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this does not exclude a general, or a particular Providence, that interposes, though not apparently, either to bless, or to punish Nations, or particular Persons. And what can better intitle us to his Favour, than a due Observance of his fa vourite Institution? What more likely to bring down a Curse upon us, than Disobedience in so tender a Point? If God were to inflict upon us no other Punishment than withdrawing his Grace for neglecting so great a Means of Improvement in Piety and Virtue, This would exceed any Evil that we can suffer in this Life; and the Apprehension of so great a Danger ought to awaken us into a careful and regular Discharge of this Important Duty. But, whether Chastisements overtake us here, or not, we are sure that "Judgment, at the Last Great Day, will pronounce a most severe Sentence upon those who have wilfully, and habitually, profaned the Sunday. It will, then, be of no Signification that they contriv'd, by Secrecy, to escape publick Notice; that filly People have been afraid, or ashamed, to inform against them j or that indolent Magistrates have neglected to put the Laws in Execution. All hidden Sins will be laid open j alt such secret Sinners will be detected: and all such as, through Cowardice, or want of Zeal for the Honour of God, have not endeavoured so prevent such Instances of Profanation, will be Sharers in their Punishment, because Partakers with them in their Guilt. Thope,
there are none in this Place who do not believe lieve the Certainty of a Providence, a future State, and a future Judgment. Tp all such what I have said, concerning God's Anger and Favour, must be affecting, if any Arguments can affect them: but as I intend, God willing, to print these Sermons, they may possibly light into the Hands of some Infidels; and, therefore, I mall offer some Considerations that deserve their Attention, because they affect their present Happiness. -.
The Happiness of Mankind in this Life. must, in a great measure, depend upon the Peace and good Order of civil Society; witness, the many Frauds, Thefts, Robberies* Murders, Maimings, and other Crimes, wlucti. make it unsafe to place that Confidence in one another which Trade, Commerce, Friendship, and all Intercourse require; which make it dangerous to travel by Day, or sleep at Night; to go Abroad, or to stay at Home. We fee, we feel, how Destructive these Enormities are to social Happiness, and have Reason to dread -their quick Progress, and our growing Danger\ These Evils are like a great Stone rolling down-hill, which rolls the faster the nearer it comes to the Bottom. All thinking People must be desirous of seeing a Regulation o£ such Disorders j and many are projecting. tb.ej proper Means of effecting it. Many . Remjs-j dies, no doubt, may conspire towards a Cuf^ of this dangerous Distemper. I hope, . in my Turn I may be allowed the Liberty of proposing one, Like most other good Medicines,
mine is very simple, consisting of two Ingredients, only; Religion, and Virtue. To talk of keeping the World in order without their Assistance, is mere Quackery. 'You may as well imagine that a Ship, with all her Sails crouded, but without Ballast or Rudder, mould ride. safe amidst Rocks and Shelves in a Tempest. Infidels pay a Compliment to Religion, when they intend to vilify Her. They suppose Her to be a Composition contrived by Priests, or Politicians. But for what Ends? For her Utility, for her Necessity, towards the Support of Civil Society. Is this indeed the Cafe? What could be a stronger Recommendation of her to those who believe no future State, than to say that She is necessary to the publick Peace and Order of the World ? What can be a greater Reproach to their Understanding, to their Common Sense and Prudence (for as to Conscience they pretend to none) than to depreciate, and destroy, the great Means of their own Safety and Happiness? Men, in every Relation of Life, want, and desire, the friendly Aids of Religion; and yet most People flight Her, and many abuse Her.
Religion being acknowledged to be the great Support os Society, What is the great Means of supporting Her? Various are the Concurrent Helps that may be given Her, but there is one Means worth them all, and without which all the rest will be ineffectual. This is provided us by the infinite Wisdom of God. I mean, the regular Observation of the Sunday, in the
Manner Manner that I have recommended to you. What Effects it would have upon the Minds, and Manners of Men, must be obvious to the lowest Understanding that will think a little. How absolutely necessary it is, especially in our present-Circumstances, will appear from a cursory View of the State of the Nation, and the Nature of Things. Can Men believe the Truths of Religion without any Evidence? Or have any Evidence without Instruction? Can they practise their Duty without knowing it? Or will they be inclin d to do it, without having a Conception of the proper Motives? Can Men be religious without ever seriously thinking about it? And yet, it is evident that the Generality of Mankind, without Compulsion, will think of nothing but Bujiness ovPleafure. They must owe all the little that they do know, and practise, of Religion, to publick Instruction, and publick Worship. If this Observation were ever true, it is more particularly so at this Time; when Luxury and Voluptuousness , those Enemies to all serious Thought and Reflection, to every Religious and Virtuous Disposition, are at so great an Height, that People neglect the Concerns of this Life, as well as of the next. There is a continual Rotation of pleasurable Amusements *; some
* We have been Iately.told in one of the Daily Papers, that the Resort t&&£-P!ay-HouJrs is so much increased within twenty Years past, taat tKe Managers can afford to give the first Rate Actors 1000/. 'stYeS?, and the second Rate 500/. Such are the Wages of those who please and corrupt Mankind; while many honest Men, who have spent their Life in doing solid Good, are unsupported, unrevjarded, and even sighted. •
of them Inflammatory Provocatives to Lust, and calculated for intriguing; all of them tending to banish Reflection, and weaken the Mind, when it is so confiantly attentive to them. I have not Time to paint all these Scenes of Entertainment, and describe their natural Effects, especially on young Minds, warm, unexperienced, fond of Pleasure, in the Heat of Blood, and impatient of Application to any thing that is of a grave Nature. Do not these Circumstances make it the more necessary to oblige all People to devote one Day in seven to such Uses as may be an Antidote against such strong Poison? His Majesty, in his last Speech from the Throne, recommended it to the Consideration of Parliament, how to put a Stop to those Enormities, which terrify every sober Person that thinks of them. This was worthy of his Majesty's tender Care of the Happiness of his People; and I hope it will not be thought a Piece of Presumption in me, if I observe, that regulating publick Entertainments, and inforcing of the Observation of the Sunday, will be the most effectual Means of doing it.