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creatures, His holy displeasure against wickedness, His impartial severity in punishing iniquity and impiety, or in vindicating His own sacred honour and authority, than by thus ordering His only Son, clothed with our nature, to suffer for
that also true virtue and goodness could not otherwise be taught, be exemplified, be commended and impressed, with greater advantage.
Since thereby, indeed, a charity and humanity so unparalleled, (far transcending theirs who have been celebrated for devoting their lives out of love to their country, or kindness to their friends), a meekness so incomparable, a resolution so invincible, a patience so heroical, were manifested for the instruction and direction of men; since never were the vices and the vanities of the world (so prejudicial to the welfare of mankind) so remarkably discountenanced; since never any suffering could pretend to so worthy and beneficial effects, the expiation of the whole world's sins, and reconciliation of mankind to God, the which no other performance, no other sacrifice, did ever aim to procure; since, in fine, no virtue had ever so glorious rewards, as sovereign dignity to him that exercised it, and eternal happiness to those that imitate it; since, I say, there be such excellent uses and fruits of the cross borne by our Saviour; we can have no reason to be offended at it, or ashamed of it; but with all reason heartily should approve and humbly adore the deep wisdom of God, together with all other His glorious attributes displayed therein. To whom, therefore, as is most due, let us devoutly render all glory and praise.
On Love to our Neighbour.
“The second" (Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself ], saith our Lord, “is like to it,” that is, to the precept of loving the Lord our God with all our heart: and is not this a mighty argument of immense goodness in God, that He doth in such a
LOVE TO OUR NEIGHBOUR.
manner commend this duty to us, coupling it with our main duty toward Him, and requiring us with like earnestness to love our neighbour as to love Himself ?
He is transcendently amiable for the excellency of His nature: He, by innumerable and inestimable benefits graciously conferred on us, hath deserved our utmost affection; so that naturally there can be no obligation bearing any proportion or considerable semblance to that of loving Him: yet hath He in goodness been pleased to create one, and to endue it with that privilege ; making the love of a man (whom we cannot value but for His gifts, to whom we can owe nothing but what properly we owe to Him) no less obligatory, to declare it near as acceptable as the love of Himself, to whom we owe all. To Him, as the sole author and free donor of all our good, by just correspondence, all our mind and heart, all our strength and endeavour, are due : and reasonably might He engross them to Himself, excluding all other beings from any share in them; so that we might be obliged only to fix our thoughts and set our affections on Him, only to act directly for His honour and interest; saying with the holy Psalmist, “ Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth that I desire beside thee;" yet doth He freely please to impart a share of these performances on mankind; yet doth He charge us to place our affection on one another; to place it there, indeed, in a measure so large, that we can hardly imagine a greater; according to a rule, than which none can be devised more complete or certain.
O marvellous condescension ! O goodness truly divine, which surpasseth the nature of things, which dispenseth with the highest right, and foregoeth the greatest interest that can be! Doth not God in a sort debase Himself, that He might advance us? Doth He not appear to waive His own due, and neglect His own honour for our advantage? How otherwise could the love of man be capable of any resemblance to the love of God, and not stand at an infinite distance, or in an extreme disparity from it? How otherwise could we be obliged to affect or regard any thing beside the sovereign, the only goodness? How otherwise could there be any second or like to that first, that great, that peerless command, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart ?"
The Universal Industry. Industry is commended to us by all sorts of examples, deserving our regard and imitation. All nature is a copy thereof, and the whole world a glass wherein we may behold this duty represented to us.
We may easily observe every creature about us incessantly working toward the end for which it was designed, indefatigably exercising the powers with which it is endued, diligently observing the laws of its creation. Even beings void of reason, of sense, of life itself, do suggest únto us resemblances of industry; they being set in continual action toward the effecting reasonable purposes, conducing to the preservation of their own beings, or to the furtherance of common good.
The heavens do roll about with unwearied motion ; the sun and stars do perpetually dart their influences; the earth is ever labouring in the birth and nourishment of plants; the plants are drawing sap, and sprouting out fruits and seeds, to feed us and propagate themselves ; the rivers are running, the seas are tossing, the winds are blustering, to keep the elements sweet in which we live.
Solomon sendeth us to the ant, and biddeth us to consider her ways, which provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. Many such instructors we may find in nature; the like industrious providence we may observe in every living creature; we may see this running about, that swimming, another flying, in purveyance of its food and support.
If we look up higher to rational and intelligent natures, still more noble and apposite patterns do object themselves to us.
Here below, every field, every shop, every street, the hall, the exchange, the court itself (all full of business, and fraught with the fruits of industry), do mind us how necessary industry is to us.
If we consult history, we shall there find that the best men have been most industrious ; that all great persons, renowned for heroical goodness (the worthy patriarchs, the holy prophets, the blessed apostles), were for this most commendable; that, neglecting their private ease, they did undertake difficult enterprises, they did undergo painful labours, for the benefit of mankind ; they did pass their days, like St Paul, ev KÓTOLS Kat Hoxous, in labours and toilsome pains, for those purposes.
Our great example, the life of our blessed Lord Himself, what was it but one continual exercise of labour ? His mind did ever stand bent in careful attention, studying to do good. His body was ever moving in wearisome travel to the same Divine intent.
If we yet soar further in our meditation to the superior regions, we shall there find the blessed inhabitants of heaven, the courtiers and ministers of God, very busy and active ; they do vigilantly wait on God's throne, in readiness to receive and to despatch His commands; they are ever on the wing, and fly about like lightning to do His pleasure. They are attentive to our needs, and ever ready to protect, to assist, to relieve us. Especially, they are diligent guardians and succourers of good men ; officious spirits, sent forth to minister for the heirs of salvation; so even the seat of perfect rest is no place of idleness.
Yea, God himself, although immoveably and infinitely happy, is yet immensely careful, and everlastingly busy; He rested once from that great work of creation ; but yet my
Father VOL. II.
(saith our Lord) worketh still ;” and He never will rest from His works of providence and of grace. His eyes continue watchful over the world, and His hands stretched out in upholding it. He hath a singular regard to every creature, supplying the needs of each, and satisfying the desires of all.
And shall we alone be idle, while all things are so busy? Shall we keep our hands in our bosom, or stretch ourselves on our beds of laziness, while all the world about us is hard at work in pursuing the designs of its creation? Shall we be wanting to ourselves, while so many things labour for our benefit? Shall not such a cloud of examples stir us to some industry? Not to comply with so universal a practice, to cross all the world, to disagree with every creature, is it not very monstrous and extravagant ?
An Ennocent facetiousness.
1. Such facetiousness is not absolutely unreasonable or unlawful, which ministereth harmless divertisement and delight to conversation : (harmless, I say,--that is, not intrenching upon piety, not infringing charity or justice, not disturbing peace.) For Christianity is not so tetrical, so harsh, so envious, as to bar us continually from innocent, much less from wholesome and useful pleasure, such as human life doth need or require. And if jocular discourse may serve to good purposes of this kind; if it may be apt to raise our drooping spirits, to allay our irksome cares, to whet our blunted industry, to recreate our minds, being tired and cloyed with graver occupations ; if it may breed alacrity, or maintain good humour among us ;
may conduce to sweeten conversation and endear society; then is it not inconvenient or unprofitable. If for those ends we may use other recreations, employing on them our ears and eyes, our hands and feet, our other instruments of sense and motion; why may we not as well to them accommodate our