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laxation is much wanted : and fome undergo a
fpeedy, and many a lingering, Martyrdom to
them. If Religion enjoined Men to mortify
and macerate themfelves at this Rate, what
dreadful Names would it be called ! In all Like-
lihood, were the Truth known, Numbers
would chufe a quieter Way of living, if one Part
of them could be fure, that the other would keep
them in Countenance. It is great Pity there-
fore, but they mould mutually explain them-
felves on this Tyranny of Fafhion : and not go
on together in wild Chaces of imaginary Plea-
fure, when they had all rather lit ftill. But
farther, feveral, that would be forry to quit
their Diverfions, follow them only to banifh
Reflection on fome bad or imprudent Thing that
they have done, or Courfe that they are in.
Now as this can be no better than a palliative
Cure, and will ufually exafperate the Difeafe,
they ought to feek a more effectual Remedy.
And we mould all coniider, that probably the
fame Entertainments will not for ever afford us
the fame Delight : and yet by long Ufe it may
grow or feem hardly poffible to do without them,
though they not only milbecome, but even tire


us. Nay fome, when they have once fixed
it in their Minds, that Happinefs confiih in
Gaiety, and find the innocent Sorts of gay
Enjoyments are become taftelefs, venture, for
the Sake of a higher Relifh, on fuch as are
pernicious even in this World.

Another Coniideration, both of Prudence
and Duty, is, that the many Expences of
this public Sort of Life are exceffive ; and
to fupply them, Creditors are frequently left
unpaid, except the leaft deferring; due Pro-
vifion for Children is omitted, and ignominious
Arts of railing Money practifed. Or if the Vo-
taries of Pleafure do obferve Juftice, let them
alk their Confciences, what Proportion of their
Income goes in Works of Piety, Mercy, En-
couragement of ufeful Undertakings, and what
in luxurious Trifles ? It will be faid, that thefe
laft do Good by fetting the poor to labour. But
is our Intention to do Good by them, or only to
gratify our Vanity and Voluptuoufnefs ? Be-
fides, much more Good is done by procuring
Health to the fick, right Education to the
young, Inftruction to the ignorant and vicious,
or by durable Works of general Utility and
national Honour. And employing the lower
Part of the People in miniftering to the Luxury



of the higher, can no more enrich or fupport
a Kingdom, than employing the Servants of a
private Family in the fame Manner, can enrich
or fupport that.

But one famionable Expence muft be par-*
ticularly mentioned : that which bears the
Name, often very falfely, of Play. Be it for
ever fo little, confuming much Time in it,
is the moil unimproving and irrational Em-
ployment that can be. But falfe Shame and
Emulation frequently raife it to a very incom-
modious and diftreffing Height, even amongft
thofe who profefs to be moderate. And the
Lengths that others go, are the moil fpeedily
and abfolutely ruinous of all Things. The
more calmly Men bear their LofTes, the worfe;
if they are the lels likely to leave off for it.
But ufually they feel mofl tormenting Agita-
tions : yet rum on to lofe more, from a ground-
lefs Hope of Gain ; and perhaps at Length call
in Difhonefty to the Aid of Imprudence. I
am unwilling to name the worft Act of De-
fperation, to which extravagant and vicious In-
dulgences too frequently lead. But furely it
cannot fail to be vifible, that deliberately and
prefumptuoufly ending an immoral and mif-
chievpus Life, by the impious and falfe Bravery


of a voluntary Death, inftead of an humble and
exemplary Penitence, is the completefi Rebel-
lion againft God, of which the Heart of Man
is capable.

