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Not such as Europe breeds in her decay;
Such as she bred when fresh and young, When heavenly flame did animate her clay,
By future poets shall be sung.
Westward the course of empire takes its way;
The four first acts already past,
Time's noblest offspring is the last.
S E R M 0 N,
PREACHED BEYORE THL
PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL
IN FOREIGN PARTS,
ANNIVERSARY MEETING IN TIIE PARISH-CHURCH OF ST. MARY-LE-BOW,
ON FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1731.
This is life eternal, that they may know thee the only true God, and
Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.-John xvii. 3.
That human kind were not designed merely to sojourn a few days upon this earth : that a being of such excellence as the soul of man, so capable of a nobler life, and having such a high sense of things moral and intellectual, was not created in the sole view of being imprisoned in an earthly tabernacle, and partaking a few pains and pleasures which chequer this mortal life, without aspiring to any thing either above or beyond it, is a fundamental doctrine as well of natural religion as of the Christian. It comes at once recommended by the authority of philosophers and evangelists. And that there actually is in the mind of man a strong instinct and desire, an appetite and tendency, towards another and a better state, incomparably superior to the present, both in point of happiness and duration, is no more than every one's experience and inward feeling may inform him. The satiety and disrelish attending sensual enjoyments, the relish for things of a more pure and spiritual kind, the restless motion of the mind, from one terrene object or pursuit to another, and often a flight or endeavour above them all towards something unknown, and perfective of its nature, are so many signs and tokens of this better state, which in the style of the gospel is termed life eternal.
And as this is the greatest good that can befal us,
very end of our being, and that alone which can crown and satisfy our wishes, and without which we shall be ever restless and uneasy; so every man, who knows and acts up to his true interest, must make it his principal care and study to obtain it: and in order to this, he must endeavour to live suitably to his calling, and of consequence endeavour to make others obtain it too. For how can a Christian shew himself worthy of his calling otherwise than by performing the duties of it? And what Christian duty is more essentially so than that of charity? And what object can be found upon earth more deserving our charity than the souls of men? Or how is it possible for the most beneficent spirit to do them better service, than by promoting their best and most lasting interest, that is, by putting them in the way that leads to eternal life.
What this eternal life was, or how to come at it, were points unknown to the heathen world. It must be owned, the wise men of old, who followed the light of nature, saw even by that light, that the soul of man was debased, and borne downwards, contrary to its natural bent, by carnal and terrene objects; and that, on the other hand, it was exalted, purged, and in some sort assimilated to the Deity, by the contemplation of truth and practice of virtue. Thus much in general they saw or surmised. But then about the way and means to know the one, or perform the other, they were much at a loss. They were not agreed concerning the true end of mankind; which, as they saw, was mistaken in the vulgar pursuits of men ; so they found it much more easy to confute the errors of others, than to ascertain the truth themselves. Hence so many divisions and disputes about a point which it most imported them to know, insomuch as it was to give the bias to human life, and govern the whole tenor of their actions and
But when life and immortality were brought to light