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dren wicked and miserable, notwith , standing all the means they shall have used to make them otherwise ; for they will then have the consolation to reflect that they are clear from the guilt of their children's sins; and will be free from those bitter self-reproaches that a wicked man must feel, who sees his children ruined by those vices and follies, which his example hath taught them, or his carelessness and neglect occasioned them to fall into. Bitter reproaches, I say, those must undoubtedly be, which such a parent will make to himself, when he considers, that he has his children's sins, as well as his own, to account for; and applies to himself, (as he justly may) those dreadful words which God spake to the prophet Ezekiel : When I say unto the wicked, thou shalt surely die, and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hands. Ezek. iii. 18. O terrible words of most just judgment! How dreadful
must they sound in the ears of a wicked parent; whose children have perished through his fault !
I have now considered some of those duties to which Religion obliges us; and endeavoured to shew how conducive they are to our temporal happiness: by wlich, I hope, it sufficiently appears, how much good men have the advantage of the wicked even as to this world. And here I cannot but take notice of the wonderful love of God to inaukind, who in order to encourage our obedience to his laws, has annexed a present, as well as future reward, to a good life ; and has so interwoven our duty and happiness together, that, while we are discharging our obligations to the one, we are, at the same time, making the best provision for the other.
How much then do they dérogate from the honour of God, who represent the precepts of Religion as an unprofitable and unpleasant task! when it is plain to any man that considers things rightly, and is not under the prejudice of his lusts and passions, that
the great design of Religion is to make us happy here, as well as hereafter. Accordingly, all its rules and precepts are so admirably suited to this end, that, would men be persuaded to live in the practice of them, we should find this world á kind of heaven upon earth.
But, had the practice of our duty been ever so irksome and uneasy, and had nothing but trouble and inisery been the lot of good men in this world ; yet, when we consider, that this life will shortly have an end, and that there is an eternal weight of glory reserved in heaven for those that truly love and serve God; what wise man would not prefer the rugged paths of virtue and Religion, which he knows will shortly lead him into an eternity of bliss and happiness, 10 the ways of sin and wickedness, (how pleasant soever he might find them) where he is in danger every moinent of falling into the pit of destruction, and which, he is sure, will, in a little time, bring him into a place of endless misery and tor. ment?
But, since there is nothing in Religion but what tends to make our lives easy, cheerful, and contented; nothing but what is suitable to our na-tures, and agreeable to the dictates of right reason; nothing but what will ennoble our minds, enlarge our understandings, and inspire us with a generous principle of universal love, and charity, and good-will, to mankind; in short, since the commands of God are not grievous, but his yoke is easy, and his burthen light; it manifestly follows, that, as a good life is the highest wisdom, so a wicked one is the extreme of folly and madness.
O Most gracious God! who; out of thy great love and tender regard for mankind, has set before us life and death, blessing and cursing; and hast endued us with a freedom of will, and liberty to choose the one, and avoid the other; and,' to encourage us to make a right choice, hast annexed a
present, as well as future reward to our obedience to thy laws, and 'made the
ways of Religion, ways of pleasantness, and all its paths to be peace; O give me wisdom and understanding, that I may not be carried away by the deceitful pleasures of this world; but may see, and know, and choose, the things which make for my peace, and wherein my true and only happiness doth consist.
Convince me more and more, that sin is the greatest of all evils; that yuilt and misery are always insepaable: and that there is no other solid and substantial happiness to be attained in this life, but that which results from the testimony of a good conscience, and the hopes of thy favour and acceptance.
Grant that these momentous truths may be so deeply impressed upon my mind, that I may make it the sincere endeavour of
my whole life to please and obey thee, who art my sovereign good and bappiness; the only sure foundation of all my hopes both here and hereafter; and in