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selves upon having somewhat which Others have not, argues a great defect in that very thing we have ; and Thews, that, what we esteem good, is not so, except in Opinion and Comparison only. This is the Case of Riches, and Honours, and the Rest of our Worldly Advantages. These would cease to be remarkable, and sink very low in our Esteem; if all Mankind were partakers of them, in the fame Degree with our selves. And this, I say, shews, that there can be nothing, or very little of true Excellence, in that Object, which recommends it felf, not so much from our own Plenty, as from Other Peoples Penury and Want. For, whatever is real Happiness, hath a sort of Sufficiency in it self; and cannot depend upon such mean and ill-natur’d Considerations, as the Defects, or the Misfortunes of our Brethren. These are proper Subjects for our Pity and Compassion, but cannot be warrantable grounds of Pride and Triumph to any truly Good Man. Now the being the Mother of our Blessed Saviour, is what all One Sex are absolutely debarr’d from ; and what all the Other Sex but One, are utterly incapable of too. And it would argue God a very strange, and partial, nay a very Cruel Being, if he should have created so many Millions of Men and Women, and yet have provided so fenderly for them, that Only One Person, among that infinite number, should be able to attain the greatest Honour and Happiness, that Human Nature could ever aspire to. But Virtue and Religious Wisdom lie open, and in common to all. Every Man, with the ordinary Asistances of Grace, and his own faithful Endeavours, may get this Blessing into his poffeffion. And no Man is the less Wise, or the less Holy, for Another's being so; but finds an Addition to his own Happiness, and a sensible Joy, in that of Others. The more diffusive this is, the greater it is ; And, if it were Universal, it would be greater still. Which shews, that this is an Happiness
rooted in the nature of the thing, not precarious and depending upon Fancy and meer Notion; that this is an Extensive Good, fit for a Bountiful God to propose, and worthy of a Reasonable Man to pursue.
Secondly, No other Happiness is properly Our own. We neither give, nor can continue, any thing else to our selves; but This is strictly Ours, and a Joy that no Man taketh from us. The Virtue of a Child, or of a Parent, is Ours only by Reflection ; and That, but a very weak and distant one too. The praise of it is not due to our Selves, but to Him ; And they are His Excellencies, not Ours, that we please our selves with. The Image indeed comes back to us, and we take a pleasing view of it, as of our Faces in a Glass; But neither the Light, nor the Substance, that makes the Image, are in the Glass it felf. This is only the Instrument of Reflecting it back again, and contributes nothing to the Beauty of the Face. Thus all, that we can pretend to, is, that Providence hath been kind in making us some way Instrumental, towards the fhewing such Goodness to the World. But still we must remember, that this Goodness is not ours, but Anothers. The Enjoyments of the present Life are the Gifts of Fortune ; And when we have them, they lie at the Mercy of every capricious Turn of Fortune, to snatch them from us again. We did not bestow them upon our selves, and we cannot preserve them one Moment, but by the permission of the Donor. But Virtue and Religion are properly Ours. These are not our Fate but our Choice; the Work of our own Minds, and the Treasures of our own getting. No Circumstances, tho' never so fortunate, can put them into our possession ;. none tho' never so miserable, have the power to deprive us of them. We need only be kind to our selves, and we hall certainly have them; And we must conspire against our felves, if ever we lose them. And sure that Happiness deserves
1 Tim. iv. 8.
upon a Rock.
to be valued above All others, which is left at our own disposal. So easy to be attained, that nothing can hinder or disappoint Us in the pursuit; and so durable and certain, that nothing can impoverish us, or cut off our enjoyment of it.
Thirdly and Lastly, The hearing and keeping of God's Word must needs be the greatest Blessedness, because This, as St. Paul expresses it, hath the promises both of this Life, and that which is to come. As well may we expect Brightness without Light, or Heat without Fire, as Felicity without Virtue. It is not in the Nature of the Thing, it is not in the wife Ordinance and Appointment of God. In the present Life, be that beareth Christ's Matth. vii. 24, sayings, and doth them, is called the house 25. built Rock. Because This is the only thing, that can keep such a one from being the Sport of Fortune, and secure his Happiness against all the spight and uncertainty of a dangerous and unstable World. The Winds may blow, and the Waves beat and roar, but they only break themselves; and will never be able to move, or wash him off from his firm Foundation. And, for the Next World, all our hopes turn upon this and such like gracious Declarations, be that beareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me,
John v. 24. hath everlasting life, and shall never come into Condemnation, but is passed from death unto life. That the blessed Virgin is honourable among the Saints above, the Christian Church hath always thought it reasonable to believe. But the cause of all this Honour, by all who have thought wisely of the matter, is not imputed to the bearing of our Saviour, in which she was purely passive; so much as in that Innocence and Piety, which was her own Act, and rendred her meet to be chosen for the Mother of God.
