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blant foever Virtue and Vice may be, there are certain Notes and Characters, whereby we may diftinguish them, not only in our Thoughts, but in our Practice; and that, therefore, to avoid the Appearance of Evil, it is highly expedient and neceffary, that we endeavour to exprefs this Difference in the whole Conduct of our Lives, as fully, and fignificantly as we poffibly can; but, if all this will not do to conciliate the good Opinion of a perverfe World, the Apoftle's Advice will then come in to our Comfort and Relief: Sanctify the Lord in your Hearts, and be always ready to give an Answer to every Man, that afketh you a Reafon of the Hope that is in you, with Meeknefs and Fear: Having a good Confcience, that, whereas they Speak Evil of you, as of Evil-doers, they may be afhamed, that falsely accufe your good Conversation in Chrift; and others, by your good Works, which they behold, may glorify God in the Day of Vifitation.
Of the Defire of Righteousness.
LESSED are they which do hunger and thirst after Righteousness, for they shall be filled, is one of the happy Sentences of our Saviour's Sermon upon the Mount, and may be a proper Argument for the Conclufion of this Work. By Righteoufnefs here, we are to understand the Whole Duty of Man, in all Relations and Capacities; or that Integrity of Obedience, and universal Regard to all God's Commandments, which thofe, that endeavour to serve him in Sincerity and Truth, are ready, on all Occafions, to exprefs, both in their Temper of Mind, and outward Behaviour: And to bunger and thirst after this Righteoufnefs implies an ardent and intenfe Defire of it; fuch a Defire, as will not be fatisfied without it; fuch a Defire, as puts Men upon trying all poffible Means, and
ufing their utmoft Endeavours to attain it. an earnest Appetite and Intention of Mind to grow in Grace, and in the Knowledge of our Lord and Sa+ viour Jefus Chrift; to follow his Example, and to be counted worthy of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light. 'Tis a fincere Endeavour to mortify all the Remains of Sin in us, to get the perfect Maftery of our Affections and Paffions, and to bring them under an intire Subjection to the Law of God; to increase daily in all Christian Virtues and to walk in every Thing, as it becomes the Profeffors of a moft holy Religion. 'Tis a fervent Breathing after greater Degrees of Charity, Humility, Patience, and all other Graces; for getting thofe Things, that are behind, the Pitch of Goodness we have already attained; and reaching forth unto thofe Things, that are before, that Perfec tion in Piety and Virtue, which alone can fatiffy a generous Chriftian; and preffing towards the Mark of the Prize of the high Calling of God in Chrift Jefus A Weaning our Hearts from the World, and fixing them upon that happy State, where we fhall fin no more, but be eftablifhed for ever in confummate Righteoufnefs. In fhort, 'tis fuch an eager and importunate, fuch a fincere and efficacious Defire for all this, as the Man, who is almost famished with Hunger, and parched up with Drought, has for that Meat and Drink, with which, if he be not foon supplied, he knows he must unavoidably perish.
