« AnteriorContinuar »
farer Foundations for Pleafures, and a happy Life, than the Man that by indulging his Lufts and Vices, only breeds up a Snake in his Bosom, which will not cease to sting and gall him beyond what a Tongue is able to express, or a witty Cruelty to invent.
Fourthly and Laftly, Besides the Benefits of Religion for removing the Hindrances of our Pleasures ; it also adds to Humane Life a world of Pleasures of its own, which vicious Men are utterly unacquainted with.
And these are of so excellent a kind, so delicious, so enravishing, that the highest Gratifications of Sense, are not comparable to them. Never 'till we come to be heartily Religious, do we understand what true Plessure is. That which ariseth from the grateful Motions that are made in our outward Senses, is but a faint Shadow, a mere Dream of it. Then do we begin to enjoy true Pleasures, indeed, when our Highest and Divinest Faculties, which were wholly laid asleep, while we lived the Life of Sense, begin to be awakened, and to exercise themselves upon their proper Objects; when we become acquainted with God, and the infinite Abyss of Good that is in him; when our Hearts are made sensible of the great Love and Good-will he bears us; and in that Sense are powerfully carried out in Joy, and Love, and Defire after him. When we feel the Divine Nature daily more and more displayed in our Souls, shewing forth itself in the blessed Fruits of Charity, and Peaceableness, and Meekness, and Humility, and Purity, and Devotion, and all the other Graces of the Holy Spirit. It is not possible, but that such a Life of this, must needs be a Fountian of inexpressible Joy to him that leads it, and fill the Soul with transcendantly greater Content than any thing upon Earth can possibly do: For this is the Life of God, this is the Life of the Blessed Angels above, this is the Life that is most of all agreeable to our own Natures. While we live thus, things are with us as they should be; our Souls are in their natural Posture, in that State they were framed and designed to live in: Whereas the Life of Sin, is a State of Disorder and Confufiona perpetual Violence and Force upon our Natures. While we live thus, we enjoy the Pleasures of Men, whereas before when we were governed by Sense, we could pretend to no other Satisfactions, but what the Brutes have as well as we. In
In this State of Life, we gratify our Highest and Nobleft Powers, the intellectual Appetites of our Souls; which as they are infinitely capacious, so have they an infinite Good to fill them : Whereas in the sensual Life, the meaneft, the dulleft, and the most contracted Faculties of our Souls, were only provided for.
But what need I carry you out into these Speculations, when your own Sense and Experience will ascertain you in this Matter above a Thousand Arguments? Do but seriously set yourselves to serve God, if you have yet never done it, do but once try what it is to
live up to the Precepts of Reason, and Vertue, and Religion ; and I dare confidently pronounce,
will in one Month, find more Foy, more Peace, more Content, to arise in your Spirits, from the Sense that you have resisted the Temptations of Evil, and done what was your Duty to do, than in many Tears spent in Vanity and a Licentious Course of Living. I doubt not in the least, but that after you have once seen, and tafted how gracious the Lord is, how good all his Ways are, but you will proclaim to all the World, that One Day Spent in his Courts, is better than a Thousand : Nay, you will be ready to cry out' with the Roman Orator (if it be Lawful to quote the Testimony of a Heathen, after that of the Divine Psalmist) that One Day, lived according to the Precepts of Vertue, is to be preferred before an Immortality of Sin.
You will then alter all your Sentiments of Things, and wonder that you should have been lo strangely abused by false Representations of Vertue and Vice. You will then see that Religion is quite another Thing, than it appeared to you, before you became acquainted with it. Instead of that grim, lowre, unpleasant Countenance, in which you heretofore painted her to yourself, you will then discover nothing in her but what is infinitely Lovely and Charming. Those very Actions of Religion, which you now cannot think upon with Patience, they seem so harsh and unpleasant, you will then find to be accomVOL. I.
panied with a wonderful Delight. You will not then complain of the Narrowness of the Bounds, or the Scantiness of the Measures, that it hath confined your Desires to; for you will then find, that you have hereby gained an Entrance into a far greater and more perfect Liberty. How ungentilely, How much against the Grain of Nature foever it now looks to forgive an Injury, or an Affront, you will then find it to be as far more easy, so far more sweet than to revenge one.
You will no longer think Works of Charity burthensome or expensive; or that to do good Offices to every one is an Employment too mean for you; for you will then experience, that there is no Sensuality like that of doing Good; and that it is a greater Pleasure to do a Kindness, than to receive one. How will
How will you chide your self for having been so averse to Prayer, and other devout Exercises, accounting them as tiresome unsavory Things, when you begin to feel the delicious Relishes they leave upon your Spirit? You will then confess, that no Conversation is half so agreeable as that which we enjoy with God Almighty in Pray. er; no Cordial so reviving as heartily to pour out our Souls unto Him. And then to be affected with his Mercies, to praise and give Thanks to him for his Benefits, what is it but a very Heaven upon Earth, an Anticipation of the Joys of Eternity ? Nay, you will not be without your Pleasures, even in the very Entrance of Religion, then when you ex
ercise Acts of Repentance when you mourn and afflict yourself for your Sins, which seems the frighfullest thing in all Religion. For such is the Nature of that Holy Sorrow, that you would not for all the World be without it, and you will find far greater Contentment and Satisfaction in grieving for your Offences, than ever you did receive from the committing them.
But, О the ineffable Pleasures that do continually spring up in the Heart of a Good Man, from the Sense of God's Love, and the Hope of his Favour, and the fair Prospect he hath of the Joy and Happiness of the other World ! How pleasing, how transporting will the thought of these Things be to you! To think that you are one of those happy Souls, that are, of an Enemy, become the Friend of God, that your Ways please him, and that you are not only Pardoned, but Accepted and Beloved by him? To think that you a poor Creature, who were of yourfelf nothing, and by your Sins had made yourself far worse than nothing, are yet by the Goodness of your Saviour, become so considerable a Being, as to be able to give Delight to the King of.the World, and to cause Foy in Heaven among the Blessed Angels by your Repentance : To think that God charges his Providence with you, takes Care of all your concerns, hears all your Prayers, provides all Things needful for you, and that he will, in his good Time, take you up unto himself, to live everlasting