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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 ftill Before
II. Secondly Therefore; So Graciously hath God Provided for the Temporal Ad-, vantages of his servants, that, according to the Natural state of Things which he hath Determind, 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 Effects 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 and Irregular, Unjust and Unequal Chance, but to the Wise Decree and Appointment of the mos High, that Temperance contributes to the Continuance of Health and Life; or, that the band of the Diligent maketh rich; or, that the Faithful Exercises and Improvements of those 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 those Sages, who, representing it as Efficacious and Fruitful of its own Rewards, are very Large in their Accounts of those Internal Treasures of Peace and Satisfaction, which it bestows upon the Mind, scarce Mentioning or Regarding its External Acquirements, on which the Necessaries, the Conveniencies, and
the Ornaments of Life do greatly depend. Each of the Sundry Fruits of Virtue Deservedly Challengeth our Regard, and should Excite us to Adore the Riches of His Goodness, who hath thus Impregnated our Duty with Comfort and Delight.
A man Armed with Virtue and Religion can stand Firm and Immoveable, whilst the most Violent and raging Waves of Misfortune Dash against him: His Strength is equal to the Heaviest Affli&tion, and he Bravely Repels, or Cheerfully Receives the Keenest Arrows that are Leveld at him, till his Soul, which Nothing could Crush, or Conquer upon Earth, takes its Triumphant Flight into Heaven. This mighty Prowess of Virtue, One of the Noblest Gifts of God, ought to be a Principal Subject of our Thoughts and Thanksgivings. But, Difficulties and Distress not being Eligible, we have reason to Rejoyce, that the Best means of Supporting us under them, are likewise the Best means of Preserving us from Them. For Virtue, in its own Native state, is so Attractive of Exter
nal Advantages, that it can scarce fail of Drawing them Effectually after it, unless they should, in their Motion, meet with an Interruption, or Impediment, from that Sovereign Hand, by which this Glorious Law of Attraction was given. Varieties of Temporal Blessings are in the Possession and Disposal of true Wisdom; And she does Usually and Eafily, where no Extraordinary Providence Intervenes, Defend, Preserve, and Adorn the Mansions of her own Abode. And how Little reason Good men have to apprehend, that the Streams of Providence shall run in Opposition to them, will appear if we consider
III. Thirdly, that Abstracting from the natural Tendency of Things, God does frequently, by his Special Providence, vouchsafe to his Faithful Servants, the Advantages mention d in the Text; And such Advantages, when placed in the hands of Good men, may be Properly accounted Blessings. And under this Head, Each of the Advantages mention'd in the Text should be Distinctly consider’d. The
1. First of them is Length of Days. And sometimes God is pleased, by an Extraordinary Dispensation, to multiply those Years, which, in his Ordinary course of Providence, are allotted to a Good man’s Life. Thus were fifteen years, by the Divine favour and Indulgence, added to the Life of Hezekiah, even after the Prophet had brought this Moving message from Heaven to him; * thus faith the Lord, set thine house in order, for thou Shalt die, and not live:
Sometimes God is pleased to Prolong Good men's Lives, by proper Acts of Deliverance from those External dangers, which would, Otherwise, prove Fatal to them. Thus was St. Paul deliver'd from the Conspiracy laid against him by the Jews; And a more remarkable Providence frustrated an Attempt made upon the Life of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan; who was no less Famous for his Works of Piety and Charity, than he was for his Noble Extraction.
* 2 Kings. xx. 1.