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he enjoys, are not fupplied him merely by his
own Care ; but chiefly by the Providence of
another, who maketh his Sun to rife , bis Wind
to blow*-, his Rain to defcend, his Earth to be
fruitful ? Hath not every Man heard it owned,
that the more diligently any one Part of Nature
is examined, the fuller Proofs it affords, that
an almighty, allwife and gracious Being, muft
be the Author of the Whole ? And what he
hath made, no Doubt but he governs and fuper-
intends. This is the plain obvious Account of
Things, that one mould think muft almofl offer
itfelf of Courfe to every common Mind, without
any Learning at all : and the deepeft Learning
gives it the ftrongeft Confirmation. Nor is it *
fo much as pretended, that any Account hath
been attempted of the Origin of the World, or
any Thing in it, different from what Religion
affigns, but it hath been either palpably falfe and
abfurd, or impenetrably dark and unintelligible.
It being then fo clear, that there is a Maker and
Preferver of all, infinitely powerful, wife and
bounteous, what can be more vifible than our
Duty ; to praife him for his Mercies, pray to
him for the Continuance of them, place our
Happinefs in his Favour, fear his Difpleafure,

ro Matth. v. 45, " Pf. cxlvii. 18.



and do his Will ? Surely the moft ignorant
among us, that think at all, cannot but find all
this written in their Hearts : nor can the acuteft
and moft artful difpute againft it, without
being felf-condemned. And what then hath
any one to plead for himfelf, if he lives regard-
lefs of Him, in whom he lives, and moves, and
hath his Being ; without Gratitude to his Boun-
ty, from whom all he hath, or can hope for,
comes ; without Obedience to his Commands,
who requires Nothing of us, but for our own
Good -, without Refignation to his Will, who
is rightful Lord of the Univerfe, and ufes bound-
lefs Authority only to the Purpofes of infinite
Goodnefs ? Surely, as the Apoftle reafons, fmce
the invifible Things of God, even his eternal Power
and Godhead, are clearly feen from the Creation of
the World, being underjlood by the Things that are
made ; they are without Excufe, who, when they
know God, glorify him not as God, neither are

Let us now proceed to the Duties, which we
owe to our Fellow-creatures. The Senfe of
thefe, becaufe they are of more immediate Im-
portance to the Good of Society, God hath im-
printed with greater Strength on our Minds, than

Afts xvii. 28, P Rom; i. 20, 21.

F 3 even

86 S E R M O N IV.

even that of our Obligations to himielf. As it
muft be the Will of him, who is ib juft and
good to us all, that we mould be juft and good
to one another ; and from this Principle, as the
Root, every Branch of right Behaviour fprings :
ib he hath plan ted in our Hearts a natural Love
of Equity, a natural Feeling of kind Affection j
a natural Confcience, applauding us when we
act according to thefe Difpolitions, condemning
us when we violate them : and feldom do we.
deferve its Reproaches, but either at the Time,
or foon after, we undergo them. Confider but
a little more particularly, what the mutual Duties
of Men are : Honefty and Fairnefs in their
Dealings, Truth in their Words, Friendlinefs
in their Demeanor, Willingnefs to forgive Of-
fences, refpectful Obedience to Superiors, re?dy
Condefcenfion to Inferiors, tender Love to rear
Relations, Pity and Relief of the Poor, diligent
Care to be ferviceable to Mankind in our proper
Station. Which one of thefe Obligations (and
all the reil are like them) can any pretend
he was ignorant of, or doubtful about ? Who of
us all hath ever done an unjurt, a hard, an ill-
natured, a paffionate, an undutiful, an infolent,
Action ; or lived an idle, ufelefs Life ; and can
truly fay, he was not fenfible that he did amifs ?



all know, when others do amifs in thefe
Refpects : and therefore we are very capable of
knowing, when we do fo ourfelves* We may
drown the Voice of Confcience in turbulent
PafTions and vehement Purfuits of Profit or Plea-
fure j we may coolly and deliberately refufe to
obey it : but it will fpeak, and from Time to
Time will be heard. And therefore it is not
Ignorance or Doubt, but Wickednefs of Heart,
and holding the Truth in Unrighteoujnefs % that
makes us negligent of, and injurious to each
other, fo often as we are.

