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of God formed them to be what they are; so they cannot enjoy this or that happiness of men or angels, because they have a mind to it, but because it is the will of God, that such things be the happiness of men, and such things the happiness of angels. But now if God be thus all in all; if his will is thus the measure of all things, and all natures; if nothing can be done, but by his power; if nothing can be seen but by a light from him; if we have nothing to sear, but from his justice; if we have nothing to hope for, but from his goodness; if this is the nature of man, thus helpless in himself; if this is the state of all creatures, as well those in heaven, as those on earth; if they are nothing-, can do nothing, can suffer no pain, nor seel any happiness, but so far, and such degrees, as the power of God does all this; if this be the state of things, then how can we have the least glimpse of joy or comsort, how can we have any peaceful enjoyment of ourselves, but by living wholly unto that God, using and doing every thing conformably to his will? A lise thus devoted unto God; looking wholly unto him in all our actions, and doing all things suitably to his glory, is so far from being dull, and uncomsortable, that it creates new comsorts in every thing that we do.
On the contrary, would you see how happy they are who live according to their own wills, who cannot submit to the dull and melancholy business of a lise devoted unto God; look at the man in the parable, to whom his Lord had given one talent.
He could not bear the thoughts ofusinjHiis talent, according to the will of him from whom he
had it, and therefore he chofe to make himself happier in a way of his own. Lord, fays he, / knew thee, that thou art an hard man, reaping zvhere thou hadst not sown, and gathering where thou hadst not Jirawed. And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth. Lo there thou hast that is thine.*
His Lord having convicted him out of his own mouth, difpatches him with this sentence, Cast the 7inprostlahle servant into outer darkness; there stall he weeping, and gnashing of teeth.\
Here you see how happy this man made himself, by not acting wholly according to his Lord's will. It was, according to his own account, a happiness of'murmuring and discontent; I knew thee, fays he, that thou-wast an hard man: It was an happiness of fears and apprehensions; I was, fays he, afraid: It was an happiness of vain labours and fruitless travels: I went, fays he, and hid thy talent; and aster having been a while the sport of foolish passions, tormenting sears, and fruitless labours, he is rewarded with darkness, eternal weeping, and gnashing of teeth.
Now this is the happiness of all thofe who look upon a strict and exalted piety, that is, a right use of their talent, to be a dull and melancholy state of lise.'
They may live a while free from the restraints and directions of religion, but instead thereof, they must be under the absurd government of their
passions: They must, like the man in the parable, live in murmurings and discontents, in fears and apprehensions. They may avoid the labour of doing good, of spending their time devoutly, of laying up treasures in heaven, of cloathing the naked, of visiting the sick; but then they must, like this man, have labours, and pains in vain, that tend to no use or advantage, that do no good either to themselves or others; they must travel and labour, and work and dig, to hide their talent in the earth. They must, like him, at their Lord's coming, be convicted out of their own mouths, be accused by their own hearts, and have everything that they have faid and thought of religion, be made to shew the justice of their condemnation to eternal darkness, weeping, and gnashing of teeth.
This is the purchase that they make, who avoid the strictness and persection of religion, in order to live happily.
On the other hand, would you see a short description of the happiness of a lise rightly employed, wholly devoted to God, you must look at the man in the parable, to whom his Lord had given sive talent6. Lord, fays he, thou deliveredft unto me jive talents: behold I h.tve gained besides them Jive talents more. His Lord said unto him, well done thou good and faithful servant; thou haft been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
Here you see a lise that is wholly intent upon the improvement of the talents, that is devoted
wholly unto God, is a state of happiness, profperous labours, and glorious success. Here are not, as in the former case, any uneasy pajjions, murmiirmgs, vain fears, and fruitless labours. The man is not toiling and digging in, the earth for no end or advantage; but his pious labours prosper in his hands, his happiness increases upon him, the blessing of sive becomes the blessing of ten talents; and he is received with a Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
Now as the case of these men in the parable left nothing else to their choice, but either to be happy in using their gists to the glory of the Lord, or miferable by using them according to their own honours and fancies; so the state of Christianity leaves us no other choice.
All that we have, all that we are, all that we enjoy, are only so many talents from God; if we use them to the ends of a pious and holy lise, our sive talents will become ten, and our labours will carry us into the joy of our Lord'; but if we abuse them to the gratisications of our own passions, facrisicing the gists of God to our own pride and vanity, we shall live here in vain labours and foolish anxieties, siuinning religion as a melancholy thing, accusing our Lord as a hard master, and then fall into everlasting mifery.
We may for awhile amuse ourselves with names, and sounds, and Jhadows of happiness; we may talk of this or that greatness and dignity; but if we desire real happiness, we have no other possible
way to it, but by improving our talents, by so holily and piously using the powers and faculties of men in this present state, that we may be happy and glorious in the powers and faculties of angels in the world to come.
How ignorant therefore are they of the nature of religion, of the nature of man, and the nature of God, who think a lise of strict piety and devotion to God, to be a dull uncomfortable state; when it is so plain and certain, that there is neither comfort or joy to be found in any thing else.
The happiness of a life wholly devoted unto God, farther proved, from the vanity, the sensuality, and the ridiculous, poor enjoyments, which they are Jorced to take up with, who Jive according to their own humours. This represented in various characters,
WE may still see more of the happiness of a lise devoted unto God, by considering the poor contrivances for happiness, and the contemptible ways of lise, which they are thrown into, who are not under the directions of a strict piety, but seeking aster happiness by other methods.
If one looks at their lives, who live by no rule but their own humours and fancies; if one sees but what it is which they call joy, and greatness, and happiness; if one sees how they rejoice and repent,