Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

to do, which renders our Obedience possible and easy ; but the Motives of Obedience from the Rewards of Virtue, and Punishment of Wickedness, must be fetch'd from a Future Judgment $ for these unseen and absent Rewards and Punishments are the only Object of Faith, which is the substance of things hoped for , and the evidence of things not seen, n.Heb. i. And Faith is the only true Principle of Gospel-Obedience: Present Rewards and Punishments were the Motives of the Mosaical Covenant, and this is a legal Spirit to serve God in expectation of a presentReward,or for fear of someTemporal Punishment; but Future Rewards and Punishments are theMotives of the Gospel, the Exercise of Faith, and the true Spirit of Sons i the not observing which was the occasion of that foolish Mistake, That to serve God for a Reward, is a legal and servile Spirit; which is true, if we speak of present and Temporal Rewards, but not of those which are Spiritual and Eternal. And if we will be true and sincere Christians, here we must fix our eye, and with Moses have resoect to a future Recompence of Reward; for no other Motives will fit all rimes, nor conquer all Temptations, nor extend to all Acts of Religion.

Those who serve God for a present Reward, to make their Fortunes in this World, must quit his Service when Religion exposes thim to Sufferings in Persecutions, and to the loss of all things for Christ's fake: Those who abstain from Sin for fear of some Temporal Punishments , must commit such Sins , when they shall suffer more by not committing them; when Men serve God for Temporal Hopes or

H j Fears, Fears, whenever the World promises greater Prosperity, or threatens more terrible things, they mutt necessarily change their Master, for they must take that fide on which the present Advantage lies."

Good Men sometimes meet with a Reward in this World j Virtue may in some Junctures make Men Rich and Honourable; but whoever courts Virtue for Riches and Honours, will never court a poor and despised Virtue; that is, he does not indeed court Virtue, but Riches and Honours; and will rather take as much Virtue with them as is necessary to that purpose, than go without them; but Riches and Honours, with or without Virtue, are always welcome: Whoever makes the Advantages of this Life his Reasons and Motives to Virtue, will do no more good than will advance his present Interest, and will be good no longer; and this is a very sorry Virtue, it had need have some Reward in this World, for it will have none in the next.

Those Temporal Promises which are contained in the Gospel, were never intended by our Saviour as the Rewards or Motives of our Obedience, but only to encourage and support us in our Pilgrimage in this World, that if .we seek sirs the Kingdom os God, and his R ighteousness, if we give up omifelves to the Obedience of the Gospel, and live upon the Hopes of unseen things, and lay up Treasures in Heaven, all other things fliall be added unto w, God will provide what is needful for our passage through this World, whatever Difficulties and Discouragements we may meet with from Men. .' .Yv

The design of the Gospel is to take our Hearts. from thisWorld, to teach us not to lay up for our selves Treasures on Earth, but in Heaven; not to love this World, nor the things that are in the World; and therefore it is impossible that Temporal Blessings should be a Gospel Motive ; nothing in this World can be a Motive, unless we love the World, and therefore this can be no Motive of the Christian Religion, which teaches us not to love the World; unless the love of the World can be a proper Motive and Argument to make us despise it, and live above it.

And therefore I confess I have sometimes wished that there had been less stress laid upon the Temporal Rewards and Advantages of Virtue, to persuade men to Religion; and upon the Temporal Evils and Miseries of Sin, to discourage men from it; for this is not always true; and if it were, it is an Argument which will persuade no man; and if it did, it cannot advance them to the heights and perfections of a ChristianVirtue, and therefore is no Gospel Motive. As for Instance:

Some Virtues are very healthful, prolong our Lives, and prevent a great many painful and mortal Diseases,which the contraryVices expose men to; such asTemperance and Chastity; other Virtues are very proper methods of thriving in the World, such as Diligence, Prudence, Justice; others give us Reputation and Honour, advance us to Rule, and Empire, and Publick Trusts: Now this is sometimes true, and sometimes not, as the State of the World now is, as I shewed you before, that whatever natural efficacy Virtue may have to make men happy, or Vice to H 4 snake makes them miserable, this may be in a great measure defeated by the external Circumstances of our Condition in thisWorld; and therefore this can never be a Motive, that is, it cannot be a reason why we should chuse Virtue, because it is not always a reason; nay, it is as often a reason for Vice as for Virtue and if it be a good reason for one, I cannot fee why it should not be a good reason for the other; for if it be areason at; all, it is a reason for that side on which at present it is,whetherthatbeVirtue orVice: Indeed these Temporal Advantages of Virtue are not so much Reasons forVirtue,as against Vice, and that too only against suchVices, or such Degrees and Instances of Vice, as are destructive to Mens Health, or Fortunes, or Reputation: However, this reason, be it what it will, will reach no 'farther than to such a degree of Virtue as will contribute to a happy and prosperous life in this World, and therefore will not raise us above this World, will not teach us to despise Riches and Honours, and BodilyPleasures, nay, is not consistent with a meanvalue, and great indifferency to present things, and therefore it cannot make us Christians; and is a very improper Argument to persuade men to be Christians; it never made a Christian yet, and never will do.

And therefore let us net think to conquer the Deceits and Flatteries of theWorld and the Flesh, with such Arguments as these, which have no strength in them, which are more apt to make Men fond of this World , than to conquer it: But this is our Victory which overcomes the World, even cur Faith; the hope and fear of unseen Things, or a Future Judgment, when

God God will eternally reward good men, and punish the wicked. This is an Argument in all Times, and in all Conditions: it will make us despise the World when it smiles and flatters, and scorn its Frowns: Here are hopes too big for thisWorld, and fears too great and powerful for its fears; such hopes as can support us under the greatest Sufferings; such fears as can imbitter all the sweets of Sin; and therefore let us keep the Future Judgment always in our eye; let us fetch our Supports and Comforts from thence; let us oppose these Hopes and Fears against all Temptations, for here is our strength; all other Arguments are easily baffled, but nothing can answer the Argument of Eternal Life and Death.

SECT. VII.

Third Inference" To refer all Judgment to GOD.

III.TF GOD will certainly judge the World, JL let us refer all Judgment to God; or as St. Paul speaks , Therefore judge nothing before the time , until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart; and then stnaU every man have praise of God, i Cor. 4. y. Nothing is more indecent nor more dangerous, than for men who must be Judged themselves, to take God's Work out of his hands, and to assume a Prætorian Power to Judge, Acquit, and Condemn whom they please, without expecting the Judgment of God : To Judge is God's Prerogative, and he will Judge the World: And what hast thou to do to judge another mans fervent? to his own master he shall Hand

w

« AnteriorContinuar »