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of the Devil: Who hurries such Persons, as by their former evil Lives have banished the good Spirit from them, to such Degrees of Wickedness as otherwise 'tis scarce credible that a reasonable Creature should ever be induced to commit. Yea tho' in the mean while they do profess to believe that they are in that Way where in the End they must expect everlasting Damnation.
But, O gracious Father, thou Lover of Souls, send down thy Holy Spirit, into my Heart, to affift, counsel, comfort, and conduct me fo safely through the Wilderness of this World, that, whatsoever Suggestions the Devil may cast into my Mind, I may abhor and cast them out again, without the least Defilement by them; and at last may by that Holy Spirit's Guidance and Affistance be brought safe to the Vision of Peace, through Jesus Chrift, Amen.
March 27, 1687, being EASTER-DAY. IV. Of the Reasonableness of Religion. HEN the Ends and Designs of true Reli
gion ; (such as are the Glory of God, and the Happiness of Man, in raising those noble Faculties of his Soul to the highest Pitch, and most worthy Objects, and even in this World the Peace and Prosperity of all human Societies; and as well the Welfare of the World in general, as of each Person in particular ;) are so apparently excellent and reasonable ; and the Ways and Means it prescribes so conducive and proper to the Attainment of the forementioned Ends; it must needs follow that Religi.
on is really reasonable in itself, and every way worthy of human Nature ; and-altho' it should lay more Restraint upon the Affections and Actions of Men, than indeed it doth, they might well be borne, inConfideration of those greater Benefits and Advantages which it produces. But wherein lies this Hardness, and what are the Restraints which are so burthensome, that Religion must be thought unreasonably severe in imposing them on us? Is it in that Temperance, Sobriety, Chastity, and Diligence, it injoins ? the contrary Vices bring such real Disadvantages not seldom in this World, that might more reasonably deter a prudent Man from them, tho' they were forbidden by no Law; so that here is apparently not only no just Cause of rejecting, but very just Cause of embracing Religion, which proposes so noble a Reward to the Exercise of thoseVirtues, which a Man would think were sufficiently rewarded by the Blessings they procure in this Life. Is it unreasonable for a Creature to love, worship, fear, trust, serve, and obey his great and good Creator? why then is it not thought as unreasonable for a Child to perform the like in a lower Degree to his Parents ? or why do Parents require and think it fitting that their Offspring should be obedient to 'em when it very much crosses their Inclination ? when we all have a more immediate Dependence on God, than a Child on his Parent. Sure this Unreasonableness cannot be charged on the Duties of Justice and Charity: Without which indeed all Societies would be in miserable Circumstances, and which, if followed, would render Man's Life far more easy and com
fortable than 'tis like to be, while Men are so careless in performing the Duties relating to one another. . Where then is it? in those Self-denials, and Bearing the Cross; in those Perfecutions, Troubles, and Difficulties, that Religion sometimes exposes Men to? Well, suppose these Things do fall to the Portion of good Men: Yet, for Answer, I ask, are they the only miserable? do no Calamities light on the rest of the World ? is there no Hardness and Difficulty in conquering the Reason and stopping the Mouth of the Consciences of the Profane and Wicked, before they can get leave of themselves to follow such Courses as they cannot but disallow? is there no Torment in an accusing, stinging, and condemning Conscience ? no Crosses and Troubles in the Way to Destruction ? is all so smooth and easy, so plain and safe, free and undisturbed, that no Troubles or Alictions can poflibly reach or affect them ? nothing less. Nay, I think that it may be questioned whether the Life of wicked Persons, all things considered, be not the harder and fuller of Difficulties, excepting only some particular Times of Persecution, when God calls Men to lay down their Lives for his Sake. How often does one Vice contradict another ? what Quarrels and Contentions do arise among Copartners? what Fears of the Detection of secret Crimes? what Horror of Death, and future Account, what Poverty, Disgrace, Sickness, and a thousand Inconveniences do they often bring upon themselves, and however a perpetual Guilt dogging and accompanying them wheresoever they go, which will return again with
the greater Horror by how much the more they shall have drowned the Sense of it in Debauchery and Drinking. Nay farther, I suppose, that Intemperance, Luxury, Quarrelling, and other Vices have brought innumerable more to an untimely Death then ever Religion did : So little Reason Men have to complain of the Hardness of the Way to Heaven, when they take such Pains to go through with that Course which in the End will requite them with eternal Misery.
Never let me, O Lord, perform that Drudgery, the Wages whereof is eternal Death, only to escape fome Difficulties and Hardships in that Way which leads to eternal Bliss! through Jesus Christ.
May 5, 1689.
Posture of Affairs in England, &c.
his Reft here below, and is not sufficiently convinced of the Vanity and Uncertainty of all worldly Goods ; let him but seriously within his own Breast reflect on these late great and aftonishing Mutations, and he need go no further for a convincing Evidence of what he is so unwilling to believe, viz. That it is the greatest Folly imaginable lo lay up Treasure, or place any Confidence in this frail, mortal, and more than unconstant State, and Vale of Tears. The divine Providence seems in all Ages to have given Instances sufficient to all Mankind, to deter them from doating on earthly Goods, from depending on Princes Favours, or thinking themselves secure in
the most prosperous Times, thereby to prepare their Minds the better to attend the Motions of his Holy Spirit, and the constant Suggestions of the Law of Nature written in their Hearts.
For while we think we are secure, and likely to enjoy innumerable Days of Ease, Honour, and Satisfaction, we put the Thoughts of Death, Judgment, and Eternity out of our Minds; and we are apt to think we are so well provided for already, that we are in no Need of looking out for another Mansion, when our Bodies are laid in the Dust, and our Souls Aed to another Region. We seldom care fo to number our Days as to apply our Hearts to Wisdom, and the Fear of God, while we are on every Side encompassed with Friends, treated with Respect and Observance, and caress'd by the pleasing Smiles of Fortune ; but when an adverse Gale shall stop us in our Career, and when the Almighty by his Providence takes from us all the Props and Confidences wherein we trusted, and reduces us to Straits and Difficulties, then we are at Leisure, and can freely look upwards to our Maker ; then we are willing to entertain Thoughts of God and Religion, and can be content, seeing this World either gone or going, to look after a more durable Felicity hereafter : And when we feel all our worldly Holds to fail and deceive us, we erect our Eyes and Hopes towards Kingdom that cannot be moved; which no Ill-will «f a Prince can deprive us of; nor any Alteration of Government eject us from. Good God! how adorable are thy Dispensations, who by denying us Earth givest us