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manner of Hindrance to us in our Affairs in this World, and will infallibly make us everlastingly happy in that which is to come ?,"; :: But farther; What if it be certain, that a Life of ftri& Virtue is not only no Hindranice to our Temporal Designs, but a great Furtherance of them? What if it can be proved, that besides the Influence it has on our Happiness in the next Life, it is also the best Thing in the World to serve our turns in this ? And that nothing can so much contribute to the bringing about our Worldly Aims, no fuch ready way to attain to what our very Flesh and Blood most desires, most delights in, as to be sincerely Pious. Whiat imaginable Pretence can we have then for our Contempt of the God and Virtue? If this can be made to appear, fure all our Objections will be fully be answered; all our Scruples fatisfied; all our Prejudices against Religion wholly removed, and every one that is not abandoned of his Fortune and his Senses, as well as his Réafort, must think himself concerned to become a Votary to it; since he can have no Temptation or Motive to Vice, which will not more powerfully draw him to Virtue; and all the Ends that the one can pretend to serve, will much more effectually be served by the other; and he escapes an Eternity of Misery, and gets everlasting Life in to the Bargain. 1;: - I think it, therefore, worth the while to fpend the Time now allotted me, in making good this Point, and discovering something at least of that universal Profitableness of Godli
nefs; to the Purposes of Human Life, that St. Paul in my Text assures us of.
But because the Studies of Men are so infinitely various, and the. Ends of Life to be served, so many, that it will be impoflible to speak particularly of them; it will be needful to pitch upon some General Heads, such as, if they do not comprehend all, may yet take in most of those Things, to which the Labours and Endeavours of Men are directed, and in the Acquisition of which they have compassed their Designs; and to shew the Serviceableness of Religion above all other Means, for the attaining of them. And I think I cannot pitch better than upon those Three noted Idols of the World, Wealth and Honour and Pleasure; these being the Goods which have always been accounted to divide Man. kind among them; and into the Service of fome one or all of which, all that set up for a Happy Life in this World, do list themfelves, how different and difagreeing foever they be from one another as to their particular Employments and Ways of Living. I shall therefore make it appear, that Godliness and Religion, is a very great Furtherance to the Acquisition of all these; and that no Man can take a more ready way, either to improve his Fortune, or to purchase a Name and Reputation among. Men, or to live comfortably and pleasantly in this world, than heartily to serve God, and to live in the Practice of every Virtue.
And in the First Place, I begin with the Conduciveness of Religion and Godliness, to ima
prove our outward Fortunes; the Advantages of it for the getting or encreasing an Eftate; for this is the Thing to which our Thoughts are commonly first directed, as looking upon it as the Foundation of a happy Life in this world.
But here I desire not to be mistaken ; I would not be thought to deal with you, as one of our ordinary Empiricks, that promises many brave Feats in his Bill, which are, indeed, beyond the Power of his Art; I do not pretend that Wealth and Opulency is necessarily entailed 'upon Religion ; 10. that whoever is goud shall presently be enabled to make Purchases, and to leave Lands and Liyings to his Childfen. Riches are one of those Things that are not so perfectly in our Power, that all Men may hope for an equal Share of them. The having more or less depends often-times not so much upon curselves, as upon thac Condition
and Quality in which we were born, the Way · and Course of Life into which our Friends put
uş; and a Hundred accidental Circumstances to yliich ourfelves. contribute nothing. But this I say, supposing the virtuous Man, in equal Circumstances with others, supposing him to stand upon the same Level, and to enjoy, the fame fortuitous Hits, and external Concurrences that they do, and he shall by many odds have thé Advantage of thein for thriving and improving in the World in any Condition of Life whatsoever. ; Ca r i
So that, fo far as the getting of Riches depends, upon Human Endeavours; so far as it is an Ait, and falls under. Precepts and Die
rections; rections; no Man alive can propose a better Expedient in order thereto, than a serious Practice of Religion. - To make this good, let it be considered, that as to the Means that do in a more direct and immediate: Manner influence upon the getting or improving an Estate (I speak of General Means, such as are of use in all Conditions of Life; for to meddle with the Myiteries of any particular Art or Trade, is not my Purpose, as, indeed, it is beyond my Skill:) as to such Means as these, I say, none can prefcribe more effectual than these Four. - 1. Prudence, in administring our Affairs.
2. Diligence, in that Vocation wherein God i hath placed us. ' .-3. Thrift and good Husbandry. ,.-4. Keeping a good Correspondence with : those in whose Power it is to hinder er .: promote our Affairs. .. · If now it do appear that Godliness doth highly improve a Man in all these Four Refpects; if it can be fhewed, that all these Fruits naturally grow and thrive better in a Religious Soil than any other, it will evidently follow, that supposing these above-named Means do indeed contribute to the making of á Fortune, (and if they do not, no Man knows what doth; and we strangely abuse our Friends and our Children, when upon that account -we recommend them to them) it follows, I fay, that a Life of Godliness is a mighty Ad-. vantage to a Man, for the Purposes I am speaking of.
i Da - And
And First of all it will be easy to fhew, that Godliness doth above all Things tend to make a Man wife and prudent, skilful and dexterd ous in the Management of his Affairs of what Nature foever. For it doth very much clear and improve a Man's Understanding, not only by a certain natural Efficacy it hath (as I shall shew hereafter) to purify the Blood and Spirits, upon which the Perfection of our intellectual Operations doth exceedingly much depend ; but also by difpelling those adventitious Cloud's that arise in the discerning Faculty from the noisome Fumes of Lust and Passion.
All Vice in the very Nature of it, depraves and distorts a Man's Judgment, fills our Minds with Prejudices, and false Apprehensions of Things; and no Man that is under the Doninion of it can possibly have such a frec Use of his Reason as otherwise he might; for he will commonly see Things, not as they are in themselves, but in those Disguises and false Colours which his Passion puts upon them : Upon wlich account he cannot avoid but he will be often imposed upon, and commit a Thousand Errors in the Management of his Affairs, which the virtuous Man, whose Rcaton is pure and untinctur’d, is secured from. It cannot be imagined, that either he should forciec Events 10 clcarly, or 1py Opportunitics fo sagaciously, or weigh 'Things fo inl. partially, or deliberate fo calmly, or transact to cautiously, as thc Man that is free from those mainifold Preposseslions which bis Mind is fraught with.