Another considerable Ingredient in the fa-
vourite Amufements of the World, are pub-
lic Spectacles. And provided Regard be had
to Time and Coft, they might be allowably
and beneficially frequented, if they were pre-
ferved from Tendencies dangerous to Virtue.
But Failings in that Article totally alter the
Nature of them 3 and grofs Failings reflect
not only on our Morals, but our Tafte. In-
deed it is lamentable that, fond as we are of
adopting the Fafhions and Qualities of our
Neighbours, often much for the worfe, we
mould not import what is praifeworthy in
them, but fuffer the moil diflblute of them
to excell us in the Chaftity of their dramatical
Reprefentations : yet after all, were they ever
fo innocent, in Proportion as they are trifling
and iniignificant, they are contemptible and un-
worthy of Regard.

But the Effects of lefs general Amufements,
even of thofe at our own Houfes, may be ex-
tremely hurtful, if they are the Means of
admitting Perfons of profligate Conduct and



Principles into familiar Converfation and Ac-
quaintance with others. For hence they will
have the Encouragement of finding, that they
need not either amend or conceal their Faults
to be well received. The inconiiderate, that
is, moft People, feeing little or no Difference
made between good and bad Characters, will
perfuade themfelves on Occafion, that there
can be no great Difference between good and
bad Actions. But the young, above all, will be
likely to admire thofe, whom it extremely
concerns them to abhor. For, in fpite of the
moft prudent Cautions, which however are not
always given them, they are eaiily impofed on
by a fliewy Appearance, joined with plaufible
Talk. And the common Talk of fuch Af-
femblies, though it were never openly to affault
Virtue, which yet may be efpecially feared in
fuch of them where People converfe in Dif-
guifes, and are or may feem unknown to
each other, hath notwithstanding many Things
to undermine good Principles, and weaken
right Sentiments, particularly the continual
Suppofition on which this whole Way of living
is built, that Entertainment is the Buiinefs
of our Being. They whole only School is
the World, will think fo of Courfe : and in



fuch Places cannot be fafely contradicted. Pof-
fibly, with all this, there may be no imme-
diate ftrong Symptoms of much Harm fuffered
in them. But ftill as a Courfe of fober In-
temperance may damage the Health more,
than great Exceffes now and then : fo may a
Life, feemingly but a little too gay, corrupt
the Heart more, than a few Acts of confefled

And belides the direct Danger .to Morals,
what Influence will it have on Piety ? About
that perhaps we are not folicitous. And yet
the firm Belief of a future Recompence mufl
be the beft Security of right Behaviour in all
Circumftances. And the King of the whole
Earth cannot but require to have the due Re-
fpect and Homage he hath appointed paid him
by his Subjects, as neceffary to preferve that
Obedience to his Laws, without which it is im-
pofiible they mould be happy. Yet the public
Worfhip of God, even on that Day which he hath
appropriated to it, is almoft intirely neglected
by the greater!: Part of thofe who live to
Amuiements ; and by many of them profefTedly
and contemptuouily : though porTibly attend-
ing it might afford them fome Instruction, as
well as exprefs proper Duty. Much lefs do


they regard any other Seafons, appointed for
the peculiar Exercife of Serioufnefs : but, it
may be, affed~l to crowd Diverfions into the
moft facred Week of it ; either in wanton
Defiance of public Authority and common
Decency,, or in Oitentation of their imagined
Superiority to vulgar Ways of thinking. But
furely others know as well as they, that out-
ward Obfervances in themfelves are Nothing.
But fKll, by their Effects, both in civil and
religious Matters, they are very important
Things : and may be ufeful to the wifeft Per-
fons. Though, indeed, when there is a little
Weaknefs mixed with Piety and Virtue, they
have no Title to ridicule it, who are guilty of
the numberlefs Abfurdities of DifTolutenefs or
Profanenefs. And though the mofl innocent
Superftition mould be feparated from Religion
if it can, yet not with the Hazard of rooting up
both together.

