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here in a state of exercise ; therefore we must not be with-held ab extra, nor restrained from doing worse as well as better, which would wholly take away all poffibility of merit or demerit : but yet nothwithstanding, God doth what becomes infinite goodness, what is answerable to the relation he stands in to his creatures ; he doth what will consist with the plot and design of his creation ; to which it is diametrie cally opposite, fo far to interpose, as to hinder by force and violence his intelligent and voluntary creatures.
If we apprehend thus concerning God, that he is a lover of fouls, and will do that which becomes infinite goodness, that he will fully answer the relation he stands in, to bring us to good, to guide and teach us here, and finally advance us to perfeétion and happiness ; this i
is the first thing in religion, and
upon this all other is built : if this fail, the whole frame of religion will fall to the ground.
2. The second thing that is indispensably neceffary, is, to live in love and good-will. For malice and a mind to do mischief, are devilish things. It is the devil's character, 1 Pet. v. 8. who goes about, seeking whom he may devour. This is exemplified, fully verified, and made to appear in the case of Job, how diligent satan was to take an advantage: and when he had leave, how did he pursue his commission to the utmost extent thereof; and make him as miserable as he could be, life only preserved, in which he was restrained. But on the other side, divinum eft fuble. vare, gratificare, benefacere. It is divine and God-like to relieve, ease, and help men that are in misery, to gratify and to do good. They that are of this tem
per, they do resemble God. All good natures take pleasure in doing courtesies; and they take so much content in doing kindnesses, that they think themselves beholden to the persons that do receive, and are ready to acknowledge an obligation upon them, if a person will receive from them, and be obliged. On the other side, bad natures will neither oblige any one by courtesy, neither will they be beholden to any. Whereas in the intention of God that made man, the second should be for the help and benefit of the first; not another absolute, not another for himself, but in order to the first. It is not good for a man to be alone ; a help meet for him ; the second had special reference to the first ; therefore two are better than one, because of supply and readiness to help. Moreover, man is a creature that is furnished with inftruments for this purpose ; as I will instance in one ; wherefore is speech, but for communication? What ule hath a man of speech, which is his great power, wherein he excels the whole creation below him, but for the use and benefit of others ? A man needs it not for himself ; for man might live upon his own notions, enjoy his own conceptions, without it; he hath no use of it for himself, neither doth he need it in refpe&t of God, because he may perform all devotion to God by motion of his mind. There need not be other than inental devotion, if we were not to worship God in a conjunction of worship publickly and for others : wherefore speech (which is the great instrument of man, and next to his understanding,) is given to him in order to others. The worship of God is mental as to God, but oral is out of respect to others, where others join.
3. The third great thing in religion and matter of conscience, is to do justly, equally, fairly. Every one looks for it himself, and complains if he finds it not. Why then should we not afford to all other men the usage we expect from others? They that do not do thus, they do take a course, what in them lies, to turn the world into a wilderness of cruel beasts and favages ; whereas man, if he be as he should be, and as God made him, is a mild, gentle, loving, calm and conversible creature. If any man be otherwise, he is a monster, he is degenerate ; for as God made him, he is a loving creature, delighting in conversation, as ready to give as receive ; free to communicate and receive from one another, is the law of our converse. Whosoever doth not find this true of him. felf, he may conclude he is degenerate, he is a monfter in specie ; and monsters in nature are not more prodigious, than these are upon a moral account; and it is a vain thing, to put it off, as some think, to nature, we cannot lay the fault upon our nature, but charge it upon abuse of ourselves, bad custom and naughty practice, this is that which hath made us such as we are ; nct that we were born so, but have made ourselves so. Ill dispositions are acquired by ill use of ourselves, and become settled by repeated acts and customs ; for we all have ourselves as we use ourselves; we may be ashamed to own ourselves to be born in the species of mankind, if we cannot say this of ourselves, omnia in me funt subjecta rationi, there is nothing in me but what is subject to reason, and what is governed by it; and I allow myself in nothing but what ought to be. I am as God made me, a loving, gentle, calm, quiet be
ing, fit for converse, fit to give as well as receive, to make due returns and acknowledgments, to live in a fair converse with my fellow-creatures. If it be not so, I am a monfter, and I may be ashamed to own myself a man. For surely he is not worthy the denomination of a man, who cannot verify this of himself, that all things in him and belonging to him, are governed by the judgment of mind and understanding; and mind and understanding informed by the reason of things.
If this were our case of being in the world, then every one of us might know what he had to do in the world, and of what he might be sure, and how far he might trust; but through favagencfs and unrighteous dealing, it is quite otherwise ; whereas it should be one man in God's flead to another, it is de fac. to, homo homini lupus, one man a wolf to another. Just as the prophet expresses it, Jer, ix, 4. Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother, for every brother will utterly supplant ; they will deceive every one his neighbour. This de facto, though by right it should be quite contrary ; this is our great deformity, this is iniquity : God intended it to be otherwise, but it is thus in the commonwealth of degenerate mankind, and in the converfation of apoftates; but in the heavenly quire, it is as I report God meant it.
4. The fourth and last indispensable in our religiçn, is to moderate ourselves in the use of the conveniencies of this state, according to the measures of fobriety, chastity and temperance; we must eat and drink, and make use of all other conveniencies of
life, that we may live ; that is, preserve health and strength, but not live, to eat and drink, &c. for the end must always regulate, determine, and limit the mean ; and he who doth not observe this rule, but transposes mean and end (which is the most strous thing in the world) is an apoftate from reason, and offers violence to his own nature, and takes up the very foundation of God's creation. For God made him an intelligent agent, and he is fo far from being a christian, that he leaves not himself the being of a man ; for how can he be accounted a rational agent, who in the way of sensuality hath confounded the reason of his mind, hath spoiled the principle which constitutes him a man, has introduced a privation of his proper excellency, and destroyed the form which doth dare fpeciem, determine to the rational kind ; which makes as great a change, and is as great a loss, as when a living body "doth become a dead carcase : for the body doth not make the man, but the mind; and he that is alive, and out of the use of reason by his own disorder, is in a worse condition than if he were dead ; for he is alive to his own shame.
And thus I have declared the great matters of religion ; which are things co-æval, connatural with the very being of a man ; which man cannot be released from, unless God turns him out of his kind ; the great principles of conscience, the things we should be zealous for : but the mischief is, we take off our zeal from these unquestionable and indubitable things, and we run out in nicėties and particulasitics ; which is a great mistake and shame to us.