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(as the truly thankful always are) will