But fuppofing we pay fufficicnt Regard to
thefe external Proprieties, what Difpolition doth
our Attachment to Pleafure leave us towards
inward Devotion ? Do we pray to God in pri-^
vate ? Is it with Attention and Reverence ?
And doth that regulate the refl of the Day,
or die refl of the Day wear out .the Impreffion
4 of

of that ? Do we ftatedly think of our Interest
in the divine Favour, and our approaching
State after Death, as our main Concerns ? And
do we not only fear the Judge of all, but
love the Father of Mercy, fuch as he hath
exhibited himfelf to Man, by giving his Son
to die for us, and his Holy Spirit to move us
to all Good ? Or hath not our Manner of
living deadened our Feeling of thefe Things,
if ever we had any : and are we not proceed-
ing to efface the fmall Remnants of them ?
This is not the Behaviour of a rational Crea-
ture, of a Penitent for Sin, of a Candidate
for eternal Felicity : there can arife from
it no Meetnefs for the Inheritance of the Saints
in Light % no Sufceptibility of fpiritual Hap-
pinefs, no Hope of efcaping the Damnation
of Hell ^. Not only a few of our detached
Hours, but our whole Being is God's, and to-
be employed as he approves. Our lawful
daily Bufinefs, nay our needful Relaxations
from it, we may humbly prefent to him, as
Part of what he defigned us for. But can we
offer up a Series of Nothing but idle Diffipa-
tions or worfe, and beg him to accept of
that ? Our baptifmal Vow promifed other

c Col. i. 12. d Matth. xxiii. 33.



Things for us : the holy Scripture hath pre-
fcribed us a very different Sort of Conduct : hath
told us, that we cannot Jerve two Majlers"'', that
they, who live in Pleafure, are dead, while they
live* > that he, who delighted hi mfelf fplendidly
every Day, and took this for his Portion, lift up
his Eyes in 'Torment s . And are we then willing,
both to fail of Reward, and fuffer Punifhment ?
Perhaps the latter may feem unjuft, merely for
fpending our Days in harrnlefs Diverlions. But
if otherwife they were harmleis, would not a
Servant of ours merit punifhing, who for his
own Gratification mould obftinately neglect his
allotted Share of Work in the Family ? Now
we are the Servants of our Maker : and he hath
forewarned us, that a Jlothful Servant mall be
deemed a 'wicked one*.

But the Life of thofe, who love Pleafure more
than God, is fuller of Guilt, in Proportion as
it gives others a more public Invitation to live in
the fame Way. If the rich and great proclaim,
that voluptuous Amuiements are their Pamon,
and Religion their Contempt ; as it will provoke
the better Part of their Inferiors to think ill of
them, which is a very umlefirable Thing, fo it

e Matth. vi. 24. f 1 Tim. v. 6. xvi. 19, 23.

* Match, xxv. 26.

VOL. I. H win

ii4 S E R M O N V,
will incline the larger Part, without thinking at
alj well of them, to imitate their Example.
For if they may behave fo, the Concluiion will
be boldly drawn, thaf every one elfe may. And
yet the Effects of that Perfuaiion muft be infup-
portable. For how iliall our Domeftics, and
neareft Relations, all we have Concerns with,
and the Body of the People in general, be kept
from every Thing that is wrong and mifchievous,
in the Midfl of fuch numerous Temptations, if
they learn from us to make Self-indulgence, un-
reftrained by the Apprehenfions of a future Ac-
count, their governing Principle ? Our Laws
cannot be executed with Rigour : and Legifla-
tors and Magiftrates will not be thought in ear-
neft, or, if they. are, will be thought injurious,
when they prohibit what the Practice of too
many of them mews, they look upon as the
only happy Life.

People of Fafhion, efpecially of that Sex,
which afcribes to itfelf the moft Knowledge,
have nearly thrown off all Obfervation of the
Lord's Day : perhaps keep fuch Hours, that
neither they, nor their Families, can go to
Church, at leaft in one Part of it : will vary
thofe Hours readily for any other Purpofe, but
by no Means for this. And when they have



