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DISCOURSE XXXIX.

GALATIANS vi. 9.

And let us not be weary in well doing : for in due seafor

we shall reap, if we faint not. THE text, and other like passages of Scripture, are founded in this known truth, that God does not ordinarily dispense the rewards and punishments due to virtue and vice in this life ; but that he has appointed another time and place, how far distant we know not, in which all accounts shall be set right, and every man receive according to his works. What force the objects of sense have upon the minds of men, how far they outweigh the diftant hopes of religion, is matter of daily experience. The world pays presently;

pays presently; but the language of religion is, We shall reap, if we faint not. It may be thought perhaps, that it would have been better for the cause of religion, if the rewards of it had been immediate, and more nearly related to our senses ; and, the case being otherwise, proves in fact | a great prejudice to virtue. But, if we can take leave of our imaginations a little, and attend to reason, we shall see, that this dispensation of Pro

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vidence was ordained in wisdom. Were the case otherwise; were men to receive a due recompence of reward in this world for the good they do, there would be no reason why they should grow weary

int well doing, no cause for their fainting under the work, which would so abundantly and immediately repay all their labour and pains.

It is natural for men, when they have before their eyes flagrant instances of wickedness and impiety, to make a secret demand upon God in their own hearts for justice against such notorious offenders. If their demands are not answered, (and they rarely are, but the wicked continue to flourish, and the good to suffer under their oppression; they, rightly judging that they were mistaken in their expectations, and not rightly judging where to charge the mistake, are apt to conclude, that they have cleansed their hearts in vain, and in vain have they washed their hands in innocency.

Whenever the hopes and expectations are raised beyond all probability of being answered in the event, they can yield nothing but uneasiness, anger and indignation against the course of things in the world : and yet, who is to blame? Not he that appointed this natural order, but he who understood it so little, as to expect from it what it was never intended to produce. Would you pity the husband

you see him lamenting his misfortune, because he could not reap in spring, when all the world knows the time of harvest is not till summer? The case is the same in all other instances : if men anticipate the reward of their labour by the eagerness and impatience of their hopes, they will be

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disappointed indeed; but not because their labour is in vain, which in due time will bring its reward, but because their expectations are vain and unreasonable, and outrun the order of nature, which cannot be transgressed.

You see then of what consequence it is to us rightly to balance our expectations, and to adjust them to that natural course and order of things, which Providence has established in the world. We may easily lose the fruit of our well-grounded hopes, by giving ourselves up to the delufion of false ones. If we grow fick of our work because our untimely wishes are disappointed, we shall forfeit the reward which patient continuance in well-doing would, in the natural course of things, bring with it. And this I take to be the foundation and ground of the Apostle's exhortation in the text, Let us not be weary in well doing : for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

It is no uncommon thing, I know, to press men to a virtuous behaviour, in prospect of the rewards which such a behaviour is entitled to in this world ; and there is, as well experience, as scripture, to justify the so doing : for, if peace and tranquillity of mind here, and hopes full of comfort with respect to hereafter, are ingredients in human happiness ; and surely they are the greatest ! these are to be had, and only to be had, from a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man. But this argument is so little concerned with the external good and evil of the world, that it is applicable to men of all fortunes and conditions. Thus we preach to the prince, and thus we preach to the meanest of his subjects : one cannot enjoy his greatness, nor the other bear his distress, without those supports, which innocence and virtue can only administer. The pleasures of life are a joyless fruition to a mind fick of guilt ; and the evils of it are too sharp to be endured by a wounded spirit.

Thus far we tread safely in promising a present reward to virtue; we exceed not the order appointed by God, who, if he has given us some defires, which, in our present state of degeneracy, often prove temptations to iniquity, has given us also so much reason and understanding, that we cannot be wicked and happy in ourselves at the same time : how much farther than this we may go, shall presently be considered. But if men, when they hear of an happiness due as the reward of virtue in this life, will conceive hopes of obtaining honour, power, and riches from God in recompense of their obedience, they raise an expectation which was never yet generally answered, and, I suppose, for very good reasons, never will; and whilft they pursue this shadow, they are in great danger of losing the substance, the real reward of obedience, which shall one day be bestowed on all, who can be contented to wait for glory and immortality.

To clear this point will be well worth your attention. In order to it we must inquire what reason or authority we have to assert the interposition of Providence in the private affairs of men, with a view of proportioning to their virtue or vice proper rewards and punishments.

If we view the whole frame of the world, and consider the great laws of nature by which it is,

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and has for ages paft been, preserved in order and beauty; we can no more queftion its being sustained by a constant and immediate influence of God's providence, than we can of its being at first brought into order by him. If we consider ourselves, and how we live, move, and have our being, it is evident, that we are upheld every moment by the hand of God. I speak, and would be understood to 'mean, literally. If there be any thing in the compass of our knowledge certain, it is this, that we owe our life to that power, by the influence of which the functions of life are performed : search diligently for this power, and you will not fail of finding God. If any man be otherwise ininded, let him account for the first principle of motion in animal bodies, and he shall have leave to doubt of all the rest. But this is not our point: the question now is, finĉe God has made man a reafonable creature, and endowed him with a liberty of acting, how far he has thought fit to leave him to his liberty, and to give him up here to the issues and consequences of his own doings ? Of his power we doubt not; we know he can overrule every action of man, and every thought of his heart : our search is not what he can do, but what he has been pleased to do, and what method he has prescribed to himself, with respect to the actions of men, and the consequences which flow from them in this life. To come at any knowledge in this case there are but these three ways; to consider what reason requires, what experience teaches, what Scripture confirms.

Let us confider' what reason requires. It has

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