Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the Soul ; whereas a spiritual Commerce with God, which creates a sure Confidence in him, is a steady Enjoyment, which no Accident can impair, which, in the Multitude of Sorrows, will refresh us with Comforts, and, as holy fob expresses it, give us Songs in the Night, i. e. give us Consolation in the Night of Amiction, and in the Gloominess of human Despair. - Complain therefore we may of the Vanity and Emptiness of all worldly Joys ; but, at the same Time, we ought to remember what the Prophet tells us, viz. that it is from the Lord that they are so, viz. that he has purposely designed, that the good Things of chis Life should not be satisfying, nor able to answer that earnest Desire of Happiness, which he hath made con-natural to the Soul of Man, with an Intent to teach us, that he intended to fill up the Measure of our Desires, and to be himself the Delight, we so much

[ocr errors]

long for.

2. Moral Delight is that, which springs from the Conscience of Well-doing, of which, though the Wicked are not utterly insensible, (because it is often felt to arise from any single and casual Act of Virtue) yet are its Refreshments, in a peculiar Manner, the Portion of the Regenerate. When the Principles of Goodness come once to be fixed in a Man, and his Virtue is grown constant and uniform, it is then, that this never fails to supply him with a stable Serenity and Satisfaction of Mind, not to be equalled by all the Joys of Sensuality. Now, if Conscience may be thus delighted in, there is abundant Reason why God, who is the great Rewarder of Conscience, should have a much larger Share of our Joy and Complacency; especially considering, that the Delight, which arises from a Conscience of Well-doing, is nothing else, but a foreboding Instinct, that there will be a future Reward.

A Mer

A Messenger, for Instance, is sent to acquaint a Subject, that for his Loyalty, and other good Services done the Government, his Prince is resolved to promote him to Honour, to make him Governor of such a Province, or Ruler of such a City : The Messenger, in such a Case, may be received with Expreslions of Joy and kind Entertainment ; but certainly the Subject forgets his Duty, if he transfers all his Acknowledgments upon the Messenger, and overlooks the Beneficence of his Prince. Just so stands the Case between God and our Consciences. Our Consciences are our Remembrancers of a future Reward, which, upon the Discharge of any Duty faithfully, pleasantly whisper within, thus, and thus hall God reward thee for it ; and with this welcome Message we may well be allowed to solace and delight ourselves ; but certainly we forget our Duty, if we suffer our Minds to be so wholly taken up with it, as not to look up to the Fountain from whence it comes. In a Word, he that attends to the Operations of his own Mind, may easily perceive, that there is fo necessary a Relation between God and our Consciences, that, whenever we conceive any Pleasure from the Remembrance of any good Action, that pleasurable Movement of our Conscience is a natural Call to us to delight in God, who is the sole Foundation, and Hope, and Rewarder of it.

3. The same Lesson we may likewise learn from the last Kind of delectable Things, I mean, those of Heaven ; which though it be a State so pleasang and transcendently happy, that the Apostle tells us, the very Expectation of it is sufficient to work in us a Rejoicing with Joy unspeakable and full of Glory; yet we are to remember, that the Root and Foundation of all the eternal Beatitudes, that are there, is God: That it is not, in short, the Place Heaven, but rather the God of Heaven, that is the ReС

ward

ward of his Saints, procuring them endless Felicity from the Light of his Countenance upon them, and the Influence and Emanations of his Bounty towards them. And hence it is, that the Royal Psalmist declares to God, thou art my Hope and my Portion, in the Land of the Living. By the Land of the Living he means Heaven, (for Earth is no more than the Land of the Dying) and yet he does not look upon thaí Land, but merely upon God in that Land, as his Hope, and his Portion : To which Purpose we find the Apostle St Paul, in speaking of the State of God's eternal Kingdom, clearing and determining the Matter in two Words, when he tells us, that, in that State, God Mall be all in all, every Thing to every Saint ; for all that they can wish, all that they can conceive, he will be to every one of them, will answer all their Defires, provide for all their Wants, and fill up the immense Capacities of Enjoyment, which he hath feated in every one's Soul. Since God then, of all the Kinds of dele&table Things, that we can experience, either here or hereafter, is the only proper Object of our Joy, there is no Doubt to be made, but that, in Point of Duty and Interest both, we ought to place the chief of our Comfort and Complacency in him; considering withal, that this will be a Means to make us truly religious here, and eternally happy hereafter.

