and painful stratagems are useless and impertinent. But vice hath oftentimes so troublesome a retinue, and so many objections in the event of things, is so entangled in difficult and contradictory circumstances, hath in it parts so opposite to each other,
and so inconsistent with the present condi, tion of the man, or some secret design of his; that those little pleasures which are its covering and pretence, are less perceived, and least enjoyed; whilst they begin in vanity, rise up in smoke, and end in disfatisfaction.
IV. Virtue conduceth infinitely to the content and satisfaction of our lives; and vice doth the quite contrary. The bleffings of this life, that make it happy, are such as these ; peace and quietnéfs, content and satisfaction of desires, riches, love of friends and neighbours at home, and honour and reputation abroad.'
Peace was so much intended by our blessed Saviour, that he framed all his laws in compliance to that design. He that returns good for evil, a soft answer to the asperity of his enemy, kindness to injuries, lessens the contention always, and sometimes gets a friend. He that doth his duty to his neighbour, that is, all offices of kindness, gentleness, and humanity, nothing of injury and affront, is morally
2 . sure
sure never to meet with any great vexation or disappointment. For as one injury provokes another, so a kindness will invite a kindness. And if men would but live according to the discipline of the Christian religion, one of the great plagues which vex the world would be no more. There would be no wars, if that institution were suffered to prevail, which establishes an universal peace. This world would be an image of heaven, if all men were charitable, peaceable, just, and loving.
We are required also to be content in every state; and because Christianity teacheth us this lesson, it teacherh us to be happy. For nothing from without can make us miserable, unless we join our own consents to it, and entertain it as an enemy. And this precept is so necessary, that it is not more a duty, than a rule of prudence ; and in many accidents of our lives, it is the only cure of sadness, For it is certain that no providence, less than divine, can prevent evil and cross accidents : But that is an excellent remedy to the evil, which