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in the words cited just now, “God is the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe.” 2. It ought to be owned, that the great promise of the gospel is eternal life, or happiness in a future state, the life which is to come, as it is expressed in the text. “And this is the promise that he has promised us, even eternal life,” 1 John ii. 25. Again, “And this is the record, that God has given us eternal life; and this life is in his Son,” ch. v. 11. And to the like purpose many other texts of the New Testament. See 2 Tim. i. 1; Tit. i. 1–3; Heb. viii. 6. 3. Nevertheless there are under the gospel dispensation promises and assurances of comfort, peace, and happiness to good men in the present world. Says our Lord, “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth,” Matt. v. 5. Arguing against solicitude for the things of this present life, he says: “Therefore take no thought,” that is, be not anxious, “ saying, what shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or wherewithal shall we be clothed ? For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you,” Matt. vi. 31, 32. And, “every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life,” Matt. xix. 29. Or, as in another gospel, “shall receive an hundred-fold, now in this present time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come, eternal life,” Mark x. 30. And when he forewarned the disciples, that “in the world they should have tribulation,” John xvi. 33, he sufficiently assured o that through him they would have peace and comort. 4. But yet neither the law nor the gospel makes promises and assurances of remarkable prosperity and greatness to all good men in this world. R. much wealth, or great honour and respect from men; but rather only a competence of good things, favour and esteem with good men, and those among whom they live. This seems to be what our Lord means, when he says, all these things, food and raiment, before spoken of, shall be added unto you. Nor is it any thing more that is promised in the Old Testament. So particularly in the thirty-seventh Psalm, a remarkable portion of scripture, with regard to this point. “Trust in the Lord, and do good. So shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed,” Ps. xxxvii. 3.− “For the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace,” ver. 11. –“I have been young, and now am old : yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread,” ver, 25. And at the sixteenth verse of that psalm, “A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked.” Which is entirely conformable to what our Lord observes: “A man's life consisteth not in the abundance which he possesseth,” Luke xii. 15. And considering the snares and temptations of this present world, some wise men have chosen a competence as the most desirable condition, preferable as to want, so also to abundance. Says Agur: “Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me; lest I be full and deny thee, and say, who is the Lord? or lest I be oor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain,” rov. xxx. 8, 9. 5. Some inequality and diversity of circumstances, with a variety of afflictions, is not unsuitable to the present state and condition. In this world the nature and constitution of all men is frail and mortal; it is a state of trial not of recompense. All therefore must unavoidably be liable to some, yea to many inconveniences, troubles, pains, sorrows, and disappointments. And all without exception must in the end submit to the stroke of death. Good men, as well as others, may meet with trials and afflictions. It is the necessary consequence and result of the present frame of things. It cannot be otherwise, without a continued series of miraculous interpositions, and overthrowing the present course of nature, and turning this world, which appears to be a state of trial, into a state of remuneration o reward. Good men being mortal as well as others, they are liable to various bodily weaknesses and indispositions, to pining and tedious sicknesses, and even to i." exquisite and tormenting pains. And they may be tried . exercised with other disasters and afflictions, the death of children or other relatives and friends; at other times, by the unkindness and sad miscarriages of those whose spiritual and eternal interests are most precious and desirable to them. In such a world as this, wherein all are frail and mortal, where there are different characters, wise and foolish, good and bad; where there are different tempers and dispositions, where there is much peevishness and perverseness, as well as mildness and compliance; there will be a great de... of uneasiness and unhappiness, and a very considerable d' 'ersity of circumstances. Some bad men may attain to abandance of outward grandeur and worldly prosperity, and some good men may be depressed, . and ill-treated. At the same time considering, that neither the affliction of the one, nor the prosperity of the other can last always; and that neither condition is unmixed, and entirely throughout uniform and of a piece, the inequality is not vast. For in much outward prosperity, the most established and secure, there will be cares and fears, and there may be stinging reflections. And in afflictive cases there are usually some intervals of ease, some alleviations and abatements of pain and grief, some refreshing supports, cordials, and consolations.
Which leads us to observe farther :
6. Piety has many advantages relating to this present life, and good men have grounds of support and comfort in every condition: whereby the “promise of the life that now is,” is fulfilled and made good to them.