The third Part of our Duty is the Govern-
ment of ourfelves, according to the Rules of*"
Sobriety, Temperance arid Chaftity. Now who
doth not know, that the Obfervance of thefe Vir-
tues is right and fit : that the Violation of them is
prejudicial to the Reafon, the Health, the Re-
putation, the Fortunes, the Families of Men*
and introduces Riot and Madnefs, Confufion
and Mifery into the World ? Who doth not
fee, that Superiority to the Cravings of Appetite,
and Scorn of irregular Gratifications, is a wor-
thy, an honourable Character : and that Excefs,
t)ilTolutenefs and Debauchery hath fomething
low and ihameful in it : and ftill more fo, as,

* Rom. i. 1 8.

F 4 by


by habitual Indulgence, Men come to be lefs
afhamed of it ? Can any one fay, he did not
know, that Gluttony and Drunkennefs and pro-
mifcuousLewdnefs were Sins: but thought them
as confident with the Obligations of a rational
Nature, the good Order of Society, and the Com-
mands of his Maker, as Moderation and Self-de-
nial ? And if no Man is capable of miftaking thus,
why is not the judgement of God according to
'Truth, again/I them which commit fuch Thi?igs r ?
But further yet : Doth not every Man
know in his Confcience, that, plain as his
Duties to God, his Fellow-creatures and him-
felf, are, he hath, more or lefs, tranfgreffed
them all ; that he hath a Nature continually
prone to Tranfgreffion j that therefore he needs
both Pardon for what is pail, and Affiftance for
the Time to come ; and that he can have neither,
but through God's undeferved Mercy? Or, how-
ever ignorant Men left to their own Reafon may
be through Carelefnefs and Wickednefs, as they
were indeed amazingly ignorant ; or, whatever
Doubts they had, after finning, concerning their
Forgivenefs and Acceptance, as they could not
help having great Doubts : yet at leaft muft not
every ProfefTor of the Gofpel be fenfible, both

r Rom. ii. 2.



what he is to do, and what he may promife him-
felf on complying with the Terms which it pro-
pofes : and that thefe are, Repentance towards
God t Faith towards our Lord JefusChrift % and
humble Ufe of the appointed Means of Grace: of
Attention to the Reading and Preaching of God's
Word, earneft Prayer, worthy Participation of
the holy Sacrament ? And how can he then
plead Ignorance hereafter, if he refolves now to
live according to his own Fancy, and to fland or
fall by his own Merits ; and haughtily defpifes,
or indolently neglects, applying, as a penitent
Sinner ought, to infinite Goodnefs ?

Upon the Whole, fince moil of the main
Branches of our Duty are thus obvious to our
Underflandings of themfelves; and all of them
are conftantly taught us, by the holy Scripture,
by the Laws of our Country, by the Opinion
and Confent of the wifeft and beft of Mankind,
by the Inftru&ions of Perfons appointed for
that Purpofe ; what Account do we imagine we
mall poflibly be able to give, why Religion, fo
eafily apprehended, is fo little practifed by us ?
If any do not know what is commanded; it muft
be, becaufe they avoided knowing it : if any
doubt of the Reality of the Command; the

* A&J XX. 2 T .


90 S E R M O N IV.
Reafon is, that they defire to doubt: and how
can we flatter ourfelves, that any Thing is ex-
cufable, which proceeds from a Difpoiition of
Mind fo grofsly and wilfully wrong ? Sup-
pofe a Servant of ours had purpofely kept out of
the Way of receiving our Orders, or invented
Perplexities an.d Cavils about the Meaning of
them, or the Certainty of our having delivered
them, becaufe he had no Mind to obey them :
would that juftify him ? Should we not imme-
diately tell him, that what he eafily might and
clearly ought to have known and underftood,
he was inexcufable, if he would not know and

underftand ? And what mu/l we think of our


great Mailer in Heaven, if we try to impede on
Him with Devices and Tricks, that will not
pafs amongil ourfelves ?