parted the Morning and Afternoon in Neglect
of Piety, Numbers of them pafs the Evening
in what they know will be commonly interpret-
ed, r.nd the more for that Neglect, an open
Contradiction to Piety. Or if, to avoid Scandal,
they fometimes vouchfafe their Attendance on
divine Service in the Country, they feldom or
never do it in Town : where Patterns of it are
peculiarly needful ; and from whence Accounts
of their Behaviour w T ill foon be fpread to the
remoterl: Places where they have Influence.
Now by thefe Means the Sunday, inflead of
being made, to thofe beneath them, the ufefulleil
Part of their Time, by religious Worfhip and
Instruction, Reading and Thought ; as well as
the pleafanteit, by Reft from Labour and friend-
ly Intercourfe ; becomes the moft pernicious.
A large Proportion of the Tradefmen in thefe
two Cities ufually fpend the Whole of it abroad
in Diveriions, often vicious, always coftly : and
by affecting them then, get a ruinous Tafte for
them throughout the Week. The lower Sort
{till are ambitious to follow them as clofe as
they can, every Day indeed, but on that efpe-
cially : confume the Beginning of it, in ftupid
Sloth, the Remainder in Lewdnefs or Drunken-
nefs, which impair their Faculties and (ieftroy
H 2 their

ii6 S E R M O N V.
their Health; befides intercepting the Profits
of their Labour from thofe, whom it mould
maintain. And if they once come to think
Gaming alfo allowable on that only Time, in
which they have Leifure for it ; the Lofers will
be yet more throughly undone and defperate,
and the Winners not the richer, but only the
more debauched.

Every Species of Wickednefs cannot fail to
make a great Progrefs amidft thefe licentious
Principles and Practices : which are induftri-
oufly propagated, both by the Difcourfe of bad
Men, contrary to all common Prudence, and in
Books alfo, publimed not only againfl revealed
Religion, (which they who difbelieve will few
of them believe any, and none to any great
Purpofe) but againft a future Recompence of
human Actions ; and fuited, in the Manner of
writing, to every Reader, and, in the Price, to
every Purchafer. Such as have learnt thefe
LelTons, will yield, and no Wonder, to the pre-
fent Solicitation of each Appetite and each
Fancy, be the Confequences what they may.
When they are diftrerTed, they will venture on
whatever Crime they think may enable them
to go on a little longer : they will endeavour
to conceal a rft Crime by a fecond ; and


if at laft they cannot evade Punimment, they
will defpife it. For what is even Death,
which every one may make as eafy as he
pleafes, if they neither hope nor fear any Thing
after it ?

We of the Clergy are principally concerned
to oppofe this Torrent of Impiety : and I truft
we do it with faithful Zeal. But the immediate
Anfwer to us is, that we are pleading our own
Caufe : though indeed it is that of the Public.
And therefore the hearty Concurrence of the
Laity, jointly countenancing, by theirExamples,
their Favours, their Commendations, their
Reproofs, by Reverence to Religion, Mo-
deration in Pleasures, Frugality in Expence,
Diligence in the Bufmefs of every one's proper
Station, is highly neceflary : and will complete
the BlefFing of the fulleft Liberty, and moft
fatherly Adminiftration of Government, that
ever Nation enjoyed; which otherwife we are
in imminent Danger of abufing, to our own
deferved Ruin.

Yet too great Stri&nefs may do Harm, or
difqualify for doing Good : and according to
Circumftances, partaking of Amufements, that
otherwife are not eligible, may be very prudent :
befides that fome may be under fuch Authority
H 3 and

and Direction, as may oblige them in Duty to
do what they cannot intirely approve. And then
they mould endeavour to do it both obligingly
and gracefully : but always remember, that
they are on flippery Qround : never go farther,
than is really innocent ; never farther, than they
need ; much lefs, blame or defpife thofe, who
are unwilling or unqualified to bear a Part with
them : but carefully preferve a juft Preference
for the higher Order of Obligations; be humble
in the Midft of Pomp, attentive to ferious Re-
flections in the Midft of Gaiety; do all they can,
without expofmg themfelves, to guard or bring
back others ; and feize every Opportunity of
promoting what is right, where too generally
what is wrong abounds.

