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delicates where the hatred and wrath of God mingle gall and wormwood with them. What pleasure can there be in any estate, where a man is not well pleased with himself? where guilt gnaws, and fears bode, and conscience brawls, as certainly they must do, more or less, in every wicked man? What more pleasure can he take in his possessions, than a wretched male. factor can in thạt prison-provision, which is allowed him to maintain his life, till he be dragged forth to execution?
But, though Godliness doth thus sweeten our outward state and condition, and is profitable for this present life; yet,
iii. The chief joys, which religion and piety give us, are INTERNAL and MENTAL; and those are incomparably beyond the delights of sense.
Even natural speculations have entertained inquisitive minds with such raptures, that some have been, as it were, wholly abstracted from the body; and have neither regarded pain nor pleasure of sense, whilst they have been employed about them. But, certainly, the joys of religion must needs be much more refined and spiritual, than those, which proceed only from a problem or demonstration of science.
II. Now this pure and spiritual pleasure ARISETH IN THE MIND FROM THREE THINGS:
The Conformity of pious actions to the Rules and Prin,
ciples of right Reason. The peaceable Reflections of a man's own Conscience
The Hope and Expectation of an eternal Reward.
i. There is A CONGRUITY AND SUITABLENESS IN HOLY AND RELIGIOUS ACTIONS, TO THE RULES AND PRINCIPLES OF RIGHT REASON.
There are Three general principles of Natural Religion im, printed in the mind of every man, which are the dictates of pure
and untainted reason.
revelations of his will to be credited and obeyed. That we ought to govern ourselves with all temperance
and sobriety, in the use of the comforts of this life.
That we ought to demean ourselves towards others, with
the exactest justice and equity; the true measure of which is, Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto
you, do ye likewise unto them. This, indeed, is the sum of all religion : To live, as the Apostle declares it, soberly, righteously, and godly : soberly, in respect of ourselves; righteously, towards others; and godly, in the performance of those duties, which immediately concern the divine worship. And these are the general and primary dictates of right reason.
Now, as it is impossible, but that, where a suitable object strikes and affects the sense, there must arise sensual and corporeal delight and pleasure; so is it alike impossible, but that, where our actions do correspond with these principles of reason, there must arise an intellectual joy and complacency. No man ever took true joy and delight in doing that, which is unnatural: and, truly, every sin is, in a sense, unnatural, as it contradicts those principles of natural light and understanding, which God hath so deeply implanted in us, that they can never be totally rooted out. And therefore there must needs be jarring and discord in the mind of a wicked man, whose actions are contrary to those first principles of bis reason, which he always opposeth, but can never overcome: and this, of necessity, must make his life very uneasy and uncomfortable. Whereas a holy man, who squares his actions according to his principles, finds such a just proportion between them, that there is no dissonance, no contest; but the sweet touches of them mutually, one upon the other, strike a perpetual harmony in his soul; and the result of this, must needs be peace and pleasure.
ji. Unspeakable pleasure must needs spring up in the soul, FROM THE COMFORTABLE REFLECTIONS OF OUR OWN CONSCIENCES UPON HOLY AND RELIGIOUS ACTIONS.
Be the difficulty of performing them never so great, yet this joy, which diffuseth itself in the heart after we have broken through all the reluctancies and oppositions that our corruptions, our sloth, or our worldly advantages make against them, doth more than compensate the pains and trouble which we have undergone. There will, indeed, in this our imperfect state, be strivings and lustings of the flesh against the Spirit, even in the best of men: but yet, certainly, the delight, which the soul enjoys after it hath conquered its sinful inclinations, is, infinitely
beyond all comparison, above the delight which it could have reaped by consenting to them. What a calm and sweet repose is upon the face of the soul, after it hath performed a duty, and can reflect upon it as performed sincerely! after it hath wrestled with a temptation, and overcome it! how sweetly then doth he enjoy himself! how sweetly doth he enjoy his God! his prospect into heaven is clear; and he can discern a pleased God, a loving Father accepting his service and preparing his reward. Let others please themselves in the bitter sweets of sin; yet, certainly, the least relish of such pure, such unexpressible joy, is infinitely to be preferred before all the washy pleasures of vice and luxury, though conscience and condemnation were abstracted from them. Here, believe it, is true joy: it is not clamorous not noisy ; but a calm sedate joy, that ravisheth the heart with secret but powerful delight. The pleasures of sin are but for å moment; like the empty crackling of thorns under a pot, that make a short-lived blaze, and presently expire in smoke: but the pleasures of holiness are permanent and abiding; and entertain the soul with a most delightful remembrance, whensoever it shall look back and review its actions. This is a pleasure, which never cloys, never tires us : neither can the frequent repetition, nor the long continuance of it, weary us": whereas all earthly pleasures grow either dull or distateful, if they are not often changed. But a pious soul need not invent variety of diversions, to entertain himself comfortably: let him but look within