But in Reality Men have not this Excufe, if
it were one. They do know, how they ought
to. behave; they do know that they ought to
live fiber ly, right edujly and godly, in this World,
looking for ' the Recompences of another: and
they well know in the Main, what Particulars
this Obligation comprehends j how grievouHy
they have fallen fhort of them, and what Need
they have to repent and humbly beg Forgivenefs

1 Tit. iL 12, 13.



and Strength, through him who hath pro-
cured us a Title to both. Nor can they pre-
tend, that thefe are trifling Matters ; the Hap-
pinefs even of this Life dpends on them ;
or, if it did not, the all-feeing God hath en-
joined them, as the Conditions and the Mean?
of Happinefs in the next ; the Judge of the
whole Earth will inquire ftri&ly at the great
Day into our Performance of them ; and there
can be no good Account given him, why a
plain Duty was omitted or tranfgrefTed. We can
eafily deceive ourfelves : we can make fpecious
Pleas one to another for our Failings -, which
the Occafion that we have for Allowances in
our Turn, incline us often to look upon very
favourably in our Neighbours. But, in the Sight
of God, fuppofing a Thing incumbent on us,
and fuppofing it eafily known to be fo : what
can be faid to the Purpofe, why we did not per-
form it ? " We were poor and ignorant." But
we were not, or we needed not to have been, ig*
norant in this Particular. " We were fufpicious
and doubtful." But our Doubts were affected,
not real ; or partial, not honeft and upright. Or
if we doubted ever fo fairly about fome Things ;
why did not we do thofe, of which we could
not doubt ? And even for the reft, why did
5 we


we not take Care, that our Practice mould
be on the undoubtedly fafer, that is, the vir-
tuous and religious, Side ? " But we had ftrong
Inclinations, that prompted us to the Courfe
we took." No Wonder : here was the Trial
of our Virtue; it was our Bufinefs to have
refifted them. " But human Virtue is not luf-
ficient:" Therefore we mould have applied ear-
neftly for divine Grace. " But we were fur-
prifed into wrong Behaviour." It was our Bufi-
nefs to be watchful j and at leafl a Habit and a
Life of Sin cannot happen by Surprife. In fhort,
let us multiply Pretences as long as we pleafe,
the very Nature of Duty implies, that it ought
to be done.

Still there are fome, efpecially in fome Cir-
cumftances, who are to a much greater Degree
excufable for the Sins they are guilty of, than
others. But yet an Excufe is not a Juftifi cation :
and will leafl of all prove fuch to thofe, who,
inflead of endeavouring to -aft right, fet them-
felves to contrive Reafons, why their acting
wrong mould be difpenfed with. It is true, the
very heft have their Faults : and Faults not in-
dulged mall be forgiven us, if we are truly
forry for them, and earneftly apply to God's
Mercy through Chrifl for Pardon, and carefully


S E R 'M O N IV. 93

watch againft the Return of them. But when
Men firfr. allow themfelves to fin, then fland on
their own Defence; and particularly, if they
plead Ignorance or Doubtfulnefs of what they
have fuch abundant Means of knowing and
being fure of : they muft not hope, that this
Conduct, if they perfevere in it, can efcape
final Condemnation.

