« PrécédentContinuer »
SER M. called, Religion itself is least of all concernIT.
ed: For Religion is not concerned about things of an indifferent Nature, but about Matters weighty and substantial. The Kingdom of God, fay St Paul, is not Meat and Drink, but Righteousness and Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost : For he that in these things serveth Christ, is acceptable to God, and approved of Men. So that the true Religion is not that which lies out of our Reach, nor does it consist of trilling Speculations, but it goes into the Heart as well as the Head, and shines forth in our Lives.
But this only by the way. Now taking it for granted, that that which directs us to the best End is the only true Wisdon, because 'tis agreeable to the Dictates of a rational Creature acting as such, I shall prove that Religion directs us to the best End, and therefore that it is the only true Wisdom. The best and most desirable End that can be imagined is eternal Happiness; and tho' itis what all Men wish for, yet nothing but Religion points it out to us, because nothing but that can give us any Certainty or Assurance of a future State, where alone it is to be had; and which the Christian Religion especially has made manifest by
the Appearance of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Serm. who hath brought Life and Immortality to
IT. Light thro' the Gospel. This was a great Secret to the wiseft of the Gentile World, who, after all their curious Searches, and philosophical Inquiries, could not find where to set
their Place of Rest; and after all their Disputes about the Nature of Happiness, they made it a thin metaphysical Shadow rather than any thing real, and either left it as they found it, or else explained it by what wanted to be explained again, and was still the Matter in Dispute : And indeed 'tis no wonder that they who can't see beyond the Grave, with any Clearness or Certainty, can't discover the Seat of Happiness
, and find out a Reward for the Righteous, Nature itself can never demonstrate this ; nor can they who dwell in Houses of Clay, without some Assistance from Above, have any
tolerable Apprehensions of Houses ilot made with Hands, eternal in the Heavens.------ The Stoicks asserted, that Virtue was itself a sufficient Recompence, and an an ample Reward for all the Pains, Troubles and Sufferings that Men undergo in this Life; which, tho' it is indeed an honoura. ble Opinion of Virtue, and a noble Advance in Favour of Religion ; and tho' it be likeD 2
SERM. wise certain, that a good Man will be faII.
tisfied from himself, yet all this is only true in part, and will aniount to no more than this, that it is very lovely and desirable, and which every wife and good Man would certainly chufe, and that too upon its own Account, by reason of the Satisfaction that arises from it. But if the Good and Bad
go down together in the Dust, if one thing befallethi Men and Beasts, and as the one dieth so dieth the other, and we shall be hereafter as if we had never been, what is become of the Reward then ? Shall it be a Reward to them who are not in a Capacity of apprehending it? who have not a Being to enjoy it in ? Had they consider'd it noť as the End, but only as the Means, they would not have pulld down with one Hand what they endeavour'd to build
with the other, but would have given Virtue its due Praise and Honour, and not have detracted from it, by cutting off that Reward which will one Day be the Consequence of it; für surely, fays Solomon, there is a Reward, and thine Expectation pall not be cuit off
. , And indeed this is as reasonable for a Man that has a Soul, and performs the Conditions required, to expect, as it is for a God of infinite Bounty and Goodness to
bestow.----Hard would have been the Lot Serm.
SERM. bour which he taketh under the Sun ? Only
to wear away a few Days of Sorrow and.
Second Place, that it is the only true Wifdom, because it affords us the best Means of obtaining it.---- Now those Means are çertainly the best that never fail of obtaining their End, which are only to be found in Religion. All other Means, by some unforeseen Accident or other, are often dif. appointed of the End they were designed to obtain ; of which there is no Occasion for any Proof, because every one has, one Time or other, made the Experiment : But we