doors, retire into his own breast, and he shall there find abundant joys, which, though they are still the same, are ever fresh. But, this self-reflection, which is so sweet and comfortable to a true Christian, is a rack and torture to wicked and dissolute wretches: they carry a hated monitor about them in their own breast, a witness and a reprover of all their lewdness; and, when they seek for pleasure in sinning, it is their trouble and vexation that they cannot sin more quietly: there is a busy conscience of their own, which dogs them at the heels wherever they go, scourges them with scorpions, and threatens them with the vengeance of everlasting fire: and this embitters their delights; and, though it cannot withhold them from sinning, yet makes their very sins their punishment and torment. So that, if it were only upon the account of the reflections of conscience, a holy and pious life is infinitely more pleasant, than a lewd and wicked one,
ii. THE HOPE AND EXPECTATION OF THE ETERNAL REWARD OF OUR OBEDIENCE, makes a holy life to be pleasant and joyful. : The Psalmist tells us, that, in the keeping of God's com. mandments there is great reward : Ps. xix. 11. Our very work is reward for itself; and, if God should never give us other, yet we should be abundantly recompensed in the inward peace and satisfaction of our consciences, which can no other way be enjoyed: yet our gracious God both gives us such work as is reward for itself, and promiseth us an infinite reward for doing that work. Were there really as many difficulties in religion as our sloth is apt to imagine; yet, methinks, when such an excessive recompence as that of eternal life and glory is propounded to us, this should remove all obstacles, facilitate all enterprizes, and make the utmost pains and labour to attain it, pleasant and delightful. We see with what pleasure men strive and contend for a prize: the poor pitiful reward of a mouthful of praise, or the gain of some honorary trifle, makes them account that but a sport and recreation, which else were a toil and difficult labour. And, what! shall we, who are running a race in the ways of true wisdom, and see the crown of glory and immortality hung up at the goal, faint and shrink at it as an uneasy and laborious task, to intend our nerves, and to press still on towards the mark ? Certainly, there can be no greater pleasure in the world than to strive in this race, to gain ground towards heaven, to make and to observe our progress in our holy course, to have the crown still in our eye till we come at last to reach it with our hand. And he, who camot account this pleasant, hath not a soul capable of true delight, nor a spirit brave and gallant enough to be a Christian.
Thus I have demonstrated to you, that the pious is the only pleasant life, both from the Suitableness of it to the principles of our Reason, the comfortable Reflections of our Consciences, and the Hopes of Eternal Life.
Let me add one Demonstration more,
iv. That must needs be most pleasant, which CALMS ALL OUR PERTURBATIONS AND DISTURBANCES, AND FITS US TO ENJOY BOTH GOD AND OURSELVES IN A SEDATE COMPOSURE.
But this is the effect, only of religion and true piety. Our. disquiets proceed chiefly from the hurries of our mutinous passions: grief, anger, fear, and the rest, do oftentimes break
forth upon the soul, like so many violent winds upon the sen, and ruffle it into a tempest, so that our reason is in danger to be tossed and shipwrecked. Now it is only the powerful command of religion, which can say unto these winds, Peace, be still. Certainly, that man can neither enjoy peace nor pleasure, where these' unruly passions tyrannizę: what a troublesome, vexatious life doth he lead, that is a slave either to envy, or fear, or wrath! when he shall be continually fretting himself at another's prosperity, raging and studying revenge for every petty injury, grieving and desponding under every cross providence, frighted beyond the succours of his reason at every shadow and suspected danger! certainly, if there can be any pleasure in such a man's soul, there may be pleasure and peace where fury dwells. But, religion, and the fear of God, settles and composes all these perturbations : and, by its majesty and authority, binds them all to the peace; so that we shall not dare immoderately to grieve or fear, nor at all to envy or meditate revenge. And, although the curbing of our passions seems so difficult a matter; and is one of those things, which make religion uneasy and unpleasant to those, who are wrapped away with them: yet, without doubt; he, who checks and restrains the exorbitancies of his passions, lives a much more pleasant and easy life, than he, who lets them fly out into all extremities. I leave it to you to judge, whether it be not more for the peace and comfort of a man's life to forgive wrongs, than to perpetuate them by revenge. Besides the intolerable torment of a malicious spirit, is it not far better to rejoice at thy neighbour's prosperity, than to vex and fret at it ? for, by the one, thou enjoyest a share of his blessings; but, by the other, thou dost not enjoy thine own. And, to resign up thyself to the will of God with patience and contentedness, suppressing thy immoderate grief for any affliction brought upon thee, is certainly much more for the comfort of thy life, than to languish in sorrow, and unfruitfully to consume thyself for what was not at thy dispose. So that, I say, religion is the best means to quiet all the tumults of your passions, and to make your minds serene and calm : than which there is scarce a greater pleasure imaginable.
See here, then, the woeful mistake of the world, in point of pleasure. They all pretend to it; but they seek it in those ways, which are the causes of all their disquiet and trouble. True pleasure consists not in noise and laughter: that is the mirth of