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Preached at BOW-CHURCH, .? On the Thirtieth of January, 1675. 1... 1 Tim. iv.. 8. Godliness is profitable unto 'all Things,
. having a Promise of the Life that now i is, and of that which is to come. ::
: o HESE Words are the Enforcement
of an Exhortation which St. Paul had me made to Timothy, in the Verse before
I going, which was, that he should avoid prophane and old Wives Fables; meaning those impious and superstitious Doétrines, and the carnal and unchristian Observances, that were grounded upon them (some of which he had mentioned in the Beginning of this Chapter) which some at that. Time did endeavour to introduce into Christianity: And instead of applying his Mind to these, that he should rather exercise himself unto true Godlinefs.
This was the Exhortation. : The Arguments wherewith he enforceth it are Two:
First, the Unprofitableness of these Carnal and s Superftitious Doctrines and Practices. Bodih Exercise (faith he) profiteth little. Secondly, od The real Usefulness of folid Virtue and Godli- bu ness, to all the Purposes of Life. Godliness is i profitable to all Things, having a Promise of this Life, as well as of that which is to come.
I shall not here meddle at all with the for- og mer Part of the Apostle's Exhortation, or the Argument that hath relation to it; but shall apply myself wholly to the latter, craving leave most plainly and affectionately to press upon you the Exercise of Godliness, upon those Grounds and Confiderations on which the a Apostle here recommended it.
Indeed, to a Man that considers well, it will appear the most unaccountable thing in the is World, that among all those several Exercises that Mankind busie themselves about, this of Godliness should be in so great a measure neglected; that Men should be so diligent, fo indyItrious, so unwearied, some in getting Estates, others in purveying for Pleasure, others in learning Arts, and Trades, all in some thing or other relating tothis sensible World; and so few should ftudy to acquaint themselves with God, and the Concernments of their Souls, to learn the Arts of Virtue and Religious Conversation. .
Certain it is, this Piece of Skill is not more above our Reach than many of those other Things we fo industriously pursue; nay, I am apt to think it is more within our Power than most of them; for in our other Labours we cannot always promise to ourselves certain Suc
cess: a Thoufand Things may intervene which we know not of, that may defeat all our Plots and Designs, though never so carefully laid ; but no Man ever seriously undertook the Business of Religion, but he accomplished it..
Nay, farther, As we can with greater Cera, tainty, fo can we with less Pains and Difficulty promise to ourselves Success in this Affair, than we can hope to compass most of our Worldly Designs, which so much take up our Thoughts. I doubt not in the leaft, but that lefs Labour, less Trouble, less Solicitude will serve to make a Man a good Chriftian, than to get an Estate, or to attain a competent Skill in Human Arts and Sciences..
* And then for other Motives, to oblige us to the Study of Religion, we have incomparably more and greater than we can have for the Pursuit of any other thing. It is certainly the greatest Concernment we have in the World. It is the very Thing God sent us into the World about. In it is the very Thing that his Son came down from Heaven to instruct us in. It is the very Thing by which we shall be concluded everlastinglý Happy, or everlastingly Miserable, after this Life is ended.;
These Things well considered, we may juftly (I fay) stand amazed, that Men should be fo prodigeously supine and negligent in an Affair of this Nature and Importance, as we see they generally are.
If there can any Account be given of this Matter, I suppose it must be fome such as this, that the Things of this World, upon
which we bestow our Care, our Time, our Courtship, are present to us. We see them every Day before our Eyes ; we taste; we feel the Sweetness of them; we are sensible that their Enjoyment is abfolutely necessary. to our prefent Well-being. But as for Spiritual Matters, they lie under a great Disadvantage: They appear to us as at a great Distance: We do not apprehend any present need, we have of them: Nor do we fanfy any Sweetness or Relish in them : 'nay, on the .contrary, we form the mott frightful and dismal Images of them that can be. We look upon them not only as flat, and unfavoury; but as Things which if we trouble our Heads too much. about, will certainly ruin all our Designs in this World... We think Religion good for no- ja thing but to spoil good Company, to make us bi Melancholy and Mopish; to distract, us in our Business and Employments, and to put so many Restraints upon us, that we can neither with that Freedom nor Success, pursue our temporal Concernments, which we think neceffary to our Happiness in this World..“
But let us suppose Things to be thus with Religion as we have fanfied, yet cannot this be any reasonable Excuse for our Carelesness about it. What though there were no visible Benefit by a Religious Life in this World ? What though the Rewards of our Pains about it were only in Reversion? Yet since a Time. will come when it will be our greatest Interest to have been heartily Religious, is it not a Madness now to neglect it? What tho! ReI sure
ligion be a Coutse, of Life difficult and unpleasant ;, jarWay, strewed with Briars and Thorns; a Way, which if we follow we are certainly loft, as to our Hopes of any thing here? Yet sincefía. Time, will certainly come when we shall wish, that we had been good Christians, though we had toit our right Eyes and our right Hands upon the Condition; when we fhall wish, that we had purchased Virtue, tho' at the rate of the Loss of the whole World: for God's fake why should we not be of the fame Mind. now? Who but, Fools and Chile dren, but will look upon that, which Ihall certainly and unavoidably be, with the same regard, as if it was now present? 10 te But, indeed, this is not the Case of Religion ; This, Bufiness of Piety is not fo formidable, as we often represent it. It is no such Enemy to our Temporal Designs I: It is a very innocent Thing, and will dots no harm; tho' we look no farther than this present World. It will hinder none of our Delights or Pleafures; but will allow us to gratify every Appen tite that God and Nature hath put into us. And if any Man doubt this, let him name thạt natural Desire, which the Christian Religion doth forbid, or any way hinder the innocent Satisfaction of: I am confident he fhall be able to name none. Since this is the Case then, how much more Childish than Children, shall we appear, if we make so little
ng of it? How inexcusably Foolish fhall we be, if we will not be at some Pains to possess ourselves of that which will be no