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it be attended with perpetual Care and Distractions; if often impossible to be obtained by us; and always possible to be taken from us; if it may be defeated by petty Accidents and Crosses, and that such should happen, cannot be avoided : If for these Reasons, and many others which we cannot now insist upon, they are unable to render any Man truly happy ; what remains, but that we seek for true Happiness somewhere else? If the former cannot be the supreme End of Man, and if it be natural to us to direct all our Actions to some End; it will be necessary for us to find out some other End, and when found out, to apply our utmost Diligence to obtain it.
And here perhaps human Reason having thus far proceeded, might continue to grope in the Dark, and after a tedious Disquisition be unable to discover either the End or the Means of obtaining it. God hath therefore, in Compassion to our Infirmities, marked out both the Nature and the Means of Supreme Happiness. The Nature of it is Peace of Conscience here, and therein the Hopes of the Fruition of God here after, which Hopes shall then be turned ind to Possession: The Means of it Obedience to his Laws, and Faith in Christ. By these we shall obtain an Happiness, which shall fill the utmost Capacities of the Soul, which shall be co-extended with the Duration of it; which shall satisfy us, but never weary
us; which shall affect all the Faculties both of Soul and Body; which shall be interrupted by no Crosses and Disasters; which will never expire, but be renewed every Moment; which no Adversity of Fortune, nor Infirmity of Body, which neither the Malice of Men or Devils shall be able to take from us.
To a serious Application of your selves to obtain this blessed State, I hope what has been said will be no small Motive to you. You all desire Happiness; and if the Soul be once fully convinced what is the only true Happiness, it cannot but move towards it, and exert all its Faculties in the Acquisition of it. After a firm Persuasion that this is indeed the End of Man, there needs no Exhortation to pursue it. The Pursuit of it will then be no less natural, than the fatisfying of Hunger, or any other reasonable Appetite.
The Misfortune is, that we suffer our selves to be deluded by the Impressions of Sense, and unruly Passions, representing and amplifying to us the Happiness arising from the Fruition of carnal Pleasures and secular Delights; we are not unwilling these Passions hould arise; we permit these false Judgments to be formed; we are pleased at first with the Delusion, although conscious of it; and at last become so far stupified, that we do not perceive it; until at last a terri. ble Affliction or the approaches of Death awaken the Soul, and revive its better Notions. What those dreadful Remembrancers may then do, Reason may now much more easily and more certainly effect; to reflect upon the Nature of worldly Enjoyments, to consider their Vanity, and disco. ver their Emptiness. When this Coaviction is throughly formed, we shall be even necessitated to look upward, and fix our Hopes in Heaven; and then we are assured, that our Labours directed thither shall not miscarry; that they shall be assisted by God, promoted by his Spirit, and crowned with Success; Success which will give us Satis faction of Mind here, and Fulness of Joy hereafter. To this Joy, may God, &c.
Preach'd on the 23d of June, 1689,
at Lambeth Chapel.
JOB XXXVII. 23, 24. Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him
out: He is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: He will not afflict. Men do therefore fear bim.
HE Ground of all Religion, whether Natural or Revealed, consists in
the Knowledge of the Nature of God, and of his Conduct in the Government of the World. The first representerh him to Man, as a fit Object of Adoration; the latter persuadeth Man to adore him. Without the first there would be no Reason to adore him; without the latter no Obligation. The Perfection therefore of any Religion consists in an accurate Delivery of these Matters; in giving right Notions of the Nature
of may be
of God, and in teaching with Certainty the Method of his external Actions. The former is always the same, and admits no Variation; the latter may receive Improvements in Relation to Man, and lay greater Obligations on him under one Dispensation than under another.
So much of both may be known by the Light of Reason, as may direct Men aright to the Worship of God, if they employ their Reason in a due Manner; and convince them at the same time of their Obligation to worship him ; but both mistaken in the natural Use of the Understanding; and when mistaken, will equally defeat the Worship of God; a Mistake of the first Nature leading Men into Idolatry, of the second into Negligence and Impiety. It is not so easy indeed to mistake concerning the first, the Nature of God, which may. easily be discerned by the weakest Undera standing; I mean so much of it as ferves to beget Notions of Religion in Men. All Men, whether true Believers or Idolaters, agree in this common Notion of God, that he is a most perfect Being; and then surely it is no hard Matter to determine whether Omnipotence, Omniscience, Omnipresence, and fuch like, be necessary Perfections; without which a most perfect Being cannor fubsist. Yet Mankind hath most miserably mistaken in this plain and easy Matter; hath deified Creatures which have none of all