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as mildness and compliance; there will be a great deal of uneasiness and unhappiness, and a very considerable diversity of circumstances. Some bad men may attain to abundance of outward grandeur and worldly prosperity, and some good men may be depressed, abused, and ill-treated. At the same time considering, that neither the affliction of the one, nor the prosperity of the other can last always; and that neither condition is unmixed, and entirely throughout uniform and of a piece, the inequality is not vast. For in much outward prosperity, the most established and secure, there will be cares and fears, and there may be stinging reflections. And in afflictive cases there are usually some intervals of ease, some alleviations and abatements of pain and grief, some refreshing supports, cordials, and consolations.
Wbich leads us to observe farther :
6. Piety has many advantages relating to this present life, and good men have grounds of support and comfort in
every condition : whereby the “ promise of the life that now is, is fulfilled and made good to them.
But the farther consideration of this point must be deferred to another season.
THE PROMISE ANNEXED TO GODLINESS.
For bodily exercise profiteth little : but godliness is profit
able unto all things, having promise of the life that now
is, and of that which is to come. 1 Tim. iv, 8. I HAVE already shown what we are to understand by bodily exercise, and that godliness has promise of the life which is to come.
III. The third thing is, that " godliness has promise of the life that now is." And for illustrating this point, several observations have been mentioned.
1. It is certain that the Divine Providence is over all his works, and that God has an especial and more favourable regard to righteous and truly good men than to others.
2. It ought to be owned, that the chief promise of the gospel is eternal life, or happiness in a future state.
3. Nevertheless there are under the gospel-dispensation promises and assurances of comfort, peace, and happiness to good men in this world.
4. But yet neither the law nor the gospel makes promises and assurances of remarkable worldly prosperity and greatness to all good men in this world.
5. Some inequality and diversity of circumstances, with a variety of afflictions and troubles, is not unsuitable to the present state and condition.
6. Piety has many advantages relating to this present life, and good men have grounds of support and comfort in every condition; whereby the promise of the life that now is, is fulfilled and made good to them.
This was just mentioned the last opportunity. And it is the main point, which is now to be made out by us.
And I presume, that all may by this time be sensible of the reasonableness of the method in which we have ceeded : first insisting upon the promise of the life which is to come: inasmuch as that promise, and the hope of future eternal life, cannot but be an immediate source of comfort and joy. And without that promise and hope, the practice of virtue, and the profession of truth, if possible, would in some cases be extremely difficult and uncomfortable. For what should induce men to hazard all their present interests for the sake of truth? With what satisfaction could an upright friend and patron of religion and virtue resign this present life, and submit to and undergo a painful death for the sake of truth, if there were no life to come where some recompense may be received ?
In showing, then, the advantages and comforts of piety here, and its promise of the life that now is, the promise of the life which is to come must be supposed, and taken for granted, or well proved : as indeed it is a certain truth, or faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,
In making out this point I intend to insist on the several following particulars.
We will compare the condition of good and bad men in this world. In the next place we will observe some temporal advantages which piety will be attended with, and may be the means of. It also secures from some temporal evils and troubles; and finally it affords comforts and enjoyments which are not to be had without it.
1. Let us compare the condition of good and bad men in this world. For possibly, if we do so, it may appear, that the irreligious, who mind nothing but the affairs of this world, have seldom even now, upon the whole, any great advantage or superiority above the truly good and virtuous.
It is true, there are some instances of bad men, or of such as concern themselves about nothing more than a form of godliness, who have a great deal of outward worldly prosperity; and there are some good men in very
low and mean circumstances, who meet with a great deal of worldly trouble and affliction; but it is not always so; neither do all bad men prosper; nor are all good men in adversity. Success does not always attend unrighteous or hypocritical men in their unrighteous designs. If they are unsuccessful ; if they are disappointed in their aims and pursuits, how distressed then is their condition ! how great their grief and vexation; which a good man avoids, or very much moderates upon like occasions.
Supposing the covetous and ambitious to prosper, and obtain the advantages they aim at; still those advantages are exceeding uncertain and vain. They cannot afford a great deal of satisfaction. For they are accompanied with cares and fears, and may be all lost. If they are not lost, they must be soon left ; how soon, man knows not. “ Riches," as the wise man observes, “ certainly make to themselves wings; they flee away as an eagle towards heaven,” Prov. xxiii. 5. And, says the Psalmist, “ Man that is in honour abideth not,” Ps. xlix. 12.