It ought however to be acknowledged after
all, that many have comparatively but low Abi-
lities, and fmall Opportunities for Knowledge :
and that to fome, whofe Underftandings are not
weak, but perverfely turned, greater Opportu-
nities are of fmall Ufe -, for what enlightens
others, only dazzles them. And accordingly
our Saviour moil equitably confiders thefe Dif-
advantages ; and acquaints us, ten Verfes before
the Text, that the Servant, 'which knew his
Lord's Will, and prepared not himfelf, neither did
according to his Will, fhall be beaten with many
Stripes : but he that knew not, and did commit
things worthy of Stripes, ft all be beaten with few
Stripes". But thefe Words, though full of Terror
to the great, the learned and the wife, if they
negledt their Duty ; by no Means carry in them
that Encouragement to the poor, the illiterate

L n Luke xii. 47, 48.



and flow of Apprehenfion, which poffibly they
tnay feem to do. For they chiefly relate, not
to fuch Times as curs ; but that, in which they
Were fpoken : when the Jews had great Light,
and therefore great Guilt if they finned ; but
the Gentiles were, and had been long, in pro-
found Darkhefs : tae'Tmes of which Ignorance
God is reprefented, as in Comparifon winking at,
rmt now, in the Gofpel Age, he commands, under
Tevefer Penalties, all Men everywhere to repent',
becaufe he hath given them a clearer Knowledge
of his Pleafure, and a fuller \AJjurahce of his
judging the World in Righteoufnefs w . And yet
it rnuft be obferved, our Saviour did not appre-
hend anyone to have been fo ignorant, even then,
of his Mailer's Will, as to efcape being punifh-
ed for tran'fgreffing it ; but declares, that he
who knew the leafl of it ; he who, compared
with others, knew it not ; 'knew enough how-
ever to deferve being beaten with Stripes; though
fewer, than they fhould undergo, who, with
flrongef Conxddion and diflincler Perceptions
of their Duty, were equally TranfgrefTors of it.
And how 'fever e even the mildeft Punishments
t>f a wicked Life may be, God forbid we fhould
any of us try. For whoever fins wilfully in

.* Afts Xvii. 30, 31.



Hopes of fuffering but little hereafter ; for that
very Reafon will be made to fufFer a great

The Conclufion of the whole Matter is, that
we have Reafon all to apply to ourfelves the
Prophet's Words : He hath fawn thee, O Man,
what is good, and what the Lord thy God requir-
eth ofthee*. And though it ftill be true, that fome
Ages of the World have been dark, and others
blinded with falfe Lights ; that fome Men ha-^
turally fee little, and others are ftrangely given
to fee wrong : yet, in general, the Duties of '
Life are level to the Capacities of all Men : and
efpscially among Chriftians, but above all,
Chriftians fo peculiarly blefled with the Means
of Inflru&ion, as we of this Nation are, no
one can poflibly, without either deliberate Ob-
ftinacy, or intolerable Negligence, continue un-
acquainted with what he is bound to do; or
the Recompence he is to expect, if he do it not.
For this is the Condemnation ; that Light is come
into the World, and Men have loved Darknefs ra-
ther than Light, becaufe their Deeds were evz/ y .

* Micah vi. 8. 7 John iii. 19.

S E R.



2 TIM. iii. 4.

" Lovers of Pleafures, more than Lovers of

THE wife and gracious Ruler of the World
hath created us to obey him, and from
that Obedience to receive our proper Share of
Happinefs. He hath adapted a Variety of Sa-
tisfactions to the various Parts of our Frame :
and taught us by Nature, but more diftinctly by
his Word, the due Subordinations of each - y and
the Circumftances, in which we may or may not
lawfully partake of them. Some of thefe are ca-
pable of being exactly fpecified : and in fuch we
cannot tranfgrefs, without either acknowledging
our Guilt, or daring to deny the Authority of the
Law. Many take the humbler Method of the
two ; and yet grow little, if at all, better : many
the bolder, and grow continually worfe. Both
VOL. I, G are