But the farther consideration of this point must be deferred to another season.
THE PROMISE ANNEXED TO GODLINESS.
For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. I Tim. iv. 8.
I HAVE already shown what we are to understand by bodily exercise, and that godliness has promise of the life which is to come. III. The third thing is, that “godliness has promise of the life that now is.” And for illustrating this point, several observations have been mentioned. 1. It is certain that the Divine Providence is over all his works, and that God has an especial and more favourable regard to righteous and truly good men than to others. 2. It ought to be owned, that the chief promise of the gospel is eternal life, or happiness in a future state.
3. Nevertheless there are under the gospel-dispensation promises and assurances of comfort, peace, and happiness to goo. men in this world. 4. But yet neither the law nor the gospel makes promises and assurances of remarkable worldly prosperity and greatness to all good men in this world. 5. Some inequality and diversity of circumstances, with a variety of afflictions and troubles, is not unsuitable to the present state and condition. 6. Piety has many advantages relating to this present life, and good men have grounds of support and comfort in every condition; whereby the promise of the life that now is, is fulfilled and made good to them. This was just mentioned the last opportunity. And it is the main point, which is now to be made out by us. And I presume, that all may by this time be sensible of the reasonableness of the method in which we have proceeded: first insisting upon the promise of the life wo is to come: inasmuch as that promise, and the hope of future eternal life, cannot but be an immediate source of comfort and joy. And without that promise and hope, the practice of virtue, and the profession of truth, if possible, would in some cases be extremely difficult and uncomfortable. For what should induce men to hazard all their present interests for the sake of truth? With what satisfaction could an upright friend and patron of religion and virtue resign this present life, and submit to and undergo a painful death for the sake of truth, if there were no life to come where some recompense may be received 3 In showing, then, the advantages and comforts of piety here, and its promise of the life that now is, the promise of the life which is to come must be supposed, and taken for granted, or well proved : as indeed it is a certain truth, or faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation. In making out this point I intend to insist on the several following particulars. We will compare the condition of good and bad men in this world. In the next place we oft observe some temporal advantages which piety will be attended with, and may be the means of. It also secures from some temporal evils and troubles; and finally it affords comforts and enjoyments which are not to be had without it. 1. Let us compare the condition of good and bad men in this world. For possibly, if we do so, it may appear, that the irreligious, who mind nothing but the affairs of this world, have seldom even now, upon the whole, any great advantage or superiority above the truly good and virtuOus. It is true, there are some instances of bad men, or of such as concern themselves about nothing more than a form of godliness, who have a great deal of outward worldly prosperity; and there are some good men in very low and mean circumstances, who meet with a great deal of worldly trouble and affliction; but it is not always so; neither do all bad men prosper; nor are all good men in adversity. Success does not always attend unrighteous or hypocritical men in their unrighteous designs. If they are unsuccessful ; if they are disappointed in their aims and pursuits, how distressed then is their condition how great their grief and vexation; which a good man avoids, or very much moderates upon like occasions. Supposing the covetous and ambitious to prosper, and obtain the advantages they aim at; still those advantages are exceeding uncertain and vain. They cannot afford a great deal of satisfaction. For they are accompanied with cares and fears, and may be all lost. If they are not lost, they must be soon left ; how soon, man knows not. “Riches,” as the wise man observes, “ certainly make to themselves wings; they flee away as an eagle towards heaven,” Prov. xxiii. 5. And, says the Psalmist, “Man that is in honour abideth not,” Ps. xlix. 12. There is no stability in earthly things, and but little satisfaction to be had from them whilst they are possessed. How unsettled, for the most part, is the condition of those who are in places of honour and preferment! How numerous and how watchful are their enemies and opposers' For which reason fears and jealousies oftentimes perplex and torment the minds of those who are in the most exalted stations. And though men are much advanced, the greater power, honour, and splendour of some others may occasion envy, pining, grief, and vexation. Whilst men have many and great advantages, and almost every ingredient of worldly felicity, some one trouble or affliction, or a restless desire of some one thing still wanting, may imbitter every enjoyment. There is not, then, any thing very tempting in the most splendid circumstances of bad men. 2. It should be considered, that there are many temporal worldly advantages, which do usually attend the practice of piety, and which it is the means of Sobriety and tem