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to learn Application, and Diligence in the Execution of Duty, from the Aétivity of very inconsiderable Creatures, labouring in pursuit of their natural Tendencies and Direétion, Go to the Amt, thou Sluggard, consider her //ays, and be wise: There we are supplied by our Blessed Saviour Himself with an Argument, for the Aétual Exercise of Goodness, taken from an Observation upon the Trees of the Field; * Every Tree that bringeth not forth good Fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the Fire. Not only those Trees which produce Corrupt Fruit, but those which do not Aétually bring forth Good Fruit, those which produce No Fruit at All, must be destroyed. For, that this is the Meaning of the Text, is very plain. from our Lord's Parable of the Fig-tree; The Owner whereof + said unto the dres. ser of his someyard, Behold, these three Years I come seeking Fruit on this Fig-tree, and find mome; cut it down, why cumbreth it the Ground? To which nothing could justly be opposed but this, Lord,
let it alone this Tear also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear Fruit, well; and if mot, them after that thou shalt cut it down. When it finally proves Fruitless, it must, in all reason, be finally Destroyed."
To this purpose our Blessed Saviour, in the Parable of the * Seed Sowm, represents the Faithful and only acceptable Servants of God under the View of That Seed, which Aétually brought forth Fruit, fome an hundred-fold, some sixty, and some thirty. And in the Parable of the + 7a!ents, he introduceth the Person, who had hid his Talent in the Earth, under the Charaćter of a slothful, and wicked, and unprofitable Servant, and justly obnoxious to the severest Punishment: Where it should be well observed, that This Servant had not employed his Talent to his Lord's Detriment or Dishonour; that he had not Abused it, or perverted it to any Evil Purposes, in Contempt of his Lord, or direét Rebellion against him; he had not so much as
Squandred and Wasted his Talent by
any Means whatsoever: But he had ne— glećted to improve it, to apply it to Any Purpose, to make any Use of it at All; and upon this single Point, because he was Slothful and Unaćtive, did his Condemnation turn: Though he had Aétually committed no Evil, yet because he had not actually done any Good, the dreadful Sentence is given against him, Cast ye the umprofitable Servant into outer Darkness, there shall be weeping and gmashing of 7eeth. The unprofitable Servant is the Parallel to the fruitles Tree, which must not be suffered to stand at all, because it would stand to no other purpose but to cumber the Ground. How superficial therefore and imperfeót must our Notions of our own State be, if we do not plainly perceive our selves obliged, in order to Salvation, not only to withstand the Temptations of Sin, but to fulfil the various Duties which are enjoined: Which may still further appear from that more Particular Consi– deration of this point which is now in
Second Place to be added to the Gemeral One already offer'd: Where I shall represent our obligation to Good Works, or, to the actual Exercise of Goodness, as such Good Works may be confidered,
1. In respect of God, as we are Created and Redeemed by him, and Subjećt to him, and therefore Obliged to contribute our utmost to His Honour. For thus St. Paul does at once give us a Rule of Duty, and the Reason of it, * Glorify God in your Bodies, and in your Spirits, which are Go D's. And the Method of Answering this high Obligation, and Accomplishing this great End, is assigned by our Blessed Lord himself; Let your Light so shine before Men, that they may see your good Wo RKs, and glorifie your Father which is in Heaven. Whilst we deny our selves unlawful Pleasures, and unlawful Advantages, out of a Sense of Duty, grounded upon the Love of God, we do undoubtedly acquit our selves in an Acceptable manner
+ 1 Cor. vi. 20, f Matt, V, 16.
before him; and if the Other parts of our Behaviour are but Agreeable to This, we shall not fail of the Recompence of Reward: And, as Corrupt Inclinations Within are More Powerful, and Temptations from Without More Engaging, Aćts of Self-denial will be still More Approved in the Judgment of God, and Crowned with a Higher Reward. But still 'tis possible that we may deny our selves the commission of most agreeable Sins, and yet contribute Little or Nothing to the advancement of God's Glory. The abstaining from sinful Aétions is indeed the preventing direét Dishonour to God; but our Obligation to promote God's Honour does signifie a great deal more than our avoiding plain instances of Dishonour towards Him: It implies Positive and Absolute Duties, whereby we shall give direét occasion of Celebrating His Praise, and propagating the Glory of His Name. And therefore all Those who are so far Innocent and Harmless, that they do not launch out into any Enormities, but yet spend their Lives, and possess their Talents, in a Dream
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