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Serm. I. thing out of the usual Road, he overleaps
those Bounds, which confine meaner Mortals, and precipitates himself into an endless Train of Inconveniencies.
But let us suppose, what is not a very common Case, that a Brightness of Imagination, and a well-poised Judgment, are happily united in the same Person; yet the ablest Writer, the brightest Genius, the greatest Man that ever lived; nay, an Archangel of the highest Class may fay, “O my God! " that I live and that I please, if ever I
please, is owing to thee. May it be then
my uppermost View to do thy Pleasure, “ From whom I have the Ability to please!"
How vain and uncertain all Things are here below, appears from this, that we hold even Reason itself, that ennobling Quality, that boasted Prerogative, and distinguishing Perfection of human Nature, upon a very precarious Tenure ; and something, as one expresseth it, with a human Shape and Voice, has often survived every thing human besides. The Brain, by too great Quickness and Stretch of Thought, like a Chariot Wheel, by the Rapidity of it's Motion, takes Fire ; the thin Partitions, which divided Wit from Madness,
are broken down. The most penetrating Serm. I. and sparkling Geniuses border upon, and sometimes more than border
downright Frenzy. They, thew us even then, in their lucid Intervals, the Monuments and Traces of what they have been, like the Monuinents of old Rome, majestick even in it's Ruins. · Their fudden Starts of Sense, though soon broken off, give us more Pleasure, than the sober uniform Thoughts of Men of nower Apprehension : Just as the maimed Statues, the broken Pillars, and imperfect triumphal Arches of old Rome, delight us more, than the entire Performances of less able and less masterly Hands.
If then Reason itself, which distinguisheth us from Brutes, be so very precarious, and depends upon such a fine and subtle Contexture of the Brain, as is liable to be disordered by several Accidents ; the Observation I would draw from hence is very material, and worth our Consideration: If Mankind were to be vain of nothing, but what is their lasting Property, of which they cannot be stripped ; they would be vain of nothing at all; there would be no such thing as Vanity.
Art thou then proud of Knowledge ? Alas! the dim Light of human Reason looks feeble and languid at the first Thought and Contemplation of that Father of Lights, in whom there is no Darkness at all. Doft thou pride thyself upon thy Power ? All the little Grandeur we can boast, is loft in the Confideration of that only Potentate, wbo dwelleth in Light which no one can approach to. Art thou elate
the Account of an ample Fortune ? Consider him to whom the whole World belongs, and all tbat is therein ; who wanting nothing himself, supplies the Wants of every other Being. All human Pride shrinks into nothing, when we contemplate that great Being, who is All in All. And the Man, who is posfest with just Notions of an all-perfect God, will never make a God of any thing else, much less of himself.
Dost thou value thyself upon popular Applause, and a great Name? Think how many that have made a distinguished Figure in the World, are dead and unregarded, as if they never had been ; their Deaths unlamented, their Vacancy filled up, and their Perfons miffed no more, than a Drop of Water, when taken from the whole Ocean. And is it worth our while SERM. I. to strive to please a vain fantastic World, which will soon disregard us, and think itself full as well without us ; instead of laying out our Endeavours to please that Almighty Being, whose inexhaustible Power and Goodness will make his Servants happy to all Eternity ? How ridiculous are all our Aims ; except this be the grand Aim, , in which all the rest center ! A Man, for Instance, makes it his Business to enfure to himself a Name after Death; that is, to save four or five Letters (for what is a Name befides ?) from Oblivion: And yet shall be neglectful of securing immortal Happiness: He shall be fond of an imàginary Life after Death: and yet make no Provision for that real Life, which is to last for ever and ever ; folicitous to have his Name written and preserved in any Book, but in that Book, where it will only be of Service to him, the Book of Life. O Virtue! when this solemn Pageantry of earthly Grandeur shall be no more, when all Distinctions, but oral and religious, shall vanish; when this Earth shall be disfolved, when the Moon shall be no more a Light by Night, nor the Sun by Day;
Serm. I. thou shalt still survive thy Votary's immor
tal Friend, thou shalt appear, like thy great Author, in perfect Beauty; thy Lustre undiminished, and thy Glory unperishable.
Let him therefore that glorieth, glory in the Lord. He alone, who gave and upholds all the Powers of Soul and Body, he alone deserveth the Glory of them.
As we are Creatures, the Work of God's Hands, we have nothing to glory of: But as we are Sinners, and, in that Respect, the Work of our own Hands, we have much to be ashamed of. We then give the greatest Proof to God of our Worthiness, when we have a deep Senfe, and make an hunible Confeffion, of our own Unworthiness.
To God therefore, and to Him only,
be ascribed, as is most due, all Might, &c.