Puslapio vaizdai

us, Prov. xiv. 13. Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful ; and the end of that mirth is heaviness: such, indeed, is the mirth of all wicked men: let them dissenible it never so artificially, yet they do but, with the Spartan boy, laugh and smile, while the fox, which he had stolen and kept concealed under his coat, was all the while tearing out his bowels: so these put on a counterfeit laughter, when yet, all the while, guilt and fear, terrors and anguish, are corroding and gnawing their very bowels.

So that hence you see, the sadness and mournfulness of the true pious Christians is but a conceived prejudice, no real objection against the ways of religion and holiness.

IV. “ But, what !” you will say, " is there then nothing unpleasant, nothing grievous and irksome in them? Can it be possible that this strait and narrow way should have no thorns, no rubs in it; nothing that is rigorous, severe, and uneasy? What then shall we think of mortification, and self-denial; of plucking out our right-eyes, and cutting off our right-hands; a patient enduring of injuries, and requiting them with kindnesses; forgiving our most malicious enemies, and praying for them; a willingness to sacrifice our dearest enjoyments, yea our lives themselves, for the name of Christ, and the testimony of a good conscience? Are not these main and essential parts of our religion? And is there nothing in them, that is difficult to be done, and grievous to be borne ? If not, why then are we so often commanded to strive, to watch, to fight, to wrestle, to run, to endure and hold out unto the last ? all which expressions do certainly import, that there is much pains and hardship to be undergone in a Christian Life; especially also since it is represented as such a difficult and admirable thing to persevere in it unto the end. What pleasure can there be in crossing a man's own inclinations and appetites ? in the self-cruelty of cutting off what is as dear to us as the limbs of our body? What pleasure in losing all for the sake of our religion? in rotting in a prison, or frying at a stake? What pleasure in bearing affronts and contumelies, without either reply or revenge? Certainly, he, who can find out pleasure in these things, is fit to advance what paradoxes he pleaseth to the world; but will be much puzzled to find either reasons to maintain them, or persons to believe them."

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Some of the greatest pleasures of this life are so; and that is scarce held to be a pleasure, which is not heightened and commended by labour. The pleasantness of religion and piety consists not in supine sloth and negligence: there must be earnest endeavours, strivings and strugglings to the uttermost. To a generous mind, as a Christian's is, nothing can be more pleasant than victory and conquest; which cannot be atchieved without contending for it. The whole life of a Christian is a continual warfare. Now that, which makes the name of war so dreadful, is only the uncertainty of success : who is there so cowardly and faint-hearted, that, were he sure of victory and triumph, would be afraid of the encounter? Why, victory itself is listed under a Christian's command. Other conquerors have found it very fickle and inconstant: when they have levied armies and shaken nations, yet they could never make success take pay under them. But herein a Christian is more than a conqueror, because he is always sure of conquest, if himself will. And, whensoever we go forth to the combat, if we be not extremely base and perfidious to our own souls, we may be sure to return adorned with wreaths and loaden with spoils. The mortification of our lusts is confessedly the most uneasy, as it is the most necessary part, of our religion: and, yet, what are they but shadows cast upon your fancies, flitting, airy, and empty nothings? We are to conflict with our own desires, our own passions, our own wills; and what more is required to a conquest over these, besides a firm and undaunted resolution? That man shall certainly be master of himself, who will but dare

What though it may cost pains and striving; though it

may make the heart pant, and the soul run down with sweat : yet to see your enemies fall by heaps before your sword, to tread upon the slain, and to dip your foot in their blood; this certainty of conquest will make the combat pleasant, though it be laborious. And he, who cannot think this an incomparable pleasure, hath not spirit enough to be a Christian.

