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SER M. drawn from the Praise and Honour that w was (not only to redound to God from

him, but) to be given to God by him.

1.

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This Duty, therefore, is the Debt and Law of our Nature. And it will more distinctly appear to be such, if we consider the two Ruling Faculties of our Mind, the Understanding, and the Will, apart; in both which it is deeply founded: In the Understanding, as in the Principle of Reason, which owns and acknowledges it; in the Will, as in the Fountain of Gratitude and Return, which prompts, and even constrains us to pay it.

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Reason was given us as a Rule and Measure, by the help of which we were to proportion our Esteem of every thing, according to the Degrees of Perfection and Goodness which we found therein. It cannot, therefore, if it doth its Office at all, but apprehend God as the best and most perfect Being; it must needs see, and own, and admire his infinite Perfections. And this is what is strictly meant by Praise; which, therefore, is

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express’d in Scripture by confessing to God, SERM.
and acknowledging him ; by aforibing to
him what is his Due; and, as far as This
Sense of the Word reaches, 'tis impossi-
ble to think of God without praising
him. For it depends not on the Under-
standing how it shall apprehend Things,
any more than it doth on the Eye, how
Visible Objects shall appear to it.

The Duty takes a farther and surer Hold of us, by the Means of our Will, and that strong Bent towards Gratitude, which the Author of our Nature hath implanted in it. There is not a more active Principle than This in the Mind of Man; and surely, that which deserves its utmost Force, and should set all its Springs a-work, is God; the Great and Universal Benefactor, from whom alone we receiv'd whatever we either have, or are, and to whom we can possibly repay nothing but our Praises, or (to speak more properly on this Head, and according to the strict Import of the Word) our Thanksgivings. Who hath first given Rom. xi. to God, (faith the great Apostle in his

usual

35, 36.

I.

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6 ER M. usual Figure) and it shall be recompened

unto him again? A Gift, it seems, al-
ways requires a Recompence: Nay, but
of him, and through him, and to him are
all things s Of him, as the Author; Through
him, as the Preserver and Governor; To
him, as the End and Perfection of all
Things: To whom, therefore, (as it fol-
lows) be Glory for ever; Amen!

Gratitude consists in an equal Return
of Benefits, if we are able; or of Thanks,
if we are not : which Thanks, therefore,
must rise always in Proportion as the
Favour's receiv'd are great, and the Re-
ceiver incapable of making any other
Sort of Requital. Now, since no Man
hath benefited God at any time, and yet
every Man, in each Moment of his Life,
is continually benefited by him, what
Itrong Obligations must we needs be un-
der to Thank him? 'Tis true, our Thanks
are really as insignificant to Him, as any
odlier Kind of Return would be; in them-
telves, indeed, they are worthless; but his
Goodness hath put a Value upon them:
He hath declar'd, he will accept them in
lieu of the vast Debt we owe: and, after

that,

I.

that, which is fittest for us, to difpute SEAM how they come to be taken as an Equivalent, or to pay them?

It is, therefore, the Voice of Nature (as far as Gratitude it self is fo) that the Good Things we receive from above, should be sent back again thithet in Thanks and Praises, as the River's run Ecclef. into the Sea; to the Place (the Ocean ofi. 7. Beneficence,) from whence the River's come, thither fhould they return again.

II. We have confider'd the Duty II. absolutely; we are now to compare it with Others, and to see what Rank it bears among them. And here we shall find, that, among all the Aets of Religion, immediately address’d to God, This is much the Nobleft, and most Excellent; as it must needs be, if what hath been laid down be allow'd, that the End of Man's Creation was, to praise and glorify God. For That cannot but be the most noble and excellent Act of any Being, which best answers the End and Design of it. Other Parts of Devotion, such as Confession and Prayer, seem not Oringially

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SERM. to have been design'd for Man, nor Man

for them. They imply Guilt, and Want,
with which the State of Innocence was
not acquainted. Had Man continu'd in
that Estate, his Worship (like the. De-
votions of Angels) had been paid to
Heaven in pure Ads of Thanksgiv-
ing; and nothing had been left for him
to do, beyond the enjoying the good
Things of Life, as Nature directed, and
praising the God of Nature who bestow'd
them. But being fallen from Innocence,
and Abundance; having contracted Guilt,
and forfeited his Right to all sorts of Mer-
cies; Prayer and Confession became necef-
fary for a time, to retrieve the Loss, and
restore him to that State, wherein he
should be ableto live without them. These
are fitted, therefore, for a lower Dispen-
sation; before which, in Paradise, there
was nothing but Praise, and after which,
there shall be nothing but that, in Heaven,
Our perfect State did at first, and will at
last consist in the Performance of this Du-
ty; and herein, therefore, lies the Excel-
lence and the Honour of our Nature.

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