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If we profess to believe the Chriftian Religion, we expofe our felves to the Scorn and Contempt of every difcerning Man, if we do not live up to it.
Grace, as well as Nature, is liable to be starved, as well as poisoned.
The End of all God's Mercies and Benefits, is, to take us off our Sins, and to oblige and win us to our Duty. What corrupt Humours are to the Body, that Sin is to the Souls of Men, their Difeafe and their Death. All temporal Evils, which are fhort of Death, are properly Medicinals.
How different is the View of past Life in the Man who is grown old in Knowledge and Wisdom, from that of him who is grown Old in Ignorance and Folly. The latter is like the Qwner of a barren Country, that fills his Eye with the Profpect of naked Hil's and Plains, which produces nothing either profitable or ornamental: The other beholds a beautiful and fpacious Landscape, divided into delightful Gardens, Green Meadows, fruitful Fields and can scarce çaft his Eye on a fingle Spot of his Poffeffions, that is not covered with fome beautiful Plant or Flower.
What is this Life, but a Circulation of little mean Actions? We lie down and rise again, dress and undrefs, feed and wax hungry, work or play, and are weary, and then we lie down again, and the Circle returns; we spend the Day in Trifles, and when the Night comes, we throw ourselves into the Bed of Folly, amongst Dreams, and broken Thoughts, and wild Imaginations; our Reafon lies afleep by us, and we are, for the Time, as arrant Brutes as those that sleep in the Stalls, or in the Field. Are not the Capacities of Man higher than these? and ought not his Ambition and Expectations to be greater? Let us be Adventurers for another World: 'Tis, at least, a fair and noble Chance, and there is nothing in this, worth our Thoughts, or our Paffions; if we should
be difappointed, we are ftill no worfe than the reft of our fellow-Mortals, and if we fucceed in our Expectations, we are eternally happy.
We ought at all Times to poffefs our Souls with a juft Reverence, and right Apprehenfions of the Effence and Attributes of God, and not form our Belief of him by our own Fancies or Wishes; but by thofe Revelations he has given of himself in his Word.
We should from every Event that happens, whe ther natural or perfonal, always infer the Obligation and Neceffity of turning from our Sins, that Gratitude for paft Mercies may allure us to Good, and Fear of impending Judgments may drive us from Evil.
We generally make ourfelves miferable, for want of thofe Things, whofe Poffeffion would make us miferable.
Our Days are Evil upon four Accounts, viz. they are very fhort, very uncertain, very full of Trouble, and very full of Sin. Theft never enriches; Alms never impoverish; Prayers never hinder Work.
The Happiness of Mankind is not to be found in this World; but it is a Flower that grows in the Garden of Eternity, and to be expected only in its full Compliment and Fruition in that Life, which is to fucceed after our bodily Dissolution.
Count that Day loft whofe low defcending Sun,
The Fear of God, Contempt of the World, and ftedfaft Hope of Eternal Life, make Quietnefs of Mind, which is the great Happiness of Man. My only Ambition fhall be, to reft in God's Favour on Earth, and to be a Saint in Heaven. He never was a good Man that amends not; for if he were Good, he muft needs defire to be betser: Grace is fo fweet, that whoever taftes of it,
muft needs long after more; and if he defire it, he will endeavour it, and if he does but endeavour, God will crown it with Success.
Where can the Soul be better than with God? What sweeter Company, than that which Angels keep; or pleasanter Employment, than converfing in Heaven? Be fure to spend the Lord's Day in holy Preparation for Eternity.
I fee there is no Man fo happy, as to have all things; and no Man fo miferable, as not to have fome. Why should I look for a better Condition than all others? If I have the Poffeffion of fome good things, I will in Thankfulness enjoy them, and want the reft with Contentment.
There are three things, which, of all others, I will never ftrive for; the Wall, the Way, and the beft Seat. If I deserve well, a low Place cannot difparage me fo much as I fhall grace it; if not, the Height of my Place fhall add to my Shame, whilft every Man fhall condemn me of Pride, match'd with Unworthiness.
He hath the moft, that defireth leaft; a poor Man that hath little, and defires no more, is, in in Truth, richer than the greatest Monarch that thinks he has not what he fhould, or what he might; or that grieves there is no more for him to have. It is not Neceffity, but Ambition, that fets Men's Hearts on the Rack: If I have Meat, Drink and Apparel, I will learn therewith to be content: If I had the World full of Wealth befides, I could enjoy no more than I could use.
He is rich enough, that wanteth not; he is great enough, that is his own Mafter; he is happy enough, that lives to die well: Other things I will not care for, nor too much for these; but only for the last which can admit of no Immoderation.
There is little elfe here below but toyling, grieving, wishing, hoping, fearing, and Weari
nefs in all these : What Fools are we to be befotted with the Love of our own Trouble, and to hate our Liberty and Reft?
There is no Want for which a Man may not find a Remedy. Do I want Riches? he that defires but little, cannot want much. Do I want Friends? if I love God and my felf but enough, it matters not. Do I want Health? if I want it but a little, and recover, I fhall esteem it the more, because I wanted. Do I want Maintenance? a fmall thing contents Nature. Let my Mind be no more ambitious than my Back and Belly. The glutting of of the Body pines the Soul, and the Soul thrives best when the Body is pinched.
It is reported of an aged Father, who, when his Friends comforted him on his fick Bed, and told him they hop'd he should recover, anfwered, If I fhall not die at all, well; but if ever, why not now? furely it is Folly, what we must do, to do unwillingly. I will never think my Soul in a good Cafe, fo long as I am loath to think of dy ing, and I will make this my Comfort, not that I fhall live yet longer; but, that I fhall yet endeavour to do more good.
To be carried away with an Affectation of Fame, is fo vain and abfurd, that I wonder it can be incident to any wife Man; but thofe Names and Actions that are once on the File of Heaven, are paft the Danger of defacing. I will not care whether I be known, or remembered, or forgotten amongst Men, if my Name and Actions may live with God in the Records of Eternity.
These things are comely and pleasant to fee, and worthy of Honour from the Beholders: A young Saint; an old Martyr; a religious Soldier; a confcionable State man ; a great Man courteous; a learned Man humble; a filent Woman; a Son dutiful to his Parents; a merry Companion without Vanity; a Friend not chang'd
with Honour; a fick Man chearful; a Soul departing with Comfort and Affurance.
He that lives virtuously needs not doubt of finding a happy Fate. The fecureft way is to live. well, then we may be fure of a comfortable End. Let my Life please God, and I am fure the Success fhall please me.. Virtue and Vice are both Prophets, the one of certain Good, the other of certain Evil.
In Profperity, be moderate and humble; in Adverfity, patient and contented; for as our Lord hath purchased for us Grace to ufe all things aright, fo he hath obtain'd for us an Inheritance, that renders the best the World can give us, unworthy to be valued, and the worft it can give us unworthy to be feared, in refpect of the Bleffedness which he hath fettled upon us.
Shamefacedness, tho' many times a Weakness, and Betrayer of the Mind, is yet generally an Argument of a Soul, ingenuously and virtuously dif pos'd.
We are at this Day call'd reform'd Chriftians, God grant that we may not cheat our felves with an empty and infignificant Name; but let us fill up that glorious Title, and be reform'd in our Lives, as well as in our Religion; beautifying our holy Profeffion by an holy and becoming Conversation.
An Invocation to the Heavenly Power.
ESCEND, celeftial Spirit, from above, The uncreated Spring of Light and Love ; Perpetual Calms and fweet Security, Concord and graceful Order wait on thee; Decay and Death thy quick'ning Rays exclude, And springing Nature fmiles, by thee renew'd;