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view of the whole world, to the sight of men and angels. And how will the man that hath only a form of godliness, without the power of it, be then
ashamed and confounded!
They are great and weighty words, which the divine author of the Epistle to the Hebrews delivers in this case, chap. iv. 12, 13. For the word of God (i. e. the personal Word or Son of God, as appears from the sequel) is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
Let us not therefore acquiesce in a bare form of godliness, let us never be at rest till we have attained to the power of it. And to assure ourselves of this, let us carefully shun and avoid the sins and vices noted in the persons described by the apostle, and let us practise the contrary virtues.
Let us not be lovers of ourselves, i. e. self-seekers, without a due regard to the glory of God and good of others; but let us make these our chiefest aim and end; for thereby we shall be the truest lovers of ourselves.
Let us take heed and beware of covetousness. It is the repeated caution of our Saviour. Let us covet earnestly the best things; let us seek first the kingdom of God, &c. Matt. vi. 33.
Let us lay aside all pride and vainglory, and be clothed with humility. 1 Pet. v. 5.
b [See Waterland's Works, vol. III. p. 154.]
Let us avoid all unworthy notions, thoughts, and speeches of the great and glorious God, and speak reverently of those men that represent him.
Let us be obedient to all our superiors, whether natural, civil, or ecclesiastical.
Let us be thankful to God for his mercies, and to all men that are our benefactors.
Let us love all men, but especially let us be tender to our natural relations.
Let us to our power be faithful keepers of all promises we make to our neighbours, especially in matters of right and justice.
Let us take heed of all calumny and slandering of others, and speak evil of no man unnecessarily.
Lastly, and above all things, let us pray most earnestly for the love of God, the prevailing love of God, the love of God above all things. That we may see the perfect vanity of all other things, how short our enjoyment of them will be, how little good there is in them, and how infinitely good and excellent a being God is, and may therefore set our hearts upon him, and choose him for our everlasting portion.
These are the virtues, opposite to those vices, which the apostle notes as repugnant to the power of godliness. In the practice of these, the power of godliness consists, and without them, no form of godliness will avail us at the great day of accounts.
Now to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honour and glory, adoration and worship, both now and for ever. Amen.
A PROSPEROUS CONDITION IN THIS WORLD IS A BLESSING OF God, wherEIN WE NOT ONLY MAY, BUT OUGHT TO REJOICE, SINCE IT IS GIVEN US BY GOD AS A PECULIAR TIME OF COMFORT AND REJOICING.
ECCLES. vii. 14.
In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.
THOUGH it be very hard in divers places of this book of Ecclesiastes to find out the connection of one sentence with the other; yet here a probable account may be given of the coherence of my text with the preceding verse. For therein the Wise Man exhorts us to consider the work of God, i. e. his work of providence, as by the whole context we are led to understand the words; to consider that God works still by his providence, and what he works; and he tells us, that upon this consideration, we shall be forced to say, Who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? i. e. God's providence is uncontrollable, and those evil afflictive things that happen to men in the world by his will cannot be avoided; those crooked things that are so
[From the manner in which king Charles II. is mentioned, towards the end of this Sermon, it would appear to have been written after the death of that king.]
to us, that bend and turn from the way and course designed and desired by us, are directed by God, and what he will have thus crooked, who can make straight? To the same sense the Wise Man speaks, chap. i. 14, 15. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and behold all is vanity and vexation of spirit. That which is crooked cannot be made straight.
Upon this consideration, the Preacher in my text exhorts us all to attend to the work of God's providence in the various occurrences and dispensations thereof, whether prosperous or afflictive, and to accommodate and apply ourselves to them accordingly. In the day of prosperity, &c.
In the handling of which text I shall follow my usual method, first throughly to explain it, and then to raise some practical and useful observations from it.
In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider. In the Hebrew i1ą, in the good day, or the day of goodness, i. e. in the day or time when the good things we desire happen to us. So the phrase is often used in Scripture; see particularly 1 Pet. iii. 10. He that will love life and see good (i. e. happy and prosperous) days, let him refrain his tongue from evil.
Be joyful. In the Hebrew
thou in good. The Septuagint renders it 0 év åyalã, live in good. The vulgar Latin more clearly, fruere bonis, "enjoy thou the good things," which God hath given thee, with complacence and delight in them. But in the day of adversity. In the Hebrew in the evil day, when afflictive and evil
things happen to thee. This is the known sense of the phrase of evil days in Scripture. So Gen. xlvii. 9. Jacob expressing to Pharaoh the troubles and afflictions of his past life, saith, Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been. So the Wise Man again in his book of Ecclesiastes, chap. xii. 1. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them. Where the days of old age are called evil days, because they are generally attended with sickness and infirmities, and other evils both of body and mind.
In the day of adversity consider. In the Hebrew
see thou, consider well the circumstances thou art in, and the duty incumbent on thee; think in what condition thou art, and what thou art to do in that state.
But must we not consider also in the day of prosperity? Must we then lay aside our reason and consideration, and drown ourselves in sensuality? God forbid. I shall shew you anon the necessary cautions and considerations we are to make use of in the day of prosperity.
But in the day of adversity we are especially concerned to consider, and to consider in a more especial manner. This is a season wherein divine Providence more loudly calls us to consideration, and to a deeper consideration. We have a like text to this in the Epistle of St. James, chap. v. 13. Is any man among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Shall we hence conclude, that we are to pray only in the time of affliction? This were an absurd and wicked inference. с с 4