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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 TArtue 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 As fliBion, and he Bravely Repels, or Cheerfully Receives the Keenest Arrows that are Level'd 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
X 4 nal 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 Easily, 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 Speciat'Providence', vouch-safe to his Faithful Servants^ the Advantages mentiond 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 thofe Years, which, in his Ordinary course of Providence, are allotted to a Good man's Life. Thus were fifteen years, by the Divine savour and Indulgence, added to the Life of Hezekiah, even after the Prophet had brought this Moving meflage 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 thofe 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.
The Gracious Providence of God does oftentimes prolong the Lives of his Servants , by proper Acts of Preservation. For this must be meant by these, * and other Parallel expressions in Scripture; Thou shalt keep them, 0 Lord, thou shalt preserve them. The Lord Is thy keeper^ the Lord shall preserve thee from all evil. He shall defend thee under his Wings. There shall no evil happen unto thee. Instances of Good men's providential Deliverances may be more Signal, and strike a Deeper Impression upon us; But Instances of their Preservation are more Frequent, or, rather to be accounted Constant and Perpetual: An Invisible Divine Power is Always Defending them from the Invisible and unknown Designs of Evil Men, or, from Impending Evil Accidents, which would, otherwise, fall upon Life, and break it in pieces. It is Applicable to the Preservation of Life, as well as the other circumstances of Good Men, that -j- all things work together for good to them that love God: A Passage of
* Ps. xii. 7. cxxi. 5, 7. xci. 4. \ Rom. viii. z8.
Scripture Scripture, ever supplying Comfort to the. Expectations, and ever Consirmed by the Experience of Good Men. This Paflagc is said to have been Particularly recollected with high satisfaction, by that great Example of Faith and Beneficence, Epiphanius Bishop of Salamis, in the Clofe of his Life, which was then drawn out to the Length of about a Hundred years.
Who can be so Unjust, as to withhold that Veneration, which is a Debt Indispensably due to Old Age thus crown'd with Virtue? Or, who can Doubt that This is a Scene of Delight and True Happiness! For if a Man's Happiness essentially consists in his Firm Dependence on the Divine Favour, grounded upon a sense of his own Virtue and Goodness; then the Longer his Experience, and the more Extensive the Effect s, and the more Clear and Full the Tejlimonies of his own Goodness are, the Greater must the measures of his Happiness be. A Long Life thus Improved, thus Accomplished, thus Blessed, is no Faint Resemblance of That Immortality,