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for his Service : But if Gratitude cannot, methinks Interest should prevail with Persons of Rank and Dignity in a Nation to espouse the Cause of Religion; I mean, to support and advance the er stablished Worship of God; for these are they who must unavoidably suffer molt, in all the Confusions which Irreligion and Schism usher in. These bave Estates, Honours, Perferments, Power, things fit to be the Quarry of the Needy, Co. vetous, and Ambitious, or the Scorn and Sport of the Insolent and Discontented : and this does generally fall out as often as either Luxury and Riot ef. feminate and dispirit a Nation, or open Prophaneness and Irreligion extinguishes in the Multitude all Reverence for Magistracy or Laws, or the Contempt of an Established Church, and the increase and licentiousness of Sects breed Anarchy in the State; or finally, the displeasure of God pours down Reproaches upon the Heads of those that have cishonoured him, according to his constant Rule, Then that honour me, I will honour, and they that despise me, shall be lightly esteemed, 1 Sam. 2. 30.
To sum up all on this Head, and prevent any misapplication, considering
how far the Glory of God, and the Good of Man is interested in God's Pub. lick Worship amongst us, I would have the Breasts of all Men, and especially of those of Power and Rank, inflamed with the love of it, and a Zeal for the Ho. nour and Defence of it. And if it be demanded, which way I would have them express this ;. I answer plainly, by the open Practice of Devotion and Vertue themselves, and by countenancing and encouraging it in others, by a rational and calm Defence of the Worship and Dodrine of the Church against vain Cavils and Novelties, by a vigilant and courageous, but Christian Oppofition, and countermining of all the secret Practices or open Hoftilities of such Men as endeavour to defame, weaken, and subvert the Religion established, not out of Conscience towards God, but indeed Atheism, Restlesness, Ambition, Revenge, or some other uogodly Lust.
Finally, by a hearty Concurrence with the Government for the suppressing all open Immorality, and advancing the Practice of Godliness and Religion amongst us, that there may be no room amongst us for the Complaint of the Psalmist, Who will rise up with me against
the wicked, or who will take my part a. gainst the wicked doer, Psal. 94. 16. This Purs me in mind of another branch of our Duty towards God; namely, his Private Worship or Service.
By the Private Worship or Service of God, is to be understood not only private Prayers, but all Ads either of Obedience to the Commands, or Submission and Resignation to the Providence of God. From amongst all these I will recommend to you two things as most necessary and pertinent at prelent,
1. Sobriety or Watchfulness over your selves at this and all other times of Meeting
It is a matter of very melancholy Reflection, that in that thing we call Society and Conversation, the Gentleman and the Christian, Mirth and Religion should be thought so inconsistent and incompatible ; what, muft Men, to flie Preciseness, needs run into Debauchory? and cannot Sourness or Dulness be banished Conversation, but Modesty and Sobriety must be so too? Time was when the Meetings and Entertainments of Christians (might I not to our shame add of well-bred Pagan's) was Philosophical, Edifying, and Instructive; but
now they seem to minister only to Sin and Folly, to spread and propagate Looseness and Vanity. Ah, how wret. ched their Nature, and more wretched their Education; how mean the Parts, and how much meaner the Acquaintance of those Men, who have neither Wit enough to render Conversation Entertaining, nor Learning or Experience enough to render it Useful, nor Vertue or Business enough to render it Innocent. If this be so, as sure it is; if In temperance be the Refuge of Idleness, Duncery, and ill Breeding, methinks Men of Parts, Education, or Business, should shun it as an Imputation and a Scandal : a Consideration which sometimes prevails when the great motives of Religion fail.
But in the next place, as Religion must not be drowned nor washed away by Intemperance, so neither muft it be choaked and starved by Worldly Cares and Covetousness. It is a melancholy Remark, but such a one that scarce e. fcapes any body, That there are too many who seem to affect fomething that comes very near up to a Contempt of Religion; as if it were a Scandal to Men of Business to own any leisure for Religi
on in publick or private ; what is Prophaneness and Atheism if this be not ; What is this but to own either that your Business is such, that it were Impudence to beg or exped a Blessing on it; or that you do not think the Providence and Patronage of God necessary to your Success ; or finally, that you do not believe another World and therefore are only inteot to provide for this. Ah, what degrees of Madness and Folly is not Man capable of! Ah,by how many, and how directly contrary ways are weensnared, and fo perish! What need have we to Watch over our selves when Business is as apt to intoxicate and infatuate us as Pleasure, and Drudgery to prove as fatal as our Luxury! I have put you in mind sufficiently of such parts of our Duty towards God as I thought most proper present Consideration, and am now naturally led on to the second thing : that is, our Duty towards Man. For Religion towards God is the Best Foundation of Justice towards Man. Now Humane Rights being, as I told you, of two sorts, publick and private, and it being necessary to a Conscience void of Offence towards Man, to be tender of rendring both, I'll begin with the first.