But they who are not called to enter far into
the livelier Scenes of this World, will do very
commendably, to fhew by Fads, in a freer and
opener Manner, their fettled Perfuaficn, that
Happinefs confifts in quite other Matters ; to
mew, that they can enjoy themfelves perfectly
well, without having any Relifh for thefe ; nay,
can abftain from them without Difficulty, though
they have a Relifh for them. And the more
they do fo, keeping up their good Humour,
the more exemplary they are % But the Clergy



mould be Patterns of this Abftinence beyond
all others. For if inflead of being grave and
Jludious and laborious in our Profeffion, we
diflipate ourfelves in Vanities, or link into
luxurious Delicacy or Indolence ; the Awe of
cur Character, and the Weight of our Preach-
ing will be loft : the thoughtlefs will imagine
they may fafely flep a little farther than we $
and thus will fall into palpable Sin : while the
indifferent to Religion and Virtue will make it
their Boaft, that we aim to be as like them as for
Shame we can ; and will blafpheme, on our Ac-
count, the worthy Name, by 'which we are called' 1 .
Poffibly fo many Cautions againft Fondnefs
for Pleafure may feem to leave thofe who regard
them, in a very joylefs and uneafy Condition.
But indeed they are only plain and very practi-
cable Rules for that Difcipline of our Temper
and Conduct, which is neccfTary for our true
Happinefs even here, and for our eternal Feli-
city hereafter. Chriftian Piety allows us,
tuider fuch Regulations as are evidently reafon-
able, every Enjoyment of Senle, every Delight
of elegant Tafte, every Exertion offocial Cheer-
ful nefs ; and forbids Nothing, but Mifchief,
Madncfs and Mifery. Then befides, it height-

j James ii. 7.

H 4 ens


ens to the utmoft all the nobler Satisfactions of
the Mind : that of fincere Good-will to all
Men ; that of tender Complacency in thofe, to
whom we are united more nearly: whence pro-
ceed honourable Efteem, and affectionate Re-
turns. Or, though we rnifs the Regard we de-
ferve from Men, we mall have a reviving Con-
fcioufnefs, that we have acted worthily, that
we have laboured to promote Goodnefs and
Happinefs on Earth, that the Sins and Suffer-
ings of our Fellow-creatures are not owing to
us. This applauding Teftimony of our Hearts
will indeed be mixed with the Grief of many
Failings : but alfo, with the Affurance, that
our heavenly Father forgives them, for the
Sake c-f our gracious Redeemer ; with the Ex-
perience, that he is enabling us to overcome
them, by the Grace of our inward San&ifier,
and preparing us daily for the Bleffednefs, to
which he invites us. For fuch Mercies we
cannot but love him ; and whoever doth fo, is
in Proportion beloved by him. The Senfe of
this muft give us great Compofure about every
Thing worldly, Difdain of every Thing vicious,
and Comfort in going through the very lowefl and
hardeft Ads of Duty. We fhall pafs the Days
of our Pilgrimage in as much Delight as the



Nature of it affords : and when we come to our
final Abode, every Capacity of fpiritual Enjoy-
ment, to which we have improved ourfelves here,
{hall be inconceivably augmented, and complete-
ly filled : we mall be abundantly fatisfied with the
Fatnefs ofGorfsHoufe, and drink of the River of
his Pleafures k . For in his Prefence is the Fullnefs
fyy> an ^ a * ^* s right Hand there are Plea-
fures for evermore *.

k Pfal. xxxvi. 8. * Pfal. xvi. 11.


[ "3 ]


HEB. xii. 2.

Looking unto Jefus, the Author and Pint/her of

our Faith : who, for the Joy that was fet be-

fore him, endured the Crofs, defpifng the Shame,

and is fet down at the right Hand of the Ti krone

of God.

