« ElőzőTovább »
it at present, yet you will bitterly Repent of it some time or other. But Righteousness and Justice doth establish a Man's Ways,: And the upright Man, though he is not always the Hichest, yet always walketh most surely. And as for the final Event of Things; remember this, that God Almighty has pronounced, that no Unrighteous Men, no Covetotu, no Lyars, no Extortioners, shall enter into the Kjngdow of Heaven. But to go on.
III. The next Thing X have to exhort you to,' from the Words of my Text, is the Practice of Purity. For after the Apostle hath recommended the pursuit of Things that are True, and the Things that are Honest and Just, he next adds the Things that are sure. Meaning hereby that we should study to be Pure, and Chaste, and Temperate both in our Hearts and L^ives j avoiding all Excesses, and tewdness, and Sensuality. ;; ,': ; .. '.
And if he thought it convenient in that Age of Strictness, and Severity, and Devotion, to put the*"Christians in Mind of this; I am sure it is not only convenient, but necessary to do itf in this Age of ours, when Luxury and Debauchery, when Whoredom and Drunkenness, afnd all Sorts of Vices that are contrary to Part. fy, are grown to that height among us, thaC we seem to defy God Almighty by oar impudent Practice of them, and provoke hfift tOf give us up to Destruction. . I pray God make the whole Nation 6eepiv sensible of the Folly and Wickedness, as weft, as of the Danger and Dreadful Consequences of
these Practices. And as for you, who are here present, let me bespeak you in the Words of the Apostle j Dearly Beloved, I beseech you, as Strangers and Pilgrims, to abstain from Beshly Lusts, which war against the Soul. I beseech. you, as you haVe any Honour for your Lord! and Master; as you have any Regard to the Preservation of a Sense of Religion in your Minds; as you have any Concern for your Health, for your Estates, for your Families; as you have any Respect to-the Publick, that Effeminacy, and Sottishness, and Diseases, may not be entailed upon our Posterity. Lastly, asv you love your own Souls,' and hope ever toi fee the Face of God in Heaven, learn to live Soberly, learn to live Chastty, learn to practise Purity and Temperance in all your Conversation. Avoid Whoredom and Drukestness, as you would the Plague j for certainly they are the worst of Plagues to tjiem ,th;£t use them: For other Plagues dp'Ctnly; pilt our Bodies in Danger, but these do ehdariger°oth our Souls and Bodies. Nay, as tb the one" (I mean our Souls) they will prove certain; inevitable Destruction, without Repentance and Reformation.
I know these Things are made flight Mat-. ters of by a great many among us. But assure; yourselves, God will riot account them so; ,c is certain he will not, if we may 'believe his. Word; for it is there told us exprelly, that whoremongers and Adulterers, God will judge. And withal, that neither Adulterers, nor format ors* nor unclean Persons* nor Drunkards,
(bat [ball ever inherit the Kjngdom of God, or of Christ.
IV. I proceed to the last ftead of Advice, that is given in my Text. The Apostle having Instanced in Three Things necessary to be Daily thought Upon and pursued by all Christians, viz; Truth, and Honesty, and Purity^ leaves off to meddle any farther with Particulars, and sums up the rest of his Advice in Generals. And that Sum comes to this* That as we are Christians,, we should not only take care of the. Three fore-mentioned Things, but should make it our Business to improve ourselves in every other Sort ofVertue; Nay, in every other Sort of Thing that is Praise-worthy, or that is well esteemed of among Mankind. So that really it should be the Endeavour of our Lives, to render ourselves as excellent, and as exemplary for all Sorts of amiable Qualities, as it is possible for Men to be in this World.
This I take to be the full meaning of those four Expressions that follow in my Text, Whatsoever Things are Lovely, whatsoever Things are of good Report i if there be any Fertuej if there be any Praise, think on these Things.
And now, Brethren, fee from hence what your Obligations are. You that have such a glorious Light vouchfafed you; such unvaliiable Promises, such mighty Assistances made over to you by the Gospel of Christ; You must in Reason imagine, that in return of these great Advantages, great Things are expectea from you. . . ,
• \ Ic
It will not satisfie your Engagements, that you do believe and profess the Gospel; that you do no wrong to your Neighbours; that you are neither given to Lewdness nor Drunkenness; (though yet even these, as the World goes, are very great Things; >and could all Men that profess Christianity, truly fay this of themselves, we should see Heaven upon Earth.) But your Christianity obliges you to aspire aster greater Things: you must get yourselves possessed of the whole Circle of Vertues; you must be Kjnd and Charitable, as well as Just and Honest; you must be Modest, and Meek, and Humble, as well as Temperate and Chaste.
Nay, not only so, but you1 are to labour after all these several Vertues in the full Latitude and Extent of them, even to that Degree, that every Thing which hath but the Appearance of Evil, is to be avoided by you. You are not only to abstain from Acts of Injustice, but even from doing a hard Thing to any one; you are not only to keep yourselves within the known Limits of Temperance and Chastity, but to avoid all those Things that border upon the Vices opposite thereunto; and so as to all other Instances: If any Thing be of ill Report, and looks infamoufly to the sober Part of Mastkind ; why that very Consideration is enough to deter you from the Practice of it: For you are to recommend your Religion to all the Men in the World, by all the Ways that are possible.
In a Word, you are to endeavour to be as free from blame in your whole Conversation,
V o j,; I; T aS
as you possibly can; and not only so, but to be as good, and to do as much Good as your Circumstances will allow you.
This now is to be a Christian indeed; by thus endeavouring you truly walk worthy of that high and Heavenly Calling wherewith you are called, and you do (as the Apostle advises) adorn the Doffrine of God in all Things; and Happy, extremely Happy are they that do thus; for great is their Reward; Great even in this World, in the solid Peace and Assurance of God's Favour which they here enjoy, and which indeed far exceeds all the Blessings that the Earth can afford; but exceedingly great in the Life to come, when Jesus Christ shall come with all the Powers of Heaven to do Honour to those that have thus here honoured .him.
Thus have I gone through all the Parts of my Text; but I do not think that I ought lo to leave it. I have given you an Account of the Things that St. Paul hath here directed us to, to be the main Pursuit of our Lives. But I think likewise it will be proper to speak something of the Methods of that Pursuit, or the Means which we are to observe, if we would practise this Text; And here I am to begin anew with my Advices. Several Things I have to represent upon this Occasion, and to exhort you to. I am not much sollicitous, whether they strictly belong to my Argument or no '. But I desire to leave them with you,as Things that I judge to be veryuseful,and which I wish may be ever remembred by you.