صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

is not in express terms proposed as a reward, or a result of piety.

In general it is declared that blessings are on the head of the just;' that no good thing God will withhold from them that walk uprightly;' that whatever otherwise doth fall out, it • assuredly shall be well with them that fear God;' that blessed is every one that feareth the Lord, that walketh in his ways:'

happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee;' that 'there shall no evil happen to the just;' tható all things work together for good to them that love God.'

Particularly there are promised to the pious man,

A supply of all wants.--- The Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish.' "The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul.' • There is no want to them that fear God.' • The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger; but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.'

A protection in all dangers. The eye of the Lord is on them that fear him, on them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.' • There shall no evil befal thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling: he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.'

Guidance in all his undertakings and proceedings.—- The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.' • None of his steps shall slide. In all thy ways acknowlege him, and he shall direct thy paths.'

Success and prosperity in his designs.—Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.' • Whatsoever he doeth, it shall prosper.'

• Thou shalt decree a thing, and it shall be established ; and the light shall shine on thy ways.' • The Lord shall command a blessing on thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thy hand unto.' • Thine expectation shall not be cut off.'

Comfortable enjoying the fruits of his industry. Thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands.'

Satisfaction of all reasonable desires. The desire of the righteous shall be granted.' Delight thyself in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.' • He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he will hear their


and will save them.'

[ocr errors]

Firm peace and quiet.— The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness, and assurance for ever.' • Great peace have they which love thy law. The fruit of righteousness is sowed in peace.'

Joy and alacrity.—Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.' • In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare : but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.'

Support and comfort in afflictions. • He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.' · Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.'

Deliverance from trouble. - Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.'

· He keepeth all his bones, not one of them is broken,'

Preservation and recovery from mishaps, or miscarriages.Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down : for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.'

Preferment of all sorts, to honor and dignity, to wealth and prosperity. Wait on the Lord, and keep his way; and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land. By humility and fear of the Lord, are riches and honor.' • Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord—wealth and riches are in his house.' * The upright shall have good things in possession. If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasure.' The tabernacle of the righteous shall florish.'

Long life.— The fear of the Lòrd prolongeth days. “By me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. Let thine heart keep my commandments : for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add unto thee.'

A good name enduring after death.-— The memory of the just is blessed.'

Blessings entailed on posterity.— His seed shall be mighty on earth : the generation of the upright shall be blessed.' • The root of the righteous shall not be moved.'

Thus is a liberal dispensation even of temporal goods annexed by God's infallible word unto the practice of piety. It is in

deed more frequently, abundantly, and explicitly promised unto God's ancient people, as being a conditional ingredient of the covenant made with them, exhibited in that as a recompense of their external performance of religious works prescribed in their law. The gospel doth not so clearly propound it, or so much insist on it as not principally belonging to the evangelical covenant, the which, in reward to the performance of its conditions by us, peculiarly doth offer blessings spiritual, and relating to the future state; as also scarce deserving to be mentioned in comparison to those superior blessings. Yet as the celestial benefits, although not openly tendered in the Jewish law, were yet mystically couched therein, and closely designed for the spiritual and hearty practisers of religion; so is the collation of temporal accommodations to be understood to belong to all pious Christians : there is a codicil, as it were, annexed to the New Testament, in which God signifieth his intention to furnish his children with all that is needful or convenient for them. His providence hath not ceased to watch over us, his bounty doth not fail toward us even in this respect; his care will not be wanting to feed us and clothe us comfortably, to protect us from evil, to prosper our good undertakings. Hence doth he command us to care for nothing, but' to cast our care ‘on him, to recommend our business to him, because he careth for us;' • he will never forsake us ;?. he will hear our prayers, and help

Hence we are injoined not to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.' Hence it is said that “the divine power hath given us all things pertaining unto life and godliness, through the knowlege of him that hath called us to glory and virtue. Hence it is promised by our Lord, that, ' if we seek first the kingdom of God, all things shall be added to us.' Hence it is inferred, as consequential to the nature of the evangelical dispensation, that we cannot want any good thing; · He,' saith St. Paul, that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ? In fine, hence it is proposed as notorious, that nothing is permitted to fall out otherwise than as conduceth to our good. know,' saith St. Paul, that all things work together for good unto those that love God:' nor will God,' in any case,“ suffer


. We

us to be tempted,' by any want or pressure, ' beyond what we are able to bear.' Thus is piety evidently profitable, as “ having the promises of this life,' or exhibiting all temporal blessings desirable to the practisers thereof.

But infinitely more profitable it is, as having the promises of the future life,' or as procuring a title to those incomparably more excellent blessings of the other world; those • indefectible treasures,' that incorruptible, undefiled, and never-fading inheritance, reserved in heaven for us ;' that exceeding weight of glory;' those ineffable joys of paradise ;' that lightsome countenance and beatifying presence of God; that unconceivably and unexpressibly joyful, glorious, perfect, and endless bliss; briefly, all that is comprised and intimated in those words of the Apostle, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.' Infinitely profitable surely must that be, which procureth those things for us : and in these respects great reason had St. Paul to say that “godliness is profitable for all things.'

But farther, to evidence and recommend this point, I might propound certain peculiar advantages arising from piety, which have a very general influence on our lives, and do afford unto them exceeding benefit : but this I must, in regard to the time and your patience, at present forbear.



Some other considerations proposed, which serve to recommend more particularly the assertion of St. Paul, declaring the great profitableness of religion.

I. We may consider that religion prescribes the truest and best rules of action, enlightening our minds and rectifying our practice on all occasions, &c. Of all things in the world there is nothing more generally profitable than light: its benefits described. The like benefits does religion, which is the light of the soul, yield to it: this point enlarged on.

Propriety of acting regularly, uniformly, and consistently, displayed. Evils which beset an untractable profane man who has no bridle of conscience to guide or check him, described : advantages which attend the pious man, who is steadily governed by conscience, and has a regard to certain principles.

What law and government are to the public, that is piety to each man's private state, and to ordinary conversation : it frees a man's own life from disorder, and prompts men to behave themselves towards each other with security and confidence.

And the advantage appears greater, if we consider that the rules which it prescribes for this purpose are the best that can be; inasmuch as they proceed from infallible wisdom and immense goodness : the beauty and utility of these rules enlarged on. The advantages accruing to a person who adheres to these rules described : the evils which beset him who neglects them. In short, the precepts of religion are no other than such as physicians would prescribe for the health of the

« السابقةمتابعة »