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ii. Since all pleasure ariseth from the suitableness of objects and actions to our natures, we must consider that THERE IS A TWOFOLD NATURE IN EVERY CHRISTIAN, HIS CORRUPT AND HIS DIVINE NATURE.. · He is not all of a piece, but hath two contrary parties struggling within him. There is the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and what is pleasing to the one, is a vexation and torment to the other. Now all those rigorous duties of religion, which have been objected, are only so to thy corrupt and sinful inclinations ; but they are a joy and pleasure to thy renewed and sanctified nature. Thou must therefore, of necessity, grieve and displease one part of thyself; and why then should it not be that, which is thy vile and sordid part? Give thy noble and heaven-born self the pleasure and divertisement of thwarting and overruling thy sensual desires. Yea, this indeed, if thou art a Christian, is thy true and proper self: the other is but thy slave and vassal. Grace is that, which gives a Christian his individuation and denomination; and the new and divine nature, of which thou partakest, ought to be the commanding principle within thee, as, being a participation of God; and therefore cannot, without the highest practical blasphemy, be subjected to thy lusts, and corruptions, which are the portion of the Devil. And therefore the Apostle distinguisheth between his unrenewed part and himself: Rom. vii. 17. It is no more I.....but sin that dwelleth in me. So that those, which are accounted the greatest rigours and severities of religion, and and which fright so many from embracing it, are really the pleasures and entertainments of a pious soul. Yea, I will be bold to say, that a true Christian more indulgeth himself by mortification, more gratifieth himself by denying himself, enjoys more true pleasure and satisfaction in those things which are looked upon as the austerities of a holy life, than all the voluptuaries of the world can, in abandoning themselves over to all the profuse delights of a sinful and wicked life: for, even where there is no true grace to make a conquering resistance, yet there is a natural conscience to make a murmuring and a troublesome one: all the disturbance, that a true Christian finds, is only in the conflict, and, when that is ended, he sits down and enjoys the blessed fruits of his victory in peace and satisfaction; but in wicked men, the pleasure of sinning makes many sour returns upon them, and there are not only some stings mingled with their honey whilst it is yet in their mouths, but afterwards it turns all to sting in their consciences and gall and wormwood in their bowels. Now let me leave it to you to judge, which enjoyeth a more pleasant and quiet life; they, who cross their corruptions, and afterwards rejoice that they have done it; or they, who cross their consciences, and are afterwards vexed and tormented for it: the one, indeed, conflicts with his lusts, and buffets his slaves when they rebel against him; but, afterwards, finds that peace and joy, which more than compensate his labour: the other conflicts with his light; and, after he hath offered horrid violence to his natural sentiments, is tormented with such pangs and horrors, that he becomes a burden and executioner to himself: and this puts him upon


greater abominations, that he may quite extinguish that glowing spark within him; that he may murder that troublesome monitor, his own conscience, and, if it be possible, may attain to the highest perfection, both of his pleasure and misery, even to sin quietly.


Indeed, those, who are early pious, whose virtue groweth up and increaseth with them from their tender years, escape the pangs and molestations which others endure, in rooting out inveterate habits and changing the whole course of their lives at once. It must needs appear irksome, at first, to check those inordinate desires and to put a stop to the current of those vices, . which have got authority by prescription, and never knew what it was to be opposed or denied before. But, whatever difficulties we may find in this, they ought rather to be imputed to the novelty and unusualness, thạn to the real hardship of the undertaking. And, perhaps, were a man resolved, from a longcontinued and habituated virtue, to turn debauched and profli. gate, he would, at first, find not much less trouble in the ways of vice, than a new convert meets with in the ways of piety. Custom and continuance will facilitate all things : and, when the roughness which is upon the soul is well worne off by use, it will the more easily and sweetly move itself in a strict and religious


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Nay, many times the sinner meets with far more trouble ir the ways of sin, than the most strict and holy Christian can do in the ways of obedience. What strange artifices and intricate methods must he oftentimes use, sometimes to commit his sins, but most commonly to conceal them! it requires a piece of subtlety and stratagen to be wicked. Whereas piety is an open, plain, and simple thing: we need not lay plots for it, nor study to find out the methods of it: there needs no other skill, besides an honest heart and a firm resolution: and therefore it is said, Isa. xxxv. 8. A highway shall be there....and it shall be called The way of holiness : the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. Nay, were we but content to undergo as much hardship and difficulty in the ways of religion, for the obtaining of heaven and eternal happiness; as the men of this world do, for the gaining of some poor, sordid, secular advantages; we should be most unreasonable to complain of them as rough and uneasy. What Christian is there, that takes so much pains to be saved, as many thousand artificers do, who drudge day and night at some poor manual employment to get' a little pelf? and yet it is far more certain, that an industrious Christian shall be saved, than that an industrious tradesman shall grow rich. Men are contented to rise up early and to go to bed late, and to eat the bread of carefulness, to bear many disappointments and undergo many hardships, only in hopes to gain some temporal advantage: and yet they murmur and complain of it as an insupportable burden, if they are put upon any difficulties for the gaining of heaven and eternal salvation; although the gain of this latter be as infinitely more certain, as it is infinitely more precious than the gaining of the former. So that, in truth, all the complaints against the rigours of religion proceed only upon mistakes and prejudices; and there is no course of life, shape it which way you will, that hath so much ease, sweetness, and delight in it, as the truly pious and holy.

Let me then persuade you, not to give ear to the lying suggestions of the Devil and your own sloth. They are but slanders cast upon the ways of God, on purpose to deter you from walking in them. Do but make the trial: enter upon them, and

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