Page images
PDF
EPUB

Happiness. But in Order that such our Dependance may be well grounded, we muft in the

2d Place be careful to preserve a good Conscience through the regular Discharge of our Duty.

CHEARFULNESS is the regular Attendant upon Innocence ; Virtue and Joy do naturally subsift together ; Guilt is dark and gloomy, filling the Soul with all the dreadful Apprehensions of whatever is odious and miserable. God, who is the Foundation of all folid Comfort, is here rejected, and all Pretensions to the favourable Regard of his Providence, are given up; and without God, Chearfulness would be utter Folly, Laughter direct Madness. The Joy of a wicked Man, is as the Crackling of Thorns in the Fire ; bowever it may blaze for a Time, it foon evaporates into Smoak, and is at best but noisy Vanity; in the midst of such Laughter the Heart is forrowful, and the End of such Mirth is Heaviness.

But the Joy of a good Conscience is a continual Feast; The calm Composure of secure Innocence, the pleasurable Sense of virtuous and religious Actions, fill the Heart with Complaisancy, enlarge and replenish the Soul with Satisfaction. The Applauses of a self-approving Mind are always enlivening and refreshing ; Virtue knows no Tumults and Disorders ; It gives us a grateful Reflection

upon

whatever is past, a peaceful Enjoyment of whatever is present, a delightful Prospect of whatever is to come ;

It swallows up all our Cares, and Fears, and Doubts in Love and Faith, and a glorious Assurance of an happy Eternity.

But in speaking to this Head we must not omit the great Duty, as well as Expedience of an uniform and fervent Habit of Devotion. Fervent Intercourses with the Almighty in Prayer and Meditation, make the Brightness of the Divine Perfe&ions familiar to us, give us all the blissful Perceptions of pure and compleat Enjoyments, and shed an enlivening Tincture of Heavenly Satisfa&ion over every part of our Lives : Devotion enlarges the Soul, and enriches it with with every Divine Blessing; It opens upon us those Rivers of Pleasure which are

at

at God's Right-Hand, and replenishes our most outstretch'd Desires with Raptures of Delight, which cannot be uttered. The Uniformity of such our Devotion will make those Pleasures perpetual to iis, the Fervency of such our Devotion, will make them transcendantly delightful. A Mind thus piously affected, and zealously employ'd, can never be at a loss for Matter of Joy and Transport, admidst those ennobling and engaging Acts of Praise and Adoracion, whereby it is ever approaching the Divine Being, and communicates with him in his Happiness. These blissful Outgoings of the Soul towards God, will make Life one continued Scene of Pleasure, so that to attain the Spirit of true Devotion is the most compendious Way of becoming happy; for whosoever thus converses continually with the Lord muft necessarily fall in with the Precept in the Text, of rejoicing in the Lord always.

3dly and lastly, The applying ourselves to commendable and innocent Employments, is proposed as another proper Means of attaining this habitual Chearfulness of Temper. VOL. I.

F

THE

The State of the Mind depends wonderfully upon that of the Body, a sprightly Flow of Spirits will naturally break forth into a pleasing Gaiety of Soul, and a sluggish Inactivity of Blood, will benumb the Mind with Hebitude and Melancholy

Idleness and Indolence overcharge the Body with grofs Humours, and oppress the Mind with Loads of Discontent. Industry quickens and enlivens ; A&ivity of Body, warms and exhilerates the Soul. Accordingly the Business and Amusements of Life, ferve to employ and recreate Mankind, to fill up their Time, at least innocently, and dispose them for the better Performance of Religious Duties, by exercising their Bodies in what is wholesome, their Minds in what is agreeable. Thus it is, that our Callings, however laborious, are not imposed on us as Hardships, they are real. ly Blessings ; and those Persons whose Circumstances set them above pursuing the Fatigues of Businefs, are obliged to fupply that Defect by the Fatigues of Exercise.

AGAIN, we ought to apply ourselves to such moderate and innocent Diversions,

as

ás may keep both our Minds and Bodies in a right Frame of Vigour and Complacency. God did not place us here, to tantalize us with the bare Sight of worldly Blessings ; as He has given us all things richly to possess, so likewife comfortably to enjoy. The Earth brings forth Briars and Thorns, and is therefore inot a Place of compleat Happiness; but it likewise brings forth Corn, and Wine, and Oil, that they may strengthen and gladden Man's Heart, and make him a chearful Countenance ; and we may apply these Gifts of God to their intended Purposes, with Pleasure and Advantage. This Way of conceiving, enlarges oui Views with respect to outward Enjoyments ; they hereby do not reft in the outward Man, they administer to the Spiritual Happiness of the inner Man. But after all, what is mentioned upon this Head is chiefly prudential ; thefe Circumftances having only a more remote Influence upon the Mind, by immediately affe&ing the Body, they have not a spiritual, they have a natural Connection only, with the Precept now before us ; VOL. I.

F 2

however,

« PreviousContinue »