It is, without all Controversy, true, that there is no Principle in human Nature, that will so powerfully engage us in the Service of God, and fo effectually recommend our Performances to him, as that of Love, which tunes our Wills into an Harmony with his, and makes our Respect to his Commandments become universal. Now, between Love and Delight there is so great an Affinity, that we can hardly distinguish them : What we love, we always delight in; and what we delight in, we always love ;

[ocr errors]

and, if we distinguish them as nicely as we can, the Difference is only this :- Love is the Desire of our Object, and Delight is the Complacency, that accompanies Desire; so that Delight presupposes and implies in it Love. Upon which is follows, that, if we delight in our Master, we must necessarily love him, and, if we love him, we shall certainly keep his Commandments. The Man that addicts himself to his Lusts, makes them his Master; and though their Service be hard, and their Wages mean, yet nevertheless he stiles them Pleasures; and swallows them greedily down under that gilded Name. He watches and labours, he waits and follicits, he begs, and bears, and denies himself, and all with Content. Now, would we but transfer our Affections to God, and learn to love and delight in him thus sincerely, the very same Thing would happen to us; his Service we should account our Pleasure and the most rigid Duties of it willingly submit to, as happy Occasions, not only to signalize our Love here, but,

To secure our Title to the Glories and Felicities of our celestial Inheritance hereafter. The chief Enjoyments of Heaven, as we faid before, conlist not so much in the Pleasures of the Place, as in our partaking of the Divine PerfeЕtions, and seeing God Face to Face. And, therefore, if we do not accustom ourselves to delight in God, while we abide in this World, we can never be capable of enjoying Heaven, which, in Effect, is nothing else but God himself. For, be the Place never so beautiful and ravishing, yet that it can afford no such Satisfaction, without the Enjoyment of God, 'tis plain from that Passage of Job, where Satan is said to have presented himself among the Sons of God, i. e. to have been in Heaven, and mixed hintself with the Blessed there ; and yet, it is certain, he was never the happier for all this ; but, being deprived

C 2

of

of the Light of God's Countenance, and taking no Pleasure in the beatific Vifon, he, even in Heaven, carried his Hell about him : So impossible it is to enjoy Heaven, without some Complacency in God. But now, when, by long Custom and Usage, we have brought our Minds to this happy Temper, to be habitually well pleased and delighted with God, so as to rejoice in his Happiness; and acquiesce in his Will, and meditate on his Beauty and Goodness, with unfeigned Complacency of Soul, we are then in the same State (i. e. in Kind, tho' not in Degree) with the blessed Saints above, and, when we are called home to their Habitations, shall carry along with us Minds ready fitted and disposed for their Enjoyments.

If ever, therefore, we desire to partake of the Beatitudes of Heaven, and to live eternally in the View of that most lovely and most happy Object, which is the constant Feast and Entertainment of glorified Souls ; this we must set ourselves to do:

-We must contemplate him with the Eyes of our Faith, approach him in our Prayers, taste him in his Ordinances, and feel him in the Comforts of Well-doing. We must settle in our Minds a strict Conformity to his Laws, a generous Disdain of earthly Things, a noble Confidence in Divine Providence, and a stedfast and assured Hope of an eternal and never fading Crown of Glory ; for these are the proper Means to poffefs our Souls with a steady Delight and Complacency in God, our only Principle of living well, and of living for ever. We cannot, however, but take Notice, that, since God, :

his own Nature, is so amiable, in his Perfections fo transcendent, in his Laws so equitable, and in his Dispensations so gracious, there must be some intervening Hindrances, or, otherwise, no Man, of any tolerable Sense and Ingenuity, could forbear delighting in him. What, therefore, we

« PreviousContinue »