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Spiritual Welfare, or, are Best adapted to the Exercise of their Peculiar Virtues, but for other Reasons, and to otfier Purposes. For
qthly, The Difficulties and Sufferings of Good men are sometimes Neceflary to the Advancement of God's Glory, And the Glory of God which is the Ultimate End of all Beings, may well be understood and supposed, as an Implicit Condition in all Promises. On account of this Great End it was, that the Apostles, and Other Holy Martyrs Lived in Continual Trouble, and Died in Exquisite Torment. Their Consummate Piety did not want the Harsh Discipline of Sufferings, for it's own Improvement; but their Suffering became the Necessary and Effectual Instruments of Propagating God's Honour, and Man's Salvation. And in Other and Lower Instances, the Submission, the Easiness, and the Cheerfulness, which shine in Good Men, under the Severer Dispensations of Heaven, do greatly Promote God's Honour, and the Interest of Religion: They are Abundant Testimo'* nies SERMON 'VIII. 307
nies, that God is Especially Present and Propitious to his Servants, when they stand most in Need of him: They are an Abundant and Endearing Conviction, that the Spirit of Religion is the Only Spirit of Power, and of Firmness, and of Excellency, which may be Depended on, and will never Fail; In comparison of Which, all the Powers of the World are as that Brittle and Broken Reed, . whereon if Infirm and Afflicted Man shall lean, he will find it so far from Supporting him, that it will Sink under him; and not only So, but will go into his handr and pierce it.
These, and such as These, are the Conditions and Limitations previously Supposed and Implied in the Promises of Temporal Blessings to.Good men; And they may.supply us with these Three Observations, amongst many others;
ifi, That Temporal Inconvenience is far from being a Certain Mark of God's Displeasure, and is, therefore, far from being a Just Reason of entertaining an /// Opinion of those that suffer it, or,
X % even
even of taking up any Suspicions of Iniquity or Unworthiness in them.
idly, That, as Temporal Advantages are Design d, and Proposed to us, only as Inferiour and Subordinate Motives to Religion, so our Rsteem of them should be, Comparatively, very Low, and ver) Little, that our Thoughts and Desires may be the more Clofely and Intirelv fixed upon the principal Object of our Hopes, the Blessings of a Future, and an Endless Life; And
$dly, That these Conditions and Limitations of the Encouragements, in the Text, are in Themselves highly Reasonable and Just; And a Man must throw up all Pretensions to Wisdom and Goodness, before he can Wish or Expect such a Distribution of Temporal Advantages, as would be Inconsistent, either with that variety of Ranks and Orders, under which the Societies of Men are Ranged and Established by Infinite Wisdom; or, with the Eternal Salvation of his own Soul, or, with his own most Successful Progress in the Way of Salvation; or, with God's Honour and the Advancement ment of Religion, or, with any Other of the Wise Ends and Purposes of God's Dispensations. *Tis Sufficient to Good men, that, so far as is Consistent with such Great Things as These, they may properly expect the Blessings in the Text. And the Reasons of such an Expectation will appear from the other Two Heads of Discourse still Before us.
II. Secondly Therefore; So Graciously hath God Provided for the Temporal Advantages of his servants, that, according to the Natural state of Things which he hath Determined, according to the Ordinary course and Tendencies of Human Affairs, the most Proper and Likely means of securing those Advantages, are Virtue and Religion.
'Tis Disingenuous and Ungrateful, 'tis Impious, 'tis a kind of Implicit Atheism, to Ascribe the Happy EffeBs of Virtue to the Nature of Things, without Acknowledging, that the Nature of Things was Design'd, Instituted, and Ordain'd by the Great Maker and Governour of the World. It is not owing to UnX 3 certain. certain and Irregular, Unjust and Unequal Chance, but to the Wise Decree and Appointment of the most High, that Temperance contributes to the Continuance of Health and Life; or, that the hand of the Diligent maketh rich; or, that the Faithful Exercises and Improvements of thofe Excellent Faculties, which Bounteous Nature hath planted in some Men's Minds, are the Wings, whereon they Soar to Reputation and Honour.
Some Virtues have a Peculiar Aptness in them, to produce some Peculiar kinds of Benefit; but they All Agree in the Main Point, They bear their Several Parts in Finishing the Harmony and the Happiness of Life. The Power of Virtue Therefore is contracted and Diminished by thofe Sages, who, representing it as Efficacious and Fruitful of its own Rewards, are very Large in their Accounts of thofe Internal Treasures ofPeace and Satisfaction, which it bestows upon the Mind, scarce Mentioning or Regarding its External Acquirements, on which the Necessaries, the Conveniences, and