This is the full Force of the Metaphor, and proper Import of the Duty; and the Reward annexed to it, though comprized in these few Words, they fhall be filled, is, in itself, of an adequate Extent. For, 1. They fhall be filled with the Righteousness they defire. 2. They fhall be filled with Comfort and Satisfaction of Mind here; and, 3. They fball be filled with all imaginable Happiness bereafter. Y 3
1. The great Defign of God, from the Beginning of the World, was, that all Mankind might ferve him in Holiness and Righteousness, and be accordingly rewarded by him; and, to effect this, he, in his infinite Wifdom, has contrived many wonderful Ways. He has imprinted the Law of Righteoufnefs upon the Hearts and Consciences of Men; he hath bound it up with their Reason and Understanding; he hath fent his Son into the World to promote the Practice of it, both by his Inftruction and Example; by his Holy Spirit he begins the good Work, where it is not, and cherishes it, where it is begun; and, in fhort, he hath omitted no Methods of engaging us; all that Promises and Threatenings, that kind Intreaties and vehement Expoftulations can do, he hath not left unattempted; and, after all this, it would be incongruous to think, that he will refufe the Gift of Righteousness and Sanctification to fuch, as heartily defire and endeavour it. We cannot fay fo with Respect to the Bleffings of this prefent Life: The Race, as the wife Man obferves, is not always to the Swift, nor the Battle to the Strong, nor Bread to the Wife, nor Riches to Men of Understanding, nor yet Favour to Men of Skill; but Time and Chance happen to them all. Though Art and Industry do naturally tend to make Men rich, yet they are often blafted in the Event. Experience is a standing Evidence of this, that neither Fraud nor Honefty, Righteousness nor Unrighteousness, the most likely Endeavours, nor the most diligent Application can effectually command the Things of this World: But it is not fo with the Bleffings that are better worth enjoying. There is no Defeat in the Endeavours after Righteoufnefs. A Man cannot be disappointed, who labours to be virtuThe Love and Defire of the Thing does naturally enforce the Practice, and the Practice
brings on the Habit, and the Habit is continually ftrengthened by the Influence of God's Holy Spirit, till it be finally confirmed and rewarded in Glory. God may refufe, and refuse, in Kindness, to hear the Prayers even of a good Man, when he prays for temporal Bleffings; but he never refuses (at least he never does it in Mercy) to grant Requefts for Spiritual; upon which Prefumption it is, that Solomon founds this Exhortation : If thou crieft after Knowledge, and lifteft up thy Voice for Understanding; if thou feekeft her, as Silver, and fearcheft for her, as for bid Treafures; then shalt thou underftand the Fear of the Lord, and find the Knowledge of God; then shalt thou understand Righteoufness, and Judgment, and Equity, and every good Path.
2. He fhall be filled with Comfort and Satisfaction here. The Progrefs and Proficiency he makes in the Ways of Righteousness will fill him with a fpiritual Joy, far exceeding the Pleasure, which any Thing else in this World can afford. For God has fo adapted Religion to the Mind of Man, that, though there be Labour in the Undertaking, yet there is always a Relish that goes along with it. The conquering of an evil Habit, or a strong Temptation, is like the conquering of a powerful Enemy, difficult to perform, but what, when accomplished, fills him with mighty Joy and Tri.umph. Every Grace he obtains, every finful Inclination he subdues, every good Action he performs, is no less, than a new Conveyance to him of eternal Glory, a new Afsurance of his Right and Title; and this, being what is congenial to his Soul, must be intirely agreeable to all his Faculties. But we have not Time to follow the righteous Man through all the pleasurable Perceptions of his Life; and shall therefore chufe to confider him only, as he is drawing to the Period of it: When, if ever, he will rightly understand the ineftimable
estimable Price of a quiet Conscience, of a fatisfied Mind, and of an Hope full of Glory and Immortality When, if ever, he will find That, which was always a continual Feaft, then a fovereign Cordial, and Food of Angels; for never certainly is Peace and Comfort more seasonable, than at this Inftant.
What an unspeakable Satisfaction then must it be to a dying Man, when, if he looks backward, he fees a Life well fpent; if forward, he has before him a bright Profpect of immortal Glory. When he can fay, with King Hezekiah, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I walked before thee in Truth, and with a perfect Heart; or, with the great Apostle, even when within View of his Diffolution, I have fought a good Fight, I have finifhed my Courfe, I have kept the Faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a Crown of Righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, fhall give me at that Day. It muft needs, I fay, be an unfpeakable and inconceivable Satisfaction for a Man in his laft Hour, when all are fad about him, and concerned for him; then to confider, that there is a better State, and that he has a Title to it; that, when his earthly Tabernacle fhall be diffolved, he has a Building with God, an House not made with Hands, eternal in the Heavens; that, when he fhall cease to converse with Men, he fhall dwell with God, and converse with Angels; in a Word, that he is to leave nothing but Vanities and Shadows behind him, and that he has the folid and real Happiness of a whole Eternity before him. What a mild and unterrifying Thing is Death to fuch a Man as this, and with what Serenity and Chearfulness does he entertain its Summons! He can fmile in the Physician's Face, when he hears him pronounce his Sickness defperate; can receive his Sentence without Trembling, and, if his Senfes hold out