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“ above the common Principles of worldly “ Wisdom, and above the rate of cominon « Examples?
Now truly if no such Effects and Alterations be wrought in us by our Religion and Worship, all that we have left to commend US to God is a Form of Godlinefs, which tho' it may help to deceive others, and our selves most of all, yet God will not be deceived or imposed upon. God is not mocked, for he is ī Spirit, and they that worship bim, must worship him in Spirit and in Truth.
Of Right Intention.
MATTH. VI. xxii, xxiii. The Light of the Body is the Eye:
If therefore thine Eye be fingle, thy whole Body Mall be full of Light
. But if thine Eye be evil, thy whole
Body shall be full of Darkness. I'I
T is manifestly the Design of our Saviour;
in that part of his Sermon on the Mount with which this Chapter begins, to teach uş the Necessityof a Right and Pure Intention in all the Good that we do. And the particular ill End he would have us avoid in any Kind of well-doing, is Vain-glory. And the good A&tions he particularly mentions, bidding us have a care that we spoil them not, by propounding such an End to our felves in the
doing thereof, are these, Alms, Prayer, and Fafting. His Doctrine is against Vain-glory particularly in the beginning of the Chapter, because it was a great Vice of the Hypocrites of the Age; and he instances in the three popular Duties, because those Hypocrites so notoriously served their vain-glorious Ends by them. But then it is very plain that our Saviour's Dissuasive from Vain-glory was meant by hiin for an Instruction to us to beware of any other bad Ends, especially of worse Ends than that mentioned. For Instance, if we are not to fast to be seen of Men, much less are we to faft for Strife and Debate. If we are not to pray for the Praise of Men, much less are we to make Prayers to devour Widows Houses, as some of thofe Hypocrites did. So likewise these three, Alms, Prayer, and Fafting, our Saviour in the first Verses of the Chapter puts for all Actions materially good. "And what he would teach us is this, that we are to be careful not to lose the Reward of those Religious Performances, or of any other our good Deeds, either by a vain-glorious Meaning, or by any corrupt End whatsoever. Upon which Part of our Saviour's Sermon we may therefore justly ground this Do&rine, that except we be Right in our Intentions as well as in our Actions, we can
not approve our felves to God here, nor expect his Rewards hereafter.
And our Saviour in the Text seems to go on with the same Doctrine ftill; and I think the Words ought to be interpreted and explained accordingly: The Light of the Body is the Eye: If therefore thine Eye be fingle, thy whole Body shall be full of Light. But if thine Eye, be evil
, thy whole Body shall be full of Darkness. That is to say, what the natural Eye is to the whole Body in Case of Sight or Blirdness, the Body being enlightned or all in Darkness according as the Eye is, that the Intention of Mind and Heart the Eye of the Soul is to all the materially good Actions of a Man, as it renders them either valuable or worthless, rewardable or incapable of Reward. This I take to be the true Sense of the Place:
Wherefore in the handling this point of Doctrine I shall discourse in this Method.
1. I shall shew the Neceflity of an honeft and good Intention, or of propounding a good End, in order to the pleasing of God, and obtaining his Rewards.
2. I hall lay down those Ends of Actions, for the Matter of them good, which Christianity requires us to intend.
3. Shall enquire whether the mixing of any other Ends with these destroys the Goodness of our Intention ?
1. As to the Neceflity of propounding good End. I think I need not labour much to shew that, it being very plain that no Work, how good loever it be in it felf, makes a Man acceptable to God, or rewardable with him, if a Right Intention be wanting. But however there are these Reasons of it, which I think fit to insist on.
1. The Choice of an End is the chief Privilege and Excellency of our Nature above that of Brutes, and therefore the Intention which we proceed upon, and our being moved by an End that we design, is that which properly makes our Actions Human A&tions, and principally distinguishes thein from the A&ions of Beasts; which inakes it plain that the Intention of a Man in the End be propounds is of great Consideration in the whole Action, and that he is good or bad himself chiefly upon the Account of those Reasons by which he is moved and governed; and if it be the Choice of an End that distinguishes a Man from a Beast, it is the Goodness or the Badness of the End that has the chief Stroke in distinguishing a good Man from a bad Man.
2. It is moreover plain that the Ends which we propound to our selves do engage our Wills and Affe&tions far more than the Means which we use to accomplish them, and therefore those Actions, how good soever, which we use as Means to an End, do not so