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SERMON XIV. The Practice of Wickedness generally attended with great Evil.
Prov. xiii. 21.
teous, Good shall be repaid.
verseness of the Jews, in find-m B
i ng fault equally on Both sides ;
both with Yohn Baptist's more Severe, and with our Lord's own more free manner of Conversation in the world ; may be applied generally to almost all the
S er m.Objections, which wicked and profane XIV. men at any time make against Religion,
No Reason, No Argument, No Method of Proceeding whatsoever, will fatisfy prejudiced and corrupt Minds. John the Baptist came, neither eating nor drinking ; Matt, xi. 18. That is, He, when he was sent to preach, came folitary in the Wilderness, with great Austereness and Severity of Life, with Fasting and Abstinence, with Mortification and Self-denial ; and they said, he is Mad, and hath a Devil. On the contrary, Christ came to preach without this Austerity, in a more free way of Conversation ; and they called him a Loose Person, a Glutton, and a WineDrinker, and a Companion of the worst of men. Upon This their Perverseness our Lord compares those Jews to froward and peevish children, who do every thing contrary to what their Companions desire and expect: Ver. 17; We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented: When others play and are cheerful, they will be fullen and ill-humoured; when others be sorrowful, they will laugh
and mock. But, after the Perverseness of Ser M. Men has said and done all that it can ; , XIV. Wisdom, says our Lord, is jusified of all ber children; Wisdom will still vindicate itself, and appear to be Wisdom, in whomsoever it be found, and in what manner soever it be exercised.
The Case is the Same in almost all other Instances, wherein prejudiced and corrupt minds are continually seeking Objections against Religion; Objections, cona trary to and inconsistent with each other. Does Providence at any time bestow remarkable Blesings; upon virtuous and good men? Immediately from hence an Argument is drawn against Virtue, as if it loft the Nature of Virtue, and became mercenary, by having respect unto the recompence of Reward. Most elegantly is This Objection set forth, in the first chapter of the book of Yob; where Satan is represented as arguing before the Lord; ver. 9; Doth
fob fear God for nought? Hast not thoie made an hedge about him, and about his bouf, and about all that be hath on every fide? Thou bast, blessed the work of his bands, and his substance is increased in the Vol. VI. Y
Ser M. land. But put forth thine kand now, and
thee to thy face.
On the contrary; Does Providence forbear to interpose in the present time, and reserve Judgment to the day of Retribution? Then the Argument is turned ; and the Speech of the Scoffers is, Where is the Promise of his Coming ? For since the Fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the Beginning of the Creation; 2 Pet. ii. 4: Then they fay, It is vain to serve God; and what Profit is it, that we have kept his Ordinance ? Mal. iii. 14: Then they ask, What is the Almighty, that we jould serve him? and what Profit should we have, if we pray unto him? Job xxi. 15. . - THE Anfwer to Both, is easy and obvious. God's Forbearance at any time to interpose in the present State on the behalf of Virtue, is no Argument at all against the Benefit and Advantage of Serving him; because he is able to make abundant Recompence in the Life to come : Upon which account, excellent is the Advice of Solomon, Prov. xxiii. 17; Let
not thine heart envy Sinners, but be thou Ser M. in the Fear of the Lord all the day long : XIV. For furely there is an end, (or, as we render it in the margin, surely there is a Rea ward,) and thine expectation mall not be cut off: And on the other hand, the Rewards and Punishments which God distrie butes either in the present or in a future state, do not at all alter the Nature of Virtue, or make it in Any degree become mercenary: Because a Man's Regard to his own Interest and Advantage is Then only Faulty, when it is a Temptation to him to do any thing that is in its own nature Evil ; not when it is in conjunction with the universal Right and Reason of things, and the Happiness of God's whole Creation.
My Design at This Time from the words of the Text, is to represent and inculcate this great Truth, that the Practice of Righteousness is mens true Interest, even in the present Life ; and that Wickedness is generally attended with Great Misery, even Here as well as Hereafter. Evil pursueth Sinners; but to the Righteous, Good shall be repayed.