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Satisfaction from standing together so long, S E R M. nor the other complain of not being separated sooner. A Worm that diety, and a Fire unquenchable (how late soever they may begin) are a Vengeance sufficient for the greatest Oppression and Wrong: Anda never fading Crown of Glory (though it were not to be received till Millions of Ages hence) would yet come Time enough to recompence the longest Life of Sufferings and Contempt. For since Punishment and Rewards, when once they begin, must both last for ever ; though Ages of Ages were still to pass before they commenced, yet what a Trifle, what a Moment will all those Ages appear, compared with that unmeasurable Eternity that must succeed? From these Considerations therefore we cannot but infer, what an Injury we offer to the Goodness, the Justice, and the Sovereignty of God, when we either envy the continued Prosperity of the Wicked, or think ourselves not timely enough delivered from their Ill-usage, Insolence and Tyranny.
And thus having gone through the several Heads of my Discourse, and having shewn it to be our Interest as well as our Duty, to bear with bad Men ; I shall now endeavour, in very few Words, to apply the whole, by
SER M. Thewing what Influence, the Consideration of
these Points ought to have upon our Practice.
be one and the same: I would willingly persuade myself that in this field, or Enclosure, the Seed is all good, and consequently I would speak to you in a Language that is adapted rather to Wheat than to Tares. It is true, as the Abundance of Tares enhances the Price of the good Seed ; fo I have shewn that the worst of Men are of Use to call forth and to distinguish the best. Since it is to these that the best Men are indebted for the Trial and Proof of their Virtue, which sets them beyond the Rank of those who have no such Trials to undergo. In this way therefore I again repeat, that wicked Men are continually of signal Use to the Good: But then they are of Use to them, just in such a Manner as the Devil is, they mount them to Heaven, by the Rebound with which they escape their Attempts to draw them to Hell. A Reflection, one would think, that if the worst of Men could but once have thought enough to make, they would despise and loath themselves for the Part they carry on and act in the World: Damning themselves certainly by their At
tempts to damn and ruin others, and plung-SER M.
VIII. ing themselves still into deeper Damnation by every Design and Attempt that succeeds : Since every conquest they gain will most afsuredly hereafter hang about them like a Load, and the Sins of others being added to their own, shall sink them so much lower in Proportion, into the bottomless Lake of Brimstone and Fire. But let us, my Brethren, chufe to humble them another Way : Let us not enhance their own Guilt and Torments, by laying ours at their Door ; lest by being prevailed on to comply with their Sins, we share in their Punishment. But rather let us disappoint and mortify the Designs, by rising as high proportionably in Virtue, as they would sink us in Vice ; and climb to Heaven by those Cords of Vanity and Sin, which they make Use of as Instruments to draw us to Hell. And if we can keep ourselves thus free and clear from their Allurements and Temptations ; we shall easily know in what Manner to behave ourselves with Regard to the Injuries and Oppressions they lay on us. For we shall only have Occasion for Patience and Forbearance, which by a Soul good-natured and well-disposed are not difficult to be obtained. For fince the Design of Provi
SER M. dence in continuing the Wicked in the World,
is to bring them to Repentance, it certainly behoves us to forward that Design (as far as in us lies) by affording them the Benefit of our good Advice and pious Examples. If, notwithstanding all our Endeavours, they continue obstinate, and to misemploy the Time God graciously allows them ; Be it to themselves : We have done our Parts, and therefore the Miscarriage cannot be laid at our Doors. We are only to be careful not to repine at God's Forbearance of them, nor to envy them their present Prosperity and Happiness : The greatest Enjoyment this World can afford, being but a poor Exchange for the Loss of Eternity. And therefore fince they chuse their good Things here, let us commiserate their Choice, but not think them too happy. - Should they at last return us Evil for Good, and load us with Reproaches for our fincere Endeavours; All we have to do is to bear it with Patience, and to remember that though a universal Reformation of Mankind, in this State of the World, is what we can never hope for ; — yet to make our Advantage from the Wickedness of others is what is in our Power. And what can a Christian desire more ? It Ihould be, me
thinks, a sufficient Consolation under the SER M.