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Heaven: By aficting us in this World, preparest a Place for us, where we shall for evermore be freed from all manner of Afictions !
But we may make a farther Use of these Things, we may observe how hard a Venture they run who prostitute their Conscience to their Interest; and venture on Sin to get the Favour of those in Authority. How soon are they with their Protectors cast down, and made the Scorn and the Laughter of their Neighbours ? and how miserable must they needs be, who have an accusing Conscience within, and nothing without to give them any Support, or Relief? when as he that in all Times acts according to the Dictates of Reason, and is always true to his well fettled Principles; if Affairs change, and he happen to be in Adversity, he is esteem'd and honour'd by all sober Men: And however, he has that within which is a sovereign Cordial against all the Mischiefs he may fall into: And can with an humble Assurance look up to Heaven, and folace himself in the Favour of God, and the Hopes of a blessed Immortality: He can, as Horace says, Sua virtute se involvere ; and be as safe and happy with the Defence of a good Conscience, as if he had Walls of Brass encompassing him. the divine Providence to prosper and exalt him in the World, he is thankful, humble, and takes care to make use of his Place, and Power, for Gods Glory, and the Benefit of Mankind. But if the same Providence deprives him of all his Honours and Preferments, he knows 'tis because it will reward him Sevenfold hereafter, and he is satisfied and
If it please
contented; being assur'd, if his gracious Father had seen it best for him to have been still a Courtier, or great, he should so have remain'd still: And he is not so foolish as to wish for what he believes would have been to his own Harm and Detriment, at the Upshot: But heartily joins with that Petition in the Lord's Prayer, Thy Will be done. But as to the Actors in this great Change, whether they can justify themselves before that God, who trieth the Heart, and searcheth the Reins; must be left to the Determination of the great Day, where no cunning Shifts, and Pretences of Piety, will pass for a fufficient Excuse for Rebellion, and Disobedience to lawful Magistrates. Or whether it be lawful to comply with these Things, and swear Allegiance to a new King, the other claiming his Right, 'tis not very easy to determine, [ but more about this see, in my Paper call'd The Lawfulness of the new Oatb of Allegiance soberly discuss’d. ]
Shew me thy Way, O Lord, and teach me thy Paths. Make thy Way plain before my Face, that I may always have a Conscience void of Offence, towards God, and towards Men. Amen.
May 12, 1689. VI. A Lamentation of the Decay of true Piety,
and Practical Christianity, HERE needs nothing but a right Sense of T
Religion, following from a true Notion of it, to make us sorely bewail its Decay and Difesteem in the World. When a Man seriously considers the Excellency, Nobleness, Necessity, Usefulness, and Pleasantness of Religion ; its Fitness to Man in
Relation and Condition of Life; the Peace and Quiet of every particular Soul, and of human Societies and Constitutions, which it aims at; the Greatness of its Object, even the one Eternal Majesty of Heaven and Earth, the Immensity of its Rewards in another World, and withall takes a View of human Nature, its Faculties, and Desires, its Capacities, and Endowments, exactly fitted and adapted to Religion; as Religion in the Reverse is exactly calculated to supply the Wants, remedy the Evils, enlarge the Powers, raise the Mind, erect the Hopes, and finally perfect and compleat Mankind: And at the same time fees how little it is heeded, how vilely it is abused, how it is proftituted to every unworthy Purpose, and now so intolerably spoil'd and corrupted in its practical Part, which is the main Aim and Scope of it, that one may
cry out, Away with it out of the World, let it divide no more Minds, destroy no more Kingdoms, butcher no more Innocents, cloak no more Crimes, nay debauch no more Principles any longer: He that shall soberly reflect on these Things together, will be ready to say with the Prophet Jeremiah, O that my Eyes were Waters, and my Head a Fountain of Tears, that I might lament, Day and Night, the miserable State and Condition of the Generality of Mankind! that I might bewail the Madness, Folly, and. Stupidity of wretched Men! that there should be such a Price and Opportunity put into the Hands of fuch Fools to get Wisdom, who have no Heart to it! that so precious a Privilege, purchas'd with the Blood of
the Son of God, as the Promises of Religion propose of being Heirs of eternal Felicity, should be so undervalued and rejected by ungrateful Morcals ! that what the Almighty design'd for the perfecting human Nature should be fo deform'd, alter'd, and chang'd, to be instrumental too often to its Bane and Misery! such Considerations as these might well make a Man conclude there were some great Cheat in the Business of Religion ; some mighty Imposition, and Abufe put upon Mankind, and that its Principles were quite of a different Nature from what it is above represented; or else it must be resolved that, by one Means or another, human Nature is strangely distorted, and out of order, thus to convert Meat into Crudicy; Physick into Diseases; and the most sovereign and universal Medicine, into the most pernicious and epidemical Malady. Which last will soon be found to be the real Case of the World, when, (1.) 'tis undeniable to any one reading either the Law of Nature engraven in all Men's Hearts, or the Law reveal'd to the Jewis under dark Representations, and to the Christians in its meridian Splendour in the Holy Records, that the Precepts, Promises, Threatenings, Examples, and Counsels of Religion, are uniformly adapted, and do universally concenter in thofe noble Ends, the Glory and Pleasing of God, in the perfecting and making happy of human Nature, &c. (2.) Tis evident Man's Nature is a capable and proper Subject of Religion ; and that the Ends propos'd by it are attainable : Because de fakto we find in the first Ages of the Church that Religion in a great Measure attain'd its Aim, and rendered the
Christians amiable, and honour'd in the Eyes of the Heathens themselves; whereby Multitudes were every where converted to our most Holy Profession seeing them shew out of a good Conversation, their Works with Meekness of Wisdom; as the Apostle exhorts them. Then was the Power and Excellency of Christianity seen when non magna loquimur, sed vivimus, was the Badge of a Disciple of our Lord; when more Pains was taken in conquering Lufts than Foes; and more fought against their Sins than their Sovereigns ; when Preces and Lachrymæ were the Arms, and Sanguis Martyrum the Seed of the Church militant, upon Earth ; when Christians had a serious Sense of what they profess’d to believe, and durft not be Hypocritical in that Religion for which every Day they expected. to lose their Lives, and all they had in this World. Oh when will that Golden Age again visit the languishing Church of Christ? when will that daily Piety and Devotion ; that strict Justice and Sincerity; that hearty Love and Charity grow warm in these frozen Regions of the World any more? But if it be too much to expect that; yet I may have leave I hope to lament, to desire, to wish and at least to comfort my troubled Mind with the Thoughts that it was once among us on Earth, and will return however in Heaven to thofc that seek it earnestly in this world. O my good God! whither is thy Fear banished! whither is Devotion retir’d? into some warmer Regions of the Earth? No: they are as strange there as here. Whither is Humility, Temperance, Candour, Unity, Content