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Fou have enriched yourself by such ways you set forth in a most pompous manner your ríches, your elegant furniture, your magnificent palaces, your superb equipages, and
you think the public take you for a person of great consideration, and that every one is erecting in his heart an altar to your fortune. No such thing. You deceive yourself. Every one says in private, and some blunt people say to your face, you are a knave, you are a public blood sucker, and all
your magnificence displays nothing but your crimes. May I not say to another, You affect to mount above your station by arrogant language, and mighty assumptions. You deck yourself with tities, and adorn yourself with names unknown to your ancestors. You put on a supercilious deportment, that ill assorts with the dust which covered you the other day, and you think by these means to efface the remembrance of your origin. No such thing. You deceive yourself. Every one takes pleasure in shewing you some of your former rags to mortify your pride, and they say to one another, he is a mean genius, he is a fool, he resembles distracted men, who having persuaded themselves that they are princes, kings, emperors, call their cottage a palace, their stická sceptre, and their domestics courtiers. May I not speak thus to a third, You are intoxicated with your own splendor, and fascinated with your own charms, you aspire at nothing less than to make all mankind your worshippers, offering incense to the idol you yourself adore, with this view you break through the bounds of law, and the decency of your sex; your dress is vain and immodest, your conversation is loose, your deportment is indecent, and you think the world take you for a sort of goddess. No such thing. You deceive yourself. People say you have put off christian inodesty, and laid aside even worldly decency, and as they judge of your private life by your public deportment, how can they think otherwise ? fathers forbid their sons to keep your company, and mothers exhort their daughters to avoid
3. Observe how godliness influences our fortune, by procuring us the confidence of other men, and above all by acquiring the blessing of God on our designs and undertakings. You are sometimes astonished at the alarming changes that happen in society, you are surprized to see some families decay, and others fall into absolute ruin. You cannot comprehend why some people, who held the other day the highest places in society, are now falling from that pinacle of
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deur, and involved in the deepest distress. Why this astonishment? There is a providence, and though God often hides himself, though the ways of his providence are usually impenetrable, though it would be an unjust way of reasoning to say such a person is wealthy therefore he is holy, such a one is indigent therefore he is wicked, yet the Lord sometimes comes out of that darkness, in which he usually conceals himself, and raises a saint out of obscurity into a state of wealth and honour.
4. Consider what an influence godliness hath in our happiness by calming our passions, and by setting bounds to our desires. Our faculties are finite : but our desires are boundless. From this disproportion between our desires and our faculties a thousand conflicts arise, which distress and destroy the soul. Observe the labour of an ambitious man, he is obliged to sacrifice to his prince his case, his liberty and his life; he must appear to applaud what he inwardly condemns; and he must adjust all his opinions and sentiments by the ideas of his master. See what toils worldly honour imposes on its votaries, a worldling must revenge an affront after he hath pardoned it, and to that he must expose his establishment and his fortune, he must run the risk of being obliged either to quit his country, or to suffer such punishment as the law inficts on those, who take that sword into their own hands, which God hath put into the hand of the magistrate, hc must stab the person he loves, the person who loves him, and who offended him more through inadvertence and animosity: he must stifle all the suggestions, which conscience urges against a man, who ventures his salvation on the precarious success of a duel, and who by so doing braves all the horrors of hell. Above all, what is the condition of a heart, with what cruel alternatives is it racked and torn, when it is occupied by two passions, which oppose and counteract each other. Take ambition and avarice for an example; for, my brethren; the heart of man is sometimes the seat of two opposite tyrants, each of whom hath views and interests different from the other. Avarice says keep, ambition says. give, avarice says hold fast, ambition says give up. Avarice says retire, ambition says go abroad. Ambition combatsavarice, avarice combats ambition, each by turns distresses the heart, and if it groans under tyranny, whether avarice or ambition be the tyrant iş indifferent. The pleasure of seeing one passion reign is always poisoned by the pain of seeing the other subdued. They resemble that woman, whose twin.
children struggled together within her, and who said . during the painful sensations, if it must be so, why was I a mother?
Piety prevents these fatal effects, it maketh us content with the condition, in which providence hath placed us: it doth more, it teacheth us to be happy in any condition, how mean soever it may be. I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith ito be content: I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Every where and in all things I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need, Phil. iv. 11, 12. .
5. Consider the peace, which piety diffuseth in the conscience. The prosperity of those, who desire to free theinselves from conscience, is such as to make them miserable in the midst of their greatest succees.
What pleasure can a man enjoy, who cannot bear to be one moment alone ; a man, who needs perpetual dissipation to hide from himself his real condition ; a man, who cannot reflect upon the past without remorse, think of the present without confusion, or the future without despair ; a man, who carries within himself that obstinate reprover, on whom he cannot impose siJence; a man, who already feels the worm that dieth not gnawing him; a man, who sees in the midst of his most jovial festivals the writing of a man's hund, which he cannot read, but which his conscience most faithfully and terribly interprets; I ask what pleasure can such a man enjoy?