are frequently admonifhed, and may be left
at prefent to their own Reflexions. But other
Cafes admit only a general and lefs accurate De-
fcription : which leaves Room for thofe, who de-
fire it, to go very improper Lengths, and ftill
imagine they are within Bounds. Thus, in eat-
ing and drinking ; to ufe the good Creatures of
God with Delight is certainly allowable : and
therefore too many fet their Minds to a
ftrange Degree on the Practice and the Study
of this meaneft of Gratifications ; and think
they may load and inflame themfelves with-
out Scruple, provided they ftop but at all ihort
of mocking Intemperance. Thus again what
we commonly call Amufements are in their
Nature innocent. God hath formed us for
pleaiing Intercourfe, and put Mirth in our
Hearts with Intent that we mould exert it.
The fprightly Difpofition of Youth calls for
gladfome Activity : the Fatigues of Bufmefs,
the Infirmities of Old Age, the Wearifomenefs
of ill Health and low Spirits, often require the
beft Relief, that Cheerfulnefs can minifter. And
not to allow, that our Maker confiders whereof
we are made*, would be giving an Idea of Re-
ligion both unamiable and falie. But then, jiift
a Pf. ciii. 14.


S E R M O N V. 99

how far each of us may lawfully carry our In-
dulgence, cannot be minutely pointed out. And
therefore, inftead of being contented to fpeak
and think mildly of others, which would be a
right Ufe of this Uncertainty ; we are apt to be
negligent of reftraining ourfelves, which is a
very wrong one. For there are numberlefs
Things, in which Limits cannot be fixed pre-
cifely, and yet confiderable Exceffes are de-
ftructive. Now in all thefe, our Ignorance
ought to teach us a reafonable, though not fcru-
pulous, Caution : but efpecially in Matters of
gay Entertainment : becaufe the prefent Age
hath confefledly a peculiar Turn that Way.
Whether the preceding ones had not other
Faults as bad, is out of the Queftion : our Con-
cern is to watch againfl our own : for which
Purpofe the Text affords us a moft equitable
and comprehensive and trying Direction -, that
we are not to love Pleafures more than God :
meaning, than our Duty to Him. For, this is
the Love of God> that ive keep his Commandments b .
Now he hath enjoined us very important Du*
ties : of improving ourfelves in every Thing wor-
thy, and being ferviceable to our Fellow-Crea-
tures. What Influence then upon thcfe will our
Amufements, as we conduct them, have ?

b 1 John v. 3.

G 2 The


The more fteadily we apply, without impair-
ing our Healths or Faculties by it, to Affairs of
real Ufe, the properer Part we ad; in Life. Do
then indeed our ferious Occupations wear us
down fo, that we need all the Time, which we
take, to recruit ourfelves ? Or do we only,
when we are tired of one Trifle, run to ano-
ther ? Is it Matter of Humiliation to us, that
we are obliged to fpend fo much of every
Day infignificantly : or do we take a Pride in
fpending it thus ; lead as many into the fame
Way as we can, and throw Contempt on thofe,
whom we cannot ? Have we impartially exa-
mined, what Obligations, public and private,
are incumbent on us : whether we are chiefly
attentive to thefe, omitting none ; or to what
other Things, and what the Benefit of them is :
whether it be any other, than keeping ourfelves
in Humour, like froward Children ? We mould
do well to ftate the Difpofal of our Time : firft
fet down, how much we employ in each of our
Concerns of Moment - y then how much goes in
Diveriions of one Kind or another, in preparing
for them, in Refreshment after them, in need-
lefs Company at home and abroad ; and, if the
Difproportion be great, think beforehand, how
wretched a Void and Blank, at beft, our Lives


-SERMON V. ioi
will appear at the dole of them to have been,
i hoiild the Remainder of them be wafted in the
fame Manner.

We all wiih to be diftinguifhed to our Ho-
nour. But in whofe Eyes will fuch Perfons, or
a Nation compofed of fuch, be honoured ? and
for what Qualifications ? Knowledge and Pru-
dence require Induftry and Experience to attain
them : Worth and Probity require thoughtful
Self-infpec1:ion. And one doth not fee, how
they, who claim only outfide Pre-eminences, can
pofiibly efteem one another ; or why they
fhould wifh to herd fo much together, unlefs
to take Comfort in their mutual Want of Me-
rit. At leaft vain Opinion will never convert
Shew into Subftance. We muft furely know,
that we are capable of more valuable Accom-
piiihmerits, and of delighting in them. . Pro-
bably our Education hath furnifhed us with
fome Experience of improving our Underftand-
ings and our Tempers. Have we no Room
left then for farther Improvements ? Or have
we loft the Relifh of them ? And for what bet-
ter have we exchanged it ? Or how unhappily
foever we were bred, as indeed too many young
People are extremely pitiable for having been
taught the leaft of what was moft worth learn-
G 3 in S>


