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however, it is not amiss, to suggest any thing that may be of Service, even in the most remote Instruments of Duty; especially since we frequently find, that bodily Disorders betray the Minds of sincere well-designing Persons, into Dircontent and Despair : They imagine themselves in a reprobate Condition, and feel none of the Comforts of Religion, purely because their Fancy is clouded with outward Melancholy and gross Hu
Here the Malady is entirely of the Body, and therefore the Applications of wholesome Exercise, of agreeable, but innocent, Recreations, are the proper Means of recovering the Advantages of Religious Joy.
In short, it is our Duty to apply whatever contributes to promote the Evenness of our Temper, the Chearfulness of our Souls, and Satisfaction of our Minds; because, through God's Blessing, it will likewise contribute to our more vigorous Performance of every Virtue, our Attainment of every divine Grace.
But while we do thus, by every pious and prudential Methods, endeavour
to keep the Spring of Religious Rejoycings within our own Breasts, pure and open, let the Overflowings of it stream forth in every Method of Communication among our Neighbours. The pleasing Influences, which Religion has upon us, may provoke others to like Piety ; for Devotion never stands so powerfully recommended to the Imitation of Mankind, as when Peace, Love and Joy are its direct and visible Effects.
AGAIN, it is an excellent Rule in Life, when we are not able to perform higher Duties, to employ ourselves in those that are lesser : But the Good-nature of a pious Christian may be continually exercised; where Acts of more substantial Charity, are out of the Sphere of our Abilities, kind Expressions, Mildness of Behaviour, agreeable Turns of Conversation, and
many other engaging Methods of keeping up Good-will, which are the natural Outgoings of Christian Chearful. ness, contribute wonderfully to promote the present Peace and Happiness of Mankind, do naturally tend to propagate the Exercise of Religious Rejoycing, and make
the general Practice of our Duty much more easy and delightful.
So far is Chriftianity from being of that recluse and abstracted Nature, as some Religionists falsely pretend, that it is in the highest Degree free in its Carriage, diffusive in its Behaviour ; even common Life shares largely of its Influences, and it improves the Offices of mutual Intercourse into Gospel Virtues and Graces.
So far again is Religion from being of a fullen morose Nature, a feve Contradiction to all Joy and Satisfa&tion whatever, that it makes Joy the End of our Being, and Joy the Means of attaining that End : And if we may rejoice in the Precepts of Christianity, how much more in the Rewards of it ? This Religious Joy, which is at present our Duty, as it is greater than, and distinct from, any thing that this World can give, so neither can it take it away : That Fullness of Joy which abides us hereafter, is glorious, þeyond Conception; it will afford us an Immensity, an Eternity of Happiness.
PSALM lxv. 11. Thou crownest the Year with thy Good
ness, and thy Paths drop Fatness.
HE constant Revolutions
of the Year, and the regu. T
lar Succession of fruitful Seasons consequent there
upon, are such obvious and ample Declarations of the Goodness and Power of that God, by the Bounty of whose Hands, and Riches of whose Mercy, our Hearts are filled with Food and Gladness, that St. Paul calls them the Witness he left of himself in the
World. By our Creation we do indeed exist, but by the Providence of that Almighty Nourisher of Mankind we continue in our Existence ; we enjoy that Existence with Comfort, and are enabled to perform all the necessary and plausible Fundions of Life. But such is the degenerate State of fallen Man, we are apt to forget the Largeness of those Benefits, which are poured daily upon us, we look upon them as Blessings of course, depending upon such stated Rules and Laws of Nature, as shall not be broken
; and with the Indifference of unthankful Receivers, we fancy the Fruits of the Earth, the Fruits of our own Industry. But if we consider God as well the wonderful Controuler, as Author of Nature, who ordereth as well as created all things for the Pleasure of his Almighty Will, we shall find abundant Reason to give continual Thanks for continual Mercies, their being common by no Means taking off from their being great ; and with the humble Praise of Dependancy and Gratitude, we ought to look up to the Allbountiful Hand of the Almighty, from