There is no stability in earthly things, and but little satisfaction to be had from them whilst they are possessed. How unsettled, for the most part, is the condition of those who are in places of honour and preferment! How numerous and bow watchful are their enemies and opposers ! For which reason fears and jealousies oftentimes perplex and torment the minds of those who are in the most exalted stations. And though men are much advanced, the greater power, honour, and splendour of some others may occasion envy, pining, grief
, and vexation. Wbilst men have many and great advantages, and almost every ingredient of worldly felicity, some one trouble or affliction, or a restless desire of some one thing still wanting, may imbitter every enjoyment.
There is not, then, any thing very tempting in the most splendid circumstances of bad men.
2. It should be considered, that there are many temporal worldly advantages, which do usually attend the practice of piety, and which it is the means of. Sobriety and temperance conduce to the health of the body, which is a very great blessing, and to the clearness of the understanding, the vigour of the mind, and all the intellectual faculties.
The health of the body, which is a very great blessing, the clcarness of the understanding, the vigour of the mind, and all its intellectual faculties attend
and are fruits of piety. Sobriety, with frugality and diligence, will ordinarily go a great way toward obtaining and securing a competence of all things needful and convenient; and the meek shall inherit the earth. Mildness of disposition and temper, and moderate affections, conduce to health and long life. These also, together with a prudent and agreeable behaviour toward all those we converse with, if they advance not to honour, will procure the favour and good will of some, and good repute with the wise and discerning. “ He that will love life,” says St. Peter, “ and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile. Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes
of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their pray, ers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil,” 1 Pet. iii. 10–12. It is the advice of Solomon : 6 Commit thy ways unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established,” Prov. xvi. 3. Again : « When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even bis enemies to be at peace with him,” ver. 7. He also observes : “ A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine," Eccl. viii. 1. Which is not more true of that part of wisdom, which consists in knowledge and understanding, and an ability to resolve difficult questions, than in that wisdom which consists in a virtuous conduct, and a mild, discreet, and obliging behaviour among men. Goodness and beneficence secure men respect in the time of their prosperity. And if their circumstances change, and they be brought into trouble, they will still be beloved and esteemed, and they will meet with some to protect and supply them, and interest themselves in their favour, as the exigence of their case requires.
3. Another thing to be said in the behalf of godliness is, that it tends to prevent, or secure from many evils. This is implied in the last-inentioned particular. Let me however show this more distinctly.
Many evils, some inward, others outward, are prevented by the several branches of piety. The sober and temperate avoid the bad effects and consequences of intemperance and licentiousness. He who governs his passions and affections lives free from many uneasinesses and disquietudes that torment and pierce others of ungoverned affections and passions. The truly pious man, that is not ambitious of honour and preferment, state and grandeur, who is not covetous, who enlarges not his desires after much wealth and large revenues, avoids solicitude and perplexity. The humble man that overlooks neglects and ungrateful returns, and some scornful and disdainful treatment, possesseth himself in peace, when others destitute of that virtue are rendered unhappy, or rather, make themselves unhappy, by the misconduct of other men.
The meek and patient, who can pass by, or bear with some injuries and offences, avoid strife and contention, and all the disagreeable consequences thereof, and the train of evils that attend them. Ungoverned excessive anger, deep and lasting resentment, beside the inward uneasiness they produce, oftentimes involve men in great and inextricable difficulties which might have been avoided. And whilst the man of ungoverned passion loses the favour and affection of friends, the mild and discreet subdues the hearts of, enemies, and gains their good will and esteem.
4. Lastly, Good men have many comforts and enjoyments which others are destitute of. Solomon recommending wis. dom openly declares, (not at all fearing to disappoint those who should hearken to his counsel, and make the experiment,)“ Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her
' paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is every one that retaineth her," Prov. iii
. 17, 18. And in another place he says: “ A good man shall be satisfied from himself,” ch. xiv. 14.
A discreet and thoughtful person, who has considered the nature of religion, and the extent of its precepts and obligations; who has formed to himself just sentiments concerning God and the way of serving him; and who does actually perform the duties suited to his capacities and circumstances; revering, honouring, and worshipping God, infinite in perfection, and the fountain of all good; loving, relieving, helping his fellow-creatures according to his power, with fidelity and readiness ; will ordinarily enjoy much peace and tranquillity of mind.
If at any time he have been misled from the paths of virtue, he has now repented of all his sins, and trusts in the forgiving grace and mercy of God, who pardons and accepts repenting and returning sinners: and he keeps himself in his favour by carefully avoiding all known sin, and performing sincerely every known duty.
He bas now the pleasure of integrity, though not of per