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are sure the Means which Religion affords SERM.
II. will never fail of obtaining the End we all desire, because a God of Truth hath said it.---' The Scripture abounds with Promises of ternal Life and Happiness to those that fear God and keep his Commandments, but it no where promises either upon any other Conditions ; for 'tis not the Rich, the Mighty, or the Learned, who are entitled to Happiness, but they who are religious and good. Riches, for Example, are of themselves of ho Use to make a Man happy, unless Happinefs were to be bought, whereas it is to be purchased no otherwise than by being rich in good Works; nor is it to be obtained by Power and Might, by Conquests and great Atchievements, but by Meekness and Humility, by conquering a Man's Self, and subduing his rebellious Passions: For be that is now to Anger is better than the Mighty, and he that ruleth his Spirit, than he that taketh a City. And what will even the Wisdom of Learning and Knowledge signify, unless a Man is wife unto Salvation? The Knowledge of Sciences, however useful in its Way, has but little Tendency to a good Life. He who professes Religion, and makes it his Business to be a good Christian, must be skill'd in Knowledge of
Serm. another Kind; he must know the Love of II. , Christ, which passeth all Knowledge, he
must be skill'd in that Knowledge which will enable him to provide for his eternal Happiness, which is no otherwise to be obtained but by fearing God, and keeping his Commandments; for a Man mày go to Heaven without Philosophy, tho' he can never expect to go there without Religion. But what then is Learning a Thing of no Consequence? Is human Wisdom and Knowledge of no Value? Is it no Advantage to be a Scholar? Yes certainly, n:uch every Way ; it is of great Use, not only in improving our Understandings, but also in obtaining many great and noble Ends in Life, which we could never obtain without it; and 'tis then only of little Use when 'tis consider'd apart from Religion ; for when 'tis separated from That, 'tis Science falsely so called, and is not true Wisdom, but only the Appearance of it; 'tis not that Wisdom which makes Men better, but that which fets Men even below their Inferiors; fo true is that Saying of the Son of Syrach, He that hath small Understanding, and feareth God, is better than one that hath much Wisdom, and transgresseth the Law of the Most High.------Solomon, after all his
diligent diligent and thorough Search after Wisdom, SERM.
II. and his utmost Enquiry into every thing that had even the Appearance of it, finding that nothing here below could fatisfy the Mind of Man, pronounces Vanity and Vexation upon all his Experiments, and being at last assured that Religion afforded the only Means of obtaining Happiness, makes that the Sum of all our Duty; and thus concludes his whole Enquiry : Fear God, and keep his Commandments, for this is the whole Duty of Man.-----When the young Man asked our Saviour what he fhould do to inherit eternal Life, he did not turn him over to Arts and Sciences, and the Wisdom of this World, or bid him do what was not in his Power; but said, If thou wilt enter into Life, keep the Commandments. And when a certain Lawyer asked him the fame, Question, either to try his Knowledge, or improve his own, or to see whether he would teach any thing contrary to the Law of Mofes, he enjoins nothing contrary to That, but refers him to his own Rule; What is written in the Law ? How readest thou ? And he answered, Thou malt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, and with all thy Soul, and with all thy Strength, and with all thy Mind, and thy Neighbour as
SERM. thyself. Upon which our Saviour did not II. say this was not sufficient, or that Matters
of a speculative Nature were more necessary to Salvation, but said, Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou Malt live. And indeed 'tis very consistent with the Nature of an all-wise and good Being, who would that all Men should be saved, to make the Way to Happiness plain and easy; and since eternal Happiness is a Matter of infinite Concernment, and not confined to a few who have more Learning, and greater Abilities than others, but that the Learned and Unlearned, Bond and Free, are all to be saved through the Mediation of Jesus Christ, if they will make use of proper Means, 'tis but reasonable to suppose that thofe Means should bc such as are fuitable to every Man's Capacity, and such likewise as will never fail of obtaining their End.--
Since then the Fear of the Lord, or a religious Life, is the only true Wisdom, what remains but that we endeavour to obtain it by a suitable Behaviour and Conversation in every Action of our Lives? And indeed there seems to be less Need of any great Perfuafion in this Matter, because there are few but are willing and forward enough to be thought wite, even at the Expence of
their Modesty; and therefore to be really Sermo fo one would think should be much more
II. desirable, especially if we consider, that this is not the Wisdom that makes us wise only for a Day or a Year, but for ever; and tho' it be true that Tongues Mall cease, Prophecies fail, and Knowledge be done away, yet the Wisdom of Religion shall never fail us, because it leads us to a place where nothing shall cease or be done away.----When a Man gains 'his End by proper Means, however trifling that End is when obtained, he is esteemed wife; how much wiser then must he be, who has obtained an End of the greatest Concernment in the World, even the Salvation of his Soul. And since People generally spare no Pains to obtain what, after all, is little else but Vanity and Sorrow, and hardly worth the Labour that is bestowed upon it; if they would but act in an equitable Manner, as in other Cafes, they would use the greatest Pains and Industry about that which is of the greatest Moment: That, upon which a whole Eter. nity depends, certainly requires our utmost Care and Concern: And they have no Right to make use of any Argument with relation to the Difficulty of the Task, who have. not at least taken the fanie Pains about it as E 2