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for the supply of all his wants.* All which performances yield both unconceivable benefit and unexpressible comfort. So that solitude (that which is to common nature so offensive, to corrupt nature so abominable) is to the pious man extremely commodious and comfortable; which is a great advantage peculiar to piety, and the last which I shall mention. So many,
and many more than I can express, vastly great and precious advantages do accrue from piety; so that well may we conclude with St. Paul, that 'godliness is profitable for all things.' It remaineth that, if we be wise, we should, if
we yet have it not ingrafted in us, labor to acquire it; if we have it, that we should endeavor to improve it, by constant exercise, to the praise of God, the good of our neighbor, and our own comfort. Which that we may effectually perform, Almighty God in mercy vouchsafe, by his grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom for ever be all glory and praise. Amen.
• Acquiescit sibi, cogitationibus suis traditus.-Sen. Ep. 9.
Sapiens nunquam solus esse potest, habet secum omnes qui sunt, quique unquam fuerunt boni; et animum liberum quocunque vult transfert: quod corpore non potest, cogitatione complectitur; et si hominum inops fuerit, loquitur cum Deo. Nunquam minus solus erit, quam cum solus fuerit.-Hier. adv. Jovin, i. 28.
SUMMARY OF SERMON IV.
1 SAMUEL, CHAP. II.-VERSE 30.
The words of the text were uttered immediately by God himself, and therefore may well command our attention. They plainly imply two things; a duty required of us, to honor God; and a reward proferred to us on the performance of that duty, being honored by God. The method of this discourse is, first, to estimate the reward, then to explain the duty ; afterwards to show briefly why in reason the duty is injoined; how in effect the reward is conferred.
I. The reward may be considered either absolutely, as to what it is in itself; or relatively, as to its rise, and whence it
1. For itself, it is honor; a thing, if valued according to the rate it commonly bears, of highest price among all the objects of human desire, the chief reward unto which the greatest and best actions pretend : this point enlarged on : reasons given why honor is in such request and of such force. The appetite for it shown to be rooted in our very nature: examples of this ambition in eminent men. A moderate regard for honor shown even to be commendable, as an instance of good-will towards others, and an argument of humility as it concerns ourselves. The authority also of the more cool and candid sort of philosophers alleged for its commendation, inasmuch as they have ranked honor among the principal of things desirable, and adorned it with fairest eulogies. But beyond all this, the holy Scripture, that most certain standard by which we may examine and determine the true worth of things, does not teach us to
slight honor, but rather in its fit order and just measure to love and prize it: this is not only shown to be the case in temporal affairs, but the blessed state hereafter is represented and recommended to us as a state of honor and glory; to be ambitious of which is the character of a good man : Rom. ii. 6.7. Such is the precious reward proposed to us in itself: to obtain this reward our text prescribes to us the certain and the only way.
2. Such a benefit is here tendered to us (which yet more highly enhances its worth) by God himself: I, saith he, will honor: he who is the prime author of all good, is in especial manner the sovereign dispenser of honor. The king, we say, is the fountain of honor. What any king, as the representative and delegate of God, is in his particular kingdom, that is the Almighty absolutely and independently in all the world : the excellence and surety of his grants enlarged on. Consideration of what it is which is here required of us, or wherein this honoring of God consists, that we may thereby discern when we perform this duty, and when we are deficient therein.
II. There are several ways of honoring God, or several parts and degrees of this duty; all of which may be referred to two sorts, according to a distinction suggested by St. Paul, 1 Cor. vi. 20.: one of them being, as it were, the form and soul, the other the matter and body of the duty.
1. The soul of that honor which is required of us towards God, is the internal esteem and reverence which we should bear in our hearts for him ; signifying that we have impressed on our minds such conceptions about him as are suitable to the perfection of his nature, to the eminency of his state, to the just qua lity of his works and actions; that we apprehend him to be, what he really is, in his nature superlatively good, wise, powerful, and just : this point enlarged on.
2. The bodily part consists in outward expressions and performances, whereby we declare our esteem and reverence of God, and produce or promote the like in others. This viewed first in
THE REWARD OF HONORING GOD.
I SAMUEL, CHAP. II.-VERSE 30.
For them that honor me I will honor.
The words are in the strictest sense the word of God, uttered immediately by God himself; and may thence command from us an especial attention and regard. The history of that which occasioned them is, I presume, well known; neither shall I make
descant or reflexion thereon; but to take the words separately, as a proposition of itself, affording a complete instruction and ample matter of discourse. And as such, they plainly imply two things : a duty required of us to honor God; and a reward proffered to us on performance of that duty, being honored by God. It is natural for us, before we are willing to undertake any work, to consider the reward or benefit accruing from it; and it is necessary, before we can perform any duty, to understand the nature thereof. To this our method of action I shall suit the method of my discourse; first endeavoring to estimate the reward, then to explain the duty. Afterward I mean to show briefly why in reason the duty is enjoined; how in effect the reward is conferred.
I. The reward may be considered either absolutely, as what it is in itself; or relatively, as to its rise, and whence it comes.
1. For itself, it is honor; a thing, if valued according to the rate it bears in the common market, of highest price among all the objects of human desire; the chief reward which the
greatest actions and which the best actions do pretend unto or are capable of; that which usually bears most sway in the hearts, and hath strongest influence on the lives of men; the desire of obtaining and maintaining which doth commonly overbear other most potent inclinations. The love of pleasure stoops thereto: for men, to get or keep reputation, will decline the most pleasant enjoyments, will embrace the hardest pains. Yea, it often prevails over the love of life itself, which men do not only frequently expose to danger, but sometimes devote to certain loss, for its sake. If we observe what is done in the world, we may discern it to be the source of most undertakings therein: that it not only moveth the wheels of public action, (that not only for it great princes contend, great armies march, great battles are fought;) but that from it most private business derives its life and vigor: that for honor especially the soldier undergoes hardship, toil, and hazard; the scholar plods and beats his brains; the merchant runs about so busily, and adventures so far; yea, that for its sake the meanest laborer and artificer doth spend his sweat and stretch his sinews. The principal drift of all this care and industry (the great reason of all this scuffling for power, this searching for knowlege, this scraping and scrambling for wealth) doth seem to be, that men would live in some credit, would raise themselves above contempt.*
In such request, of such force, doth honor appear to be. If we examine why, we may find more than mere fashion (or mu
* *Ιδοις δ' αν και των ιδιωτών τους επιεικεστάτους, υπέρ άλλου μεν ουδενός αν το ζην αντικαταλλαξαμένους» υπέρ δε του τυχεϊν καλής δόξης, αποθνήσκειν έθέAovras.- Isocr. Orat. ad Philip.
Mors tum æquissimo animo appetitur, cum suis se laudibus vita occidens consolari potest.-Cic. i. Tusc.
- Laudis avidi pecuniæ liberales erant, gloriam ingentem divitias honestas volebant; hanc ardentissime dilexerunt, propter hanc vivere voluerunt, pro hac et mori non dubitaverunt. Cæteras cupiditates hujus unius ingenti cupiditate presserunt.-Aug. de Civ. Dei, v. 12.
Αι γάρ δυναστείαι και ο πλούτος δια την τιμήν έστιν αιρετά.--Arist. Eth. iv. 3.
Honos alit artes, omnesque incenduntur ad studia gloria, &c.-Cic. Tusc. Quæst. 1.