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their mind with cares, and pierce their heart with sorrows; to which they sacrifice their present ease and content, yea, to which commonly they prostitute their honor and conscience ? This, if you mark it, is the great mistress, which is with so passionate rivality every where wooed and courted; this is the common mark which all eyes aim and all endeavors strike at; this the hire which men demand for all their pains, the prize they hope for all their combats, the harvest they seek from all the year's assiduous labor. This is the bait by which you may inveigle most men any whither; and the most certain sign by which you may prognosticate what any man will do : for mark where his profit is, there will he be. This some professedly and with open face, others slily and under thin veils of pretence, (under guise of friendship, of love to public good, of loyalty, of religious zeal ;) some directly and in a plain track, others obliquely and by subtile trains; some by sordid and base means, others in ways more cleanly and plausible; some gravely and modestly, others wildly and furiously; all (very few excepted) in one manner or another, do clearly in most of their proceedings level and drive at.*
This practice then being so general, and seeing that men are reasonable creatures, that it is so cannot surely proceed from mere brutishness or dotage; there must be some fair color or semblance of reason, which draweth men into, and carrieth them forward in this way. The reason indeed is obvious and evident enough; the very name of profit implieth it, signifying that which is useful or conducible to purposes really or seemingly good. The gain of money, or of somewhat equivalent thereto, is therefore specially termed profit, because it readily supplieth necessity, furnisheth convenience, feedeth pleasure, satisfieth fancy and curiosity, promoteth ease and liberty, supporteth honor and dignity, procureth power, dependencies, and friendships, rendereth a man somebody considerable in the world; in fine, enableth to do good, or to perform works of beneficence and charity. Profit is therefore so much affected
* Prima fere vota, et cunctis notissima templis,
Divitiæ ut crescant, &c.—Juv. Sat. x. Omnes ad affectum atque appetitum utilitatis suæ naturæ ipsius magisterio atque impulsione ducuntur.-Saly. ad Eccl. Cath. 2.
and pursued, because it is, or doth seem, apt to procure or promote some good desirable to us.
If therefore a project should be proposed to us very feasible and probable to succeed, in pursuance whereof assuredly we might obtain great profit; methinks in consistence with ourselves, and conformably to our usual manner of acting, we should be very ready to embrace and execute it. Such a project it is which in my text, by a very trusty voucher and skilful judge of such things, and one who had himself fully experimented it, is proposed : which in itself is very practicable, so that any of us may, if we have a mind to it and will be at the pains, throughly compass and carry it on; which will exceedingly turn to account, and bring in gains unto us unspeakably vast; in comparison whereto all other designs which men with so much care and toil do pursue, are very unprofitable or detrimental, yielding but shadows of profit, or bringing real damage to us.
It is briefly this, to be religious or pious; that is, in our minds stedfastly to believe on God (such as nature in some measure, and revelation more clearly, declareth him,) in our hearts earnestly to love and reverence him, through all our practice sincerely and diligently to observe his laws. This is it which St. Paul affirmeth to be profitable for all things, and which it is my intent, by God's help, to recommend unto you as such; demonstrating it really to be so, by representing some of those numberless benefits and advantages which accrue from it, extending to all conditions and capacities of men, to all states, all seasons, and in effect to all affairs of life.
It hath been ever a main obstruction to the practice of piety, that it hath been taken for no friend, or rather for an enemy to profit; as both unprofitable and prejudicial to its followers : and many semblances there are countepancing that opinion. For religion seemeth to smother or to slacken the industry and alacrity of men in following profit many ways : by charging them to be content with a little, and careful for nothing; by diverting their affections and cares from worldly affairs to matters of another nature, place, and time, prescribing in the first place to seek things spiritual, heavenly, and future ; by disparaging all secular wealth, as a thing, in comparison to virtue and spiritual goods, very mean and inconsiderable; by check
ing greedy desires and aspiring thoughts after it; by debarring the most ready ways of getting it, (violence, exaction, fraud, and flattery,) yea, straitening the best ways, eager care and diligence; by commending strict justice in all cases, and always taking part with conscience when it clasheth with interest ; by paring away the largest uses of wealth, in the prohibition of its free enjoyment to pride or pleasure; by injoining liberal communication thereof in ways of charity and mercy ; by engaging men to expose their goods sometimes to imminent hazard, sometimes to certain loss ; obliging them to forsake all things, and to embrace poverty for its sake.
It favoreth this conceit to observe that often bad men by impious courses do appear to thrive and prosper ; while good men seem for their goodness to suffer, or to be nowise visibly better for it, enduring much hardship and distress.
