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rendereth him civil, condescensive, kind and helpful to those who are in a meaner state. It instructeth and inciteth him to apply his wealth and power to the best uses, to the service of God, to the benefit of his neighbour for his own best reputation, and most solid comfort. It is the right ballast of prosperity, the only antidote for all the inconveniences of wealth ; that which secureth, sweeteneth and sanctifieth all other goods : without it all apparent goods are very noxious, or extremely dangerous; riches, power, honour, ease, pleasure, are so many poisons or so many snares without it. Again, is a man poor and low in the world ? Piety doth improve and sweeten even that state; it keepeth his spirits up above dejection, desperation, and disconsolateness : it freeth him from all grievous solicitude and anxiety: shewing him, that although he seemeth to have little, yet he may be assured to want nothing, he having a certain succour, and never-failing supply from God's good Providence ; that notwithstanding the present straitness of his condition, or scantiness of outward things, he hath a title to goods infinitely more precious and more considerable. A pious man cannot but apprehend himself like the child of a most wealthy, kind, and careful father, who although he hath yet nothing in his own possession, or passing under his name, yet is assured that he can never come into any want of what is needful to him : the Lord of all things (who hath all things in heaven and earth at his disposal, who is infinitely tender of his children's good, who doth incessantly watch over them) being his gracious Father, how can he fear to be left destitute, or not to be competently provided for, as is truly best for him? What if a man seem very poor; if he be abundantly satisfied in his own possessions and enjoyments? what if he tasteth not the pleasures of sense ; if he enjoyeth purer and sweeter delights of mind ? what if tempests of fortune surround him; if his mind be calm and serene? what if we have few or no friends; if he yet be thoroughly in peace and amity with himself, and can delightfully converse with his own thoughts? what if men slight, censure, or revile him ; if he doth value his own state, doth approve his own actions, doth acquit himself of blame in his own science ? such external contingencies can surely no more prejudice a man's real happiness, than winds blustering abroad can harm or trouble him that abideth in a good room within doors, than storms and fluctuations at sea can molest him who standeth firm upon the shore. *
PLEASURES OF PIETY.
What have we to do but to eat and drink, like horses or like swine; but to sport and play like children or apes; but to bicker and scuffle about trifies and impertinences, like idiots? what, but to
scrape and scramble for useless pelf; to hunt after empty shows and shadows of honour, or the vain fancies and dreams of men ? what but to wallow or bask in sordid pleasures, the which soon degenerate into remorse and bitterness ? to which sort of employments were a man confined, what a pitiful thing would he be, and how inconsiderable were his life? were a man designed only, like a fly, to buzz about here for a time, sucking in the air and licking the dew, then soon to vanish back into nothing, or to be transformed into worms; how sorry and despicable a thing were he ? and such without religion we should be. But it supplieth us with business of a most worthy nature, and lofty importance ; it setteth us upon doing things great and noble as can be; it engageth us to free our minds from all fond conceits, and cleanse our hearts from ail corrupt affections; to curb our brutish appetites, to tame our wild passions, to correct our perverse inclinations, to conform the dispositions of our soul, and the actions of our life to the eternal laws of righteousness and goodness; it putteth us upon the imitation of God, and aiming at the resemblance of his perfections; upon obtaining a friendship, and maintaining a correspondence with the High and Holy One; upon fitting our minds for conversation and society with the wisest and purest spirits above; upon providing for an immortal state ; upon the acquist of joy and glory everlasting. It employeth us in the divinest actions of promoting virtue, of performing beneficence, of serving the public, and doing good to all; the being exercised in which things doth indeed render a man highly considerable, and his life excellently valuable. *
DUTY OF THANKSGIVING.f
WHEREVER we direct our eyes, whether we reflect them inward upon ourselves, we behold his goodness to occupy and penetrate the very root and centre of our beings; or extend them abroad toward the things about us, we may perceive ourselves enclosed wholly, and surrounded with his benefits. At home we find a comely body framed by his curious artifice, various organs fitly proportioned, situated and tempered for strength, ornament, and motion, actuated by a gentle heat, and invigorated with lively spirits, disposed to health, and qualified for a long endurance; subservient to a soul endued with divers senses, faculties, and powers, apt to enquire after, pursue and perceive various delights and contents. Or when we contemplate the wonderful works of nature, and, walking about at our leisure, gaze upon this ample theatre of the world, considering the stately beauty, constant order, and sumptuous furniture thereof; the glorious splendour and uniform motion of the heavens; the pleasant fertility of the earth; the curious figure and fragrant sweetness of plants ; the exquisite frame of animals, and all other ama
* Serm. iii. p, 25,
+ Vol. 1, Serin. viii. p. 71, 79.
zing miracles of nature, wherein the glorious attributes of God (especially his transcendent goodness) are most conspicuously displayed ; (so that by them not only large acknowledgments, but even congratulatory hymns, as it were, of praise, have been extorted from the mouths of Aristotle, Pliny, Galen, and such like men, never suspected guilty of an excessive devotion;) then should our hearts be affected with thankful sense, and our lips break forth into his praise.
To the question what the thing we speak of is, or what this facetiousness doth import? I might reply as Democritus did to him that asked the definition of a Man, 'Tis that which we all see and know : any one better apprehends what it is by acquaintance, than I can inform him by description. It is indeed a thing so versatile and multiform, appearing in so many shapes, so many postures, so many garbs, so variously apprehended by several eyes and judgments, that it seemeth no less hard to settle a clear and certain notion thereof, than to make a portrait of Proteus, or to define the figure of a fleeting air. Sometimes it lieth in pat allusion to a known story, or in seasonable application of a trivial saying, or in forging an apposite tale; sometimes it playeth in words and phrases, taking advantage from the ambiguity of their sense, or the affinity of their sound : sometimes it is wrapped