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junctions of Men ? And why not therefore those of God ? Be the Labour ever so great ; still, both in the Nature of the Thing, and by the Appointment of Heaven, no one can become happy, that doth not become good : and no one is truly good, who purposely or negligently lives in the Omission of any Duty, or Commission of any Sin. Difficulty is a Reason for nothing, but exerting ourselves, and applying to God for Help : which whoever doth in earnest, will find Opposition serve only to strengthen his Christian Graces by Exercise here, and augment the Reward of them for ever hereafter.
IV.We must observe those Commands, which relate to the Government of ourselves, no less than those which respect our Fellow-Crea
Men are strangely apt to run into Extremes in this particular. Some, on the Merit of their Abstinence from unlawful Pleasures, venture without Scruple to be ill-humoured, hard-hearted, cenforious, and unjust; while some again place the whole of a right Character in a gay Kind of good Nature : and, either hurting, as they pretend, Nobody but themselves; or, however doing others only such Injuries, as they imagine Matter of Merriment; go
almost whatever Lengths of sensual Gratification their Desires prompt them to. Now these latter, far from being the harmless People, which they would have the World think them, usually contribute more, by the unavoidable, and often foreseen, Consequences of their Vices, and the Contagion of their Examples, to bring Misery into private Life, and Distress, if not Ruin, upon the Public, than
icked Persons, that can be mentioned besides. But were they, in these Respects, ever so innocent : yet our being rational Creatures, as indispensably binds us to Sobriety, Chastity, and Decency, as our being social Creatures doth to Inoffensiveness and Beneficence. A Mind immersed in Voluptuousness, nay filled with Amusements and Trifles, and attentive to them only or chiefly, is by no Means in a moral State, and much lefs in a religious one. Our evident Capacity and Formation for higher and better Things, cannot but carry with it a proportionable Obligation, to the Improvement of our Understandings in the Knowledge of Truth, and of our Hearts in the Efteem of Virtue ; to the Care of acting worthily and usefully amongst our Fellow-Creatures, and qualifying ourselves for
spiritual Happiness with our Creator. Thus much even the Light of Nature will teach us. And if Revelation be consulted; there we shall find the strongest Cautions, against that Fondness for sumptuous Living, Delicacy, and Splendor, which brought the rich Man into the Place of Torment"; against being Lovers of Pleafures, more than Lovers of God i. Scriptures, like these, are not designed to drive Persons into unnatural Rigours and Austerities : but they are designed to restrain them from that Habit and Study of Self-Indulgence, which being attended perhaps with the Commission of no flagrant Sins, looks to be an allowable Way of consuming Time ; but indeed brings poor Wretches, often by quick Degrees, to intire Forgetfulness of God and themselves, and extinguishes all Attention to what deserves it most. This Lethargy of the Mind is the great Danger of a State of Prosperity and Affluence: which therefore, as many as are placed in that State, should continually watch against, as being totally contrary to a Spirit of Religion ; and remember, that whoever fo liveth in Pleafure, as to live to it, is dead while he liveth k: Luke xvi. 19, &c.
i 2 Tim. iii, 4.
dead to all the Purposes of Christianity here, and all the Hopes of Felicity hereafter.
V. Our Saviour's Direction, that all Nations be taught to observe every thing which he bath commanded, implies a Prohibition of teaching any thing in his Name, which he hath not commanded, either personally while on Earth, or by the holy Spirit of Truth after his Ascenfion. For where his Commission ends, there the Powers of those, to whom he gave it, end also. Still, in Matters left undetermined, or not fully determined by him, Men of Knowledge may fignify their Opinion, Men of Prudence may suggest their Advice, and both are to be regarded in a proper Degree. Superiors may likewise interpose their Authority, fo far as public Order and Peace require; and, in all Things lawful, others are bound to submit to them. But no Man, or Number of Men, may presume to set up their own Judgement, or their own Will, for a Law of Christ: or add a single Article, as a necessary one, to that Rule of Faith and Practice, which was once delivered anto the Saints'. Even St. Paul himself hath on one Occafion accurately distinguished be* Jude v. 3.
tween what he, and what the Lord in Person, spoke "; between Points in which he had an express Commandment, and Points in which he
gave his Judgement, as one that had obtained Mercy to be faithful": that is, in the Trust of the Apostlefhip. And if fuch a Person was thus careful, much more ought the Ministers of Religion in these later Ages, who can have no certain Acquaintance with it, but from his Writings and the rest of Scripture, be folicitous not to preach any other Gospel, than that they have receivedo; nor build, on the Foundation of Jesus Chrift, Superstructures that will not abide the Trial P, teaching for Doctrines the Commandments of Men ? They, who assume this Power, usurp a Dominion over their Fellow-Servants, to which only their Master in Heaven hath a Right : and they who obey this Power, so far worship God in vain, who hath never required this at their Hands".
I have now gone through the second Part of the Text: the Duties, which the Apostles and their Successors were to enjoin. And therefore I proceed to set before you,
III. The Protection and Happiness, of which