It furthereth the prejudice that some persons void of true piety or imperfectly good, (some dabblers in religion,) do not from their lame, slight, and superficial performances, feel satisfactory returns, such as they did presume to find; and thence, to the defamation of piety, are apt to say with those men in the prophet, · It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? Yea, that sometimes very pious men, being out of humor and somewhat discomposed by the urgent pressures of affliction, the disappointments and crosses incident to all men here in this region of trouble, are apt to complain and express themselves dissatisfied, saying with Job, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God. What advantage will it be unto me, and what profit shall I have if I be cleansed from my sin ?? or with David, • Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency: for all the day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning.'
To these considerations, disadvantageous in this respect to piety, may be added, that the constant and certain profits emergent from it (although incomparably more substantial, and to the mind more sensible than any other) are not yet so gross and palpable, that men, who from being immersed in earth and flesh are blind in error, dull of apprehension, vain and inconsi
derate in their judgments, tainted and vitiated in their palates, can discern their worth, or relish their sweetness. Hence it is that so many follow the judgment and practice of those in Job, 'who say unto God, depart from us; for we desire not the knowlege of thy ways. What is the Almighty that we should serve him ? and what profit should we have if we pray unto him ?'
For voiding which prejudices, and the recommendation of St. Paul's project, I shall, as I said, propose some of those innumerable advantages, by considering which the immense profitableness of piety will appear. And first I shall mention those considerations, which more plainly do import univerşality; then shall touch some benefits thereof, seeming more particular, yet in effect vastly large, and of a very diffusive influence.
I. First then, we may consider that piety is exceeding useful for all sorts of men, in all capacities, all states, all relations; fitting and disposing them to manage all their respective concernments, to discharge all their peculiar duties, in a proper, just, and decent manner.
It rendereth all superiors equal and moderate in their administrations ; mild, courteous, and affable in their converse; benign and condescensive in all their demeanor toward their inferiors.
Correspondently it disposeth inferiors to be sincere and faithful, modest, loving, respectful, diligent, apt willingly to yield due subjection and service.
It inclineth princes to be just, gentle, benign, careful for their subjects' good, apt to administer justice uprightly, to protect right, to encourage virtue, to check wickedness.
Answerably it rendereth subjects loyal, submissive, obedient, quiet, and peaceable, ready to yield due honor, to pay the tributes and bear the burdens imposed, to diseharge all duties, and observe all laws prescribed by their governors, conscionably, patiently, cheerfully, without reluctancy, grudging, or murmuring.
It maketh parents loving, gentle, provident for their children's good education and comfortable subsistence; children ágain, dutiful, respectful, grateful, apt to requite their parents.
Husbands from it become affectionate and compliant to their wives; wives submissive and obedient to their husbands.
It disposeth friends to be friends indeed, full of cordial affec. tion and good-will, intirely faithful, firmly constant, industriously careful and active in performing all good oflices mutually.
It engageth men to be diligent in their calling, faithful to their trusts, contented and peaceable in their station, and thereby serviceable to the public good.
It rendereth all men just and punctual in their dealing, orderly and quiet in their behavior, courteous and complaisant in their conversation, friendly and charitable on all occasions, apt to assist, to relieve, to comfort one another.
It tieth all relations more fastly and strongly, assureth and augmenteth all endearments, enforceth and establisheth all obli. gations by the firm bands of conscience ; set aside which no engagement can hold sure against temptations of interest or pleasure. Much difference there is between performing these duties out of natural temper, fear of punishment, hope of temporal reward, selfish design, regard to credit, or other the like principles, and the discharging them out of religious conscience: this alone will keep men tight, uniform, resolute, and stable ; whereas all other principles are loose and slippery, will soon be shaken and falter.
In consequence to those practices springing from it, piety removeth oppression, violence, faction, disorders, and murmurings, out of the state ; schisms and scandals out of the church; pride and haughtiness, sloth and luxury, detraction and sycophantry, out of the court; corruption and partiality out of judicatures; clamors and tumults out of the street; brawlings, grudges, and jealousies out of families; extortion and cozenage out of trade; strifes, emulations, slanderous backbitings, bitter and foul language out of conversation ; in all places, in all societies it produceth, it advanceth, it establisheth, order, peace, safety, prosperity, all that is good, all that is lovely or handsome, all that is convenient or pleasant for human society, and common life. It is that which, as the wise man saith, exalteth a nation ;' it is that which establisheth a throne.'
It is indeed the best prop and guard that can be of govern