ing ; yet we mufl be fenfible, there are thofe,
who poflefs more folid Endowments. Are
they then of no Value in Life, or have they
not in all Ages been allowed to be of the high^
eft ? Why therefore mould not we fbrive to
refemble them, and take a little Leifure to
think, how we may live to more Purpofe ? It
may be, we do not defire Leifure to think.
It is unentertaining : it is painful. But what
a Figure do we make to others and ourfelves,
if we cannot bear our own Company, but muft
fly to any Thing, rather than fail to get rid of
it ? Thought can be painful only becaufe we
are acting amifs : and then thinking fo as
to amend, is the only Remedy ; and no Cafe
is too far gone for it. Perhaps we are unable
to carry on folitary Meditation to any good
Effect. But we can have Recourfe to the Af-
fiftance of proper Books. Idle Reading indeed
completes the Deduction of the Time, that
idle Converfation fpares us. But judicious
Writings on the Subject of Conduct, religious,
moral, and prudent, are at once the Medicine
and the Nourifhment of the Mind. If ftill
after thefe we want farther Inftruction, every
true Friend we have, every good Man we con-
duit, will gladly give it us. And with fucli



Helps, why fhould we not aflert our Share in
the Dignity of human Nature ?

But poflibly we afpire to appear advantage -
oufly both in weightier Matters, and lighter.
And by due Application, mofl People may, as
far as they need. But then the chief Regard
muft ever be paid to the principal Point. For
even elegant and liberal and learned Accom-
plimments have, by excluding flill better Things,
greatly diminished the Value of many Cha-
racters . And when fuch Attainments, as bare-
ly, if at all, rife above indifferent, or perhaps
fink below it, divide our Efteem with laudable
ones, the Mixture will do great Harm, both to
ourfelves, and, by its Example, to others. But
when they are the main Objects of our Ambi-
tion ; the Applaufe of the unthinking, mould
we procure it, will be bought much too
dear ; the Soul will lofe its Vigour and grow
fqvolous -, Matters of Confequence become
diftafteful ; by Degrees the very Notion, which
are fo, will be effaced : and a Group of the
reigning Follies of the Time being, engrofs the
Heart. But particularly Self-Government will
be forgotton in the Midft of Self-indulgences,
that will pretend to be harmlefs, till they prove
undeniably criminal. In thefe Circumftances,
G 4 the


the Bufinefs of our Stations, the Examination
of our Affairs, the Care of thofe who are moffc
intimately connected with us, and, much more,
the Infpection of our Hearts, of our State to-
wards God, of our Title to a happy Eternity,
will be continually poftponed, or fuperficially
hurried over, to comply with every trifling En-^
gagement, every fudden Fancy, or even mere
Indolence. And perhaps, rather than take the
Pains of knowing and doing what we ought,
we mail make it our Refuge to profefs a Con^
tempt of it : in which abfurd Declaration, a na-
tural or acquired Fluency of lively Talk will
bear People out fo well to thofe, with whom
Similarity of Manners prompts them to affociate,
that before it is long, they will feem quite fa^
tisfied in neglecting every Thing they fhpuld

Yet all the While, what they call a Life of
Pleafure is very often only an Affectation of be-
ing pleafed. They put on Airs of great Gaiety,
and in Truth their Pleafures are flat and infipid :
they relieve one taftelefs Scene by another a little
different ; are miferable in the Intervals of their
Amufements, and far from happy during the
Continuance of them. Nay indeed, under Co-
lour of Relaxations, they are, to thofe who en^-



gage throughly in them, fore Fatigues ; from
which, whether they will confefs it or not, Re-

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