Godliness not only frees us from these torments, but it communicates joy into every part of the pious man's life. If the believer be in prosperity, he considers it as an effect of the goodness of God, the governor of this universe, and as a pledge of blessings reserved for him in another world. If he be in adversity, indeed he considers it as a chastisement coming from the hand of a wise and tender parent: and the same anay be said of every other condition.
6. In fine consider how piety influences the happiness of life, by the assurance it gives us of a safe, if not a comfortable death. There is not a single moment in life, in which it is not possible we should die, consequently there is not one instant, that may not be unhappy, if we be not in a condition to die well. While we are destitute of this assurance, we live. in perpetual trouble and agitation, we see the sick, we meet funeral processions, we attend the dying, and all these different objects become motives of horror and pain. It is only when we are prepared to die well, that we bid defiance
to winds and waves, fires and shipwrecks, and that, by opposing to all these perilous casualties the hope of a happy death, we every where experience the joy, with which it inspires such as wait for it.
Collect all these articles, and unite all these advantages in one. I ask now, is it an improbable proposition, that virtue hath a reward in itself, sufficient to indemnify us for all we suffer on account of it, so that though there were nothing to expect after this life, yet it would be a problem, whether it would not be better all things considered, to practise godliness than to live in sin.
But this is not the consequence we mean to draw from our principles. We do not intend to make this use of our observations. We will not dispute with the sinner whether he finds pleasure in the practice of sin, but as he assures us, that it gives him more pleasure to gratify his passions than to subdue them, we will neither deny the fact, nor find fault with his taste, but allow that he must know better than any body what gives himself most pleasure. We only derive this consequence from all we have been hearing, that the advantages, which accompany godliness, are sufficient to support us in a course of action, that leads to eternal felicity.
This eternal felicity the apostle had chiefly in view, and on this we would fix your attention in the close of this dis
Godliness' hath promise of the life that now is, is a proposition, we think, plain and clear: but however it is disputable, you say, subject to many exceptions, and liable to a great number of difficulties: but godliness hath promise of the life that is to come, is a proposition which cannot be disputed, it is free from all difficulty, and can admit of no exception.
Having taken up nearly all the time allotted to this exercise, I will finish with one reflection. Promise of the life to come, annexed to godliness, is not a mere promise, it puts even in this life the pious man in possession of une part of the benefits, the perfect possession of which he lives in hope of enjoying. Follow him in four periods-First in societyNext in the closet-Then in a participation of holy ordinances-And lastly, at the approach of death: you will find him participating the eternal felicity, which is the object of his hope.
In society. What is the life of a man, who never goes into the company of his fellow creatures without doing them good: of a man who after the example of Jesus Christ goes
about doing good : a man, who every where shews the light of a good example, who endeavours to win all hearts to Ged, who never ceases to publish his perfections, and to celebrate his praise, what, I ask, is the life of such a man? It is an angelical life, it is a heavenly life, it is an anticipation of that life, which happy spirits live in heaven, it is a foretaste, and prelibation of those pleasures, which are at the right hand of God, and of that fulness of joy, which is found in contemplating his majesty.
Follow the pious man into the silent closet. There he recollects, concenters himself, and loses himself in God. There, in the rich source of religion, he quenches the thirst of knowing, elevating, perpetuating, and extending himself, which burns within him, and there he feels how God, the author of his nature, proportions himself to the boundless capacity of the human heart. There, ye earthly thoughts, ye worldly cares, ye troublesome birds of prey, that so often perplex us in life, there you have no access! There revulving in his mind the divers objects presented to him in religion, he feels the various emotions that are proper to each. Sometimes the rich gifts of God in nature, and the insignificance of man the receiver are objects of his contemplation, and then he exclaims, () Lord, my Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the eurth! When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, Psal. viij. 1. 3. I'cannot help crying, What is man that thou art mindful of him! And the Son of man that thou visitest him! ver. 4. Sometimes the brightness of the divine perfections shining in Jesus Christ fixes his attention, and then he exclaims, Thou art fairer than the children of men, grace is poured into thy lips, therefore God hath blessed thee for ever! Psal. xlv. 2. Sometimes his mind contemplates that train of favours, with which God hath enriched every believer in his church, and then he cries, Many, O Lord my God are thy wonderfuls works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us ward! they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee! Would I declare and speak of them? They are more than can be numbered! Psal. xl. 5. Sometimes it is the sacrifice of the cross, and then he saith, Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh ! i Tim. jii. 16. Sometimes it is the joy of possessing God, and then his language is, My soul zs satisfied as with marrow and fatness ? Psal. Ixiii. 5.