T~^IRECTING our Eye is neceflary for guid*
JL^ ing our Steps - y and therefore the Apoftle
here directs the Eye of our Mind to Jefus
Chrift : whom if we fo contemplate, as to
learn what he was, and expects us to be,
Nothing will be wanting to carry us happily
through the Journey of Life. And it may be
ufeful to begin with confidering his familiar
Manifeftation of himfelf on Earth, whence we
(hall naturally be led to conlider his higher
and more awful Glories.

Now in this lowefl View, we fhall find him


I2 4 S E R M O N VI.
to have been the mofl amiable and the rnoft
venerable Perfon, beyond all Companion, that
the World ever knew. Meditate only with
ferious Attention on the evidently artlefs Ac-
count given of him in the Gofpels, and you
will fee, with an Admiration continually in-
creafing, how perfect his Character was in
every Point : how warm his Sentiments, yet
how juft his Notions, of Piety to his heavenly
Father; how ftrong and affectionate his Ex-
preffions of it ; yet how rational, and how
peculiarly fuitable to his very peculiar Situa-
tion : how compofed his Refignation, though
with the acutefl Feeling of all that he un-
derwent \ and how firm his Truft in God even
at the Hour of Death, under the moil pain-
ful Senfe of the Light of his Countenance be-
ing withdrawn from him : how regular his
Practice of the Whole of Religion, yet how
accurate his Preference of one Part of it to ano-
ther : how active and bold and perfevering his
Zeal ; yet how completely free from all the
Weaknefs, and all the Bitternefs, with which
Zeal is too often accompanied ; how intimately
tempered with Patience towards the flow of
Apprehenfion ; Efteem for the well-meaning
though erroneous; Pity for the bad, though


perverfe and incorrigible : what perpetual De-
monftrations he gave, of Benevolence and Pu-
rity in his Teaching, of Goodnefs and Conde-
fcenfion, Meeknefs and Tendernefs, in his Be-
haviour, to all Perfons, however provoking,
on all Occafions, however trying: yet Good-
nefs judicioufly exercifed, Condefcenfion with
Dignity, Meeknefs with due Severity againft
Sin, Tendernefs without Partiality, or impro-
per Compliances, to the neareft of his Kindred
or the deareft of his Difciples : how compaf-
fionate a Love he mewed to his Country ; yet
how unlimited a Good-will to all the World :
how remote he was from Self-indulgence, yet
how far from encouraging ufelefs Rigour and
Aufterity : how diligently he turned the
Thoughts of the Multitude, from empty Ad-
miration of his Difcourfes or his Works, to
the confcientious Performance of their own
Duties ; declined the moft favourable Oppor-
tunities of rifmg to worldly Power, and in-
culcated on his Followers the ftrongeft Warn-
ings of what he and they were to furFer : with
what Plainnefs he reproved both the People
and their Rulers, yet with what Care he fe-
cured the Refpedl owing from the former to
the latter : with what Simplicity and upright



Prudence he anfwered the Objections and cap-
tious Queftions levelled againft him, however
fuddenly attacked by them ; and, though in fo
public a Life tried every Way continually,
never once was overcome, never once difcon-
certed : how iurprifingly he avoided all the
Artifices and all the Violence of his Enemies,
as long as he chofe it ; and how much fuperior,
not only to them, but, if poffible, even to him-
felf, he appeared, after he had put himfelf into
their Hands, during the Whole of their bar-
barous and defpiteful Treatment. Nor can it
fail to be obferved, as a moft important Cir-
cumftance, that all his wonderful Perfections
were evidently natural to him, and fat abib-
lutely eafy upon him, without the lead Varia-
tion, or Inequality, or Effort exerted to raife
himfelf up to, or fupport, the higheft Excel-
lence, that he ever difplayed. In fhort, the
Character of Jefus Clirift, like the Frame of
God's Creation, the more deeply it is ftudied,
the more refpectfully it will be admired. Some
fmall Particulars in each, yet much fewer than
fuperfkial Obfervers imagine, it may be eafier
to cavil at, than to account for difUnclly : but
look at the Whole of either, and to every

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