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or in whatever laudable Purfuits engaged. This will appear by considering a Man in the worst and best lights in which we can suppose him to be placed, and observing how Religion will affect him. If we suppose a Man poor, despised, out of Repute, and wanting every thing that the World calls great and good : This Man, without Religion, is beyond Expression wretched; he has no Refuge within or without him. Without are Scorn, Insults, Reproaches; within gnawing Appetites, which he cannot fatisfy; and tormenting Passions, which he cannot conquer. He is without Prospect of Redress, or Hope of Comfort. God deserts him, Men despise and abuse him, and he loaths himself. In short, he drags on a miserable animal Life, which is more wretched than that of the lowest of Brutes, in as much as he is conscious of his Misery, which they are not.But if on the other hand we suppose this Man, thus low and loathsome, to make Religion his constant Concern, how different is his Case! He will then be all joyous within, however gloomy without. Gleams of Light will break in upon him in the midst of all his Sorrows.

He can account for his Sufferings, and learn to bear them with Patience, if not Alacrity. His Peace of Mind gives him a Firmness of Soul, which is Proof against all the Frowns and Severities of the World. He stands like a Rock in a tempeltuous Season; the Winds and Waves may beat

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against him and deface him, but they cannot overturn him ; and, in the midst of all, his Hope in his God and Saviour is a Well-spring of Joy, of which he cannot be deprived. It darts Beams of Light through the thickest Clouds; and he has at least this great, this unspeakable Comfort, that he knows his Misery will soon be at an End, and be followed by an exceeding and an eternal Weight of Glory.

Again ; Let us suppose a Man arrived at the highest Pitch of Human Glory, and imagine him to be the richest, the most powerful, or the most voluptuous of Men, and see what this Man's Cafe will be with, and without, Religion. All things smile about him, Men reverence and admire him, and all is in Appearance Joy and Transport. Every Appetite is courted, and every Inclination gratified. But has he nothing within him to torment him? Has he no Passions to conquer, the Indulgence of which will give him continual Disquiet?. Is he sure not to desire another World, when he is Master of this? Is he fure not to be cholerick and peevish, and not to be angry, because he cannot command the Powers of Nature too? Can he look on others that are better, tho' less powerful than himself, without Envy or Jealousy? If not, such Passions will imbitter his best Enjoyments, and he will still be liable to Disappointments and to Misery. Human Passions seldom lose ground upon Indulgence ; and it has generally hap

pened,

pened, that Men fo situated, and not conducted by inward Principles of Duty, have proved in fact not only a Curse to Mankind, but an insupportable Burden to themselves. They generally appear in History as deep in Disquietude as in Blood; even the Gratification of their Appetites torments them ; and by the very Act of making others miserable, they shew that they are miserable themselves.

But we will farther suppose our Man of Power and Wealth to be a Man of Prudence too, and to restrain his Appetites with Discretion merely for the sake of Ease and Quiet: Yet all this will not secure him against Fear or Sickness. If he is temperate, must he therefore be unthinking too? Either he has a high Taste and Relish of his Pleasures, or he has not. If he has not, where is his Happiness? And if he has, he must be anxious about preserving them; and the Thoughts of an Interruption or Deprivation of them must be very grievous. And if we go as far as Imagination can do in his Behalf, and suppose him to be brave as well as regular, and able to face Sickness or Death with little Concern, yet, after all, his Gratifications rise no higher than Sensuality. He can have no Pleasure, but what arises from the Gratification of his Senses, or from Reflections on his present anrestrained, but fleeting Power. The sublime Pleasures that flow from the Love of God and heavenly Things are utterly unknown to him ; and

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very best that can possibly be made of his Case is this, that he revels in Lust and Luxury for a few Years without Controul, and then disappears and perishes for ever ; or, in other Words, that he lives a happy Brute, and he dies one.

But if we add the superior Comforts of Religion to these outward Advantages, what a Lustre do they give to all the rest! what a Calm and Serenity of Mind do they produce ! how happy is he in himself, and what a Blesfing to Mankind! His Power is a general Benefit to all within his Reach ; and by being employed to relieve, protect, and support others, every Act repays him double Consolation. His Riches are like gentle Showers to a thirsty Soil ; a whole Community is refreshed by them; and the more Benefit they reap, the higher his Satisfactions rise. He is the Idol of Man, and the Favourite of Heaven. He enjoys all that mortal Man can do, without Remorse or Fear of Danger. He has nothing to reproach himself withal ; and it is every Man's Interest to preserve him. His turbulent Passions are under the Restraints of Reason and Religion ; and he therefore suffers as little from them, as is consistent with a State of Imperfection. He feels not the Weight of the inevitable Calamities of human Life, because God answers bim in the Joy of his Heart. And he has no Reason to be afraid or unwilling to resign his Enjoyments, because he well knows they are but the Pledges of a better Inheritance. In short, he lives the Life, and reaps the Satisfactions of a rational Being, and he dies in Peace.

Thus it may appear what happy Influences the Belief and Practice of Religion will have on the Minds of Men in any Circumstances, as well the Rich and the Powerful, as the Poor and the Oppressed; hence may appear the inestimable Value of her Benefits, which the World can neither give nor take away; and consequently how exceeding preferable even oppressed Virtue and despised Innocence are to prosperous and triumphant Wickedness. Neither Fortune nor Solitude can screen a bad Man from himself; neither Want nor Violence can rob a good one of his Peace. To which if we add the Greatness, the Attainableness, and the Sufficiency of the future Rewards of Piety; it cannot surely be doubted, but that to fear the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom, and that to keep his Commandments is Understanding.

SERMON

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