All I shall add, upon this Occasion, is a serious Exhortation, That Men would learn from hence, where 3
Ec. X. 20, 22, 24.
their Happiness lies, and pursue it accordingly: That they would consider the Honours due to Virtue and Goodness, and secure these to themselves. How should we despise the mean and trifling Advantages of this present World, in comparison of this only true and valuable one? Or, if we will still be fond of Greatness, and Wealth, and Places of Authority, let us not suffer our Eyes to be dazled with a false and empty shew, but covet that, which is substantial Honour. And, where this is to be had, the wise Son of Sirach hath instructed
us, Among Brethren be that is chief is ho
nourable, so are they that fear the Lord, in bis Eyes. Whether a man be rich, noble, or poor, their glory is the fear of the Lord. Great-men, and Judges, and Potentates, Mall be honoured, yet is there none of them greater than he that feareth the Lord. If we will still admire a noble Descent, and value our selves upon great Families, and being Allied to Royal Blood; let us at least improve this Vanity, by turning our Eyes another way, and take care to contract the closest Relation to the King of Kings. For the Lord of Lords, and the
supreme Prince of Heaven and Earth hath Matth. xi. 50.
said it, that whosoever does the will of bis Father, the same is his Brother, and Sister, and Mother. O incomprehensible Honour of Faith and Obedience! O Blessed Consanguinity! To be born of God, and to bear and bring forth the Lord Jesus in our Hearts: To express his Image in every Thought, and Word, and Action ; and, to be our selves conformed to him, partakers of his Holiness, and his Crown. For the being thus his Brethren, and Children of God, is no empty Honour, no swelling sounding Name, but gives a sure Title to his
Royalties and Poffeffions too. For if Sons, Rom. viii, 17.
then are we heirs, heirs of God, and coheirs with Christ : Inheritors of a Kingdom, a Kingdom not like the perishing ones, that sodazle our Eyes here upon Earth, but One unspeakably bappy and full of Glory, that fadeth not away for ever in the Heavens.
The Fourth Sunday in Lent.
Rant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that We who
for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished,
by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved, through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen,
The E PISIL E.
Galat. iv. 21.
PARAPHRAS E. ELL me, ye that desire to be under the 21. You that are so Law, do ye not bear the Law ?
zealous for the Law,
will do well at least to attend to the Arguments, which even the Law furnishes, for the Point I am debating.
22. For it is written tbat Abraham bad two sons, the 22, 23. Now there one by a bond-maid, the other by a free-woman.
you find that Abraham 23. But be, who was of the bond-cvoman was born had Two Sons, of Moafter the flesh; but be of the free-woman was by pro-. thers of different Conmije.
ditions ; and the man
ner of his having them was different. For the Bond-woman's Son was, like common Children, the Effect of natural Vigor : But the Free-woman's Son was promised, as an extraordinary Blesling, to Persons naturally incapable of having any.
24. Which things are an Allegory: For these are the 24., 25. Now under two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gen- this historical there is a dretb to Bondage, which is Agar.
mystical mcaning. For 25. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and ana the Two Covenants are fwereth to Jerusalem wbicb now is, and is in bondage typified by these Two with her cbildren.
Mothers. The Law gi
ven in Sinai, a Place out of the Land of Promise, (fitly resembled by Agar, as in the Language of that Country bearing the same Name) is fignified by rigar, whose Children ( as their Mother was ) are Bond-fervants : And thus it agrees with the present I crusalem on Earth, and the servile Condition of the Jews.
26. But Jerusalem which is above, is free, which is 26, 27. But the heathe motber of us all.
venly Jerufalem, relem27. For it is written; Rejoice thou barren that beareft bied by Sarah, is free: not; break fortb and cry, tbou that travaileft not, for the From hence the other desolate bath many more cbildren, than she wbich barb an Covenant came, and this bufoand.
is the Mother of Chri
ftians every where. The Numbers of whose Children Isaiah foreseeing, calls upon her, notwithstanding her former Barrenness, to rejoice in a Family, larger than others, who bore sooner, could boast of,