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Our Enquiry into what is meant here, will be very short : For who is there, that understands any thing of Religion, but knows, that the offering Praise and Thanks to God implies, our having a lively and devout Sense of his Excellencies, and of his Benefits ; our recollecting them with Humility and Thankfulness of heart; and our expressing these Inward Affections by suitable Outward Signs ; by reverent and lowly Postures of Body, by Songs, and Hymns, and Spiritual Ejaculations; either Privately, or Publickly ; either in the Customary and Daily Service of the Church, or in its more Solemn Assemblies, conven’d upon Extraordinary Occasions ? This is the Account, which every Chirstian easily gives himself of it; and which, therefore, it would be needless to enlarge upon. I shall only take notice on this 'Head, That Praise and Thanksgiving do, in Strictness of Speech, signify things somewhat different. Our Praise properly terminates in God, on the account of his natural Excellencies and Perfections; and is that Act of Devo
SERM. tion by which we confess and admire
his several Attributes : But Thanksgiving is a narrower Duty, and Imports only a grateful Sense and Acknowledgment of past Mercies. We Praise God for all his glorious Acts, of every kind, that regard either Us, or Other Men; for his very Vengeance, and those Judgments which he sometimes sends abroad in the Earth : But we thank him (properly speaking) for the Instances of his Goodness alone; and for such only of these, as We our felves are some way concern'd in. This, I say, is what the two Words strictly imply : But since the Language of Scripture is generally less exact, and useth Either of them often to express the Other by, I shall not think my self oblig'd, in wliat follows, thus nicely always to distinguish them.
Now the great Reasonableness of this Dury of Praise, or Thanksgiving, and our several Obligations to it, will appear;
if we either consider it absolutely in it self; as the Debt of our Natures ; or compare it with other Duties, and shew the Rank
it bears among them; or set out in the SERM. last place, some of its peculiar Properties and Advantages, with regard to the devout Performer of it.
I. The Duty of Praise and Thanksgiving, consider'd absolutely in it felf, is, I say, the Debt, and Law of our Nature. We had such Faculties bestowed on us by our Creator, as made us capable of satisfying this Debt, and obeying this Law; and they never, therefore, work more naturally and freely, than when they are thus employ’d.
'Tis one of the earliest Instructions given us by Philosophy, and which hath ever since been approved and inculcated by the wisest Men of all Ages. That the Original Design of making Man was, that he might Praise and Honour Him who made him. When God had finish'd this goodly Frame of things, we call the World, and put together the several Parts of it, according to his infinite Wifdom, in exact Number, Weight, and Measure; there was still wanting a Crea
SERM. ture in these lower Regions, that could
quisite Contrivance of it; that from con-
be said, at the first Moment in which Pl. xix. 1. they stood forth, to declare bis Glory,
and the Firmament to Shew his Handy-
I. This, I say, hąth been the Opinion all along of the most thoughtful Men, down from the most ancient Times : And tho' it be not Demonstrative, yet is it what we cannot but judge highly reasonable, if we do but allow, that Man was made for some End, or other; and that he is capable of perceiving that End. For then, let us search and enquire never so much, we shall find no Other Account of him that we can rest upon fo well. If we say, That he was made purely for the good Pleasure of God; this is, in effect, to say, that he was made for no Determinate End; or for none, at least, that We çan difcern. If we say, That he was design'd as an Instance of the Wisdom, and Power, and Goodness of God; This indeed may be the Reason of his Being in general; for 'tis the common Reason of the Being of every Thing besides. But it gives no account, why he was made such a Being as he is, a reflecting, thoughtful, inquisitive Being : The particular Reason of this seems most aptly to be