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SERM. jarring passions, or the galling reproaches of III. a guilty conscience. Who would not prefer
even a moderate satisfaction which never fails, but is always ready to meet us when we turn our thoughts towards it, to a delight which might for once, or very seldom, be transporting ; (if that were the case, though really it is not, for the pleasures of the fpiritual kind are the more intense as well as certain) I say, to an enjoyment, which, if it were very great and even superior, is difficult of access, requireth a concurrence of various circumstances and events not in our power, and overballanceth all the fatisfaction it yields, with painful delays and vexatious disappointments ? Especially, if we add, in the next place, that carnal pleasures are but of a short continuance, being designed by the author of nature not to be the chief bufiness and enjoyment of a reasonable being, but for certain particular ends in the animal "life, which, when they are answered, the pleasure dies, nay, is often turned into averfion and distaste, and always the review of them is at least insipid. Thus the persons whom Solomon calleth wine-bibbers and riotous eaters of fleh, have no lasting satisfaction in that sensual delight they chuse ; when the ends of nature are obtained, the Serm. appetite palls, satiety comes in the place of III. pleasure, meats and drinks become nauseous, and the use of them opprefseth rather than pleaseth. No man is able to recal pleasures of that sort, he rather shuns a reflection upon them, from a consciousness that they will not bear the calm examination of his own mind. On the contrary, the pleasantness of wisdom's ways, designed for the constant exercise, and the constant entertainment of the mind, never flattens, never becomes tasteless or burthensome ; it will abide the trial of our coolest thoughts, and the more we examine it, still it will be the more delightful, always fresh, always new; and the more we use it, the more it encreaseth, and will still encrease, till the pure Ítream endeth in rivers of pleasures which are at God's right hand, as the Pfalmift speaketh; and the joy groweth up to that fulness which is in his presence.
Lastly, These are to be accounted the greatest, the noblest, and in all respects the most valuable comforts, which support and relieve the mind in its greatest need. Seeing we find ourselves liable to calamities of several sorts, and particularly to death, which
SERM, is the most shocking to nature on its own III. account, and is more dreadful to a conside
rate mind, because of its important conse: quences, certainly it must be our wisdom to make the best provision we can against the evil day, and to chuse those pleasures, if any such there be, which will not fail even then. But no enjoyment of this world, and least of all the pleasures of sin, stand us in any stead when the hout of distress cometh. What comfort hath the miser in his treasures, what delight hath the vicious int his debauches, when fickness seizeth the body, and the fear of judgment taketh hold of the soul? But then the religious, the truly wise man, pofseffeth an undisturbed, calm, and a self-applauding triumph, he looketh back on a well-spent life with joy, appealing to God as Hezekiah did, Remember, Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee, in truth, and with a perfeet beart, and have done that which is good in tby hight. And he looketh forward to a future judgment, and an eternal state, with confidence.
And now, my brethren, these things are spoken as to wise men, judge ye what is faid; let us calmly consider and judge, whether,
abftracting from other arguments, religion SERM. hath not the advantage of superior pleasure III. on its side, and even on that account justly claimeth that we should prefer it to the contrary course. I know the prejudices of men incline them to a different opinion, and it is very usual for those who are the least acquainted with it, to paint it in their own imagination with a sour forbidding aspect. Whatever other arguments may enforce it, and hard neceffity, perhaps, may strongly urge them to it, when they think on a future judgment, yet they must lay their account to part with all pleasure when they devote themselves to the study of godliness and sobriety ; especially, the light in which the New Testament setteth the religious exercises which it enjoineth, the duties of repentance, mortification, self-denial, and patience, carry sorrow and severity in the very sound of them; and to confirm all this, it is sometimes observed, that the people who seem to be serious and devout, who have a great appearance of piety, are the most estranged from joy.
This is a matter worthy of our serious consideration, that we may be able to form a right judgment; but when the objection is
SERM, allowed all its just weight, I hope it will
III. itill appear that the ways of wisdom are Komad ways of pleasantnefs. To begin with what
was last mentioned as an argument from fact and experience, that some serious and devout persons seem to have the least pleafure; not to mention the case of hypocrites, who, as our Saviour faith, disfigure their faces, and are of a sad countenance, which ought not at all to affect the cause of religion, being a mere counterfeit; it must be acknowledged that some serious melancholy persons spend their lives very uncomfortably, almost in continual fear and grief. But whence doth this arise? Pray, take their own testimony; they will all agree that the true cause is a fufpicion of their insincerity; not only their past transgressions are the occasion of their present grief, but they are afraid left their compliance with the gospel terms of acceptance be defective, their performance of their duty cometh so far short as they think of what God requireth, and the corruptions of their hearts are so strong, breaking out into so many trangreffions. Now, can it ever be reasonable to impute that forrow to religion as the proper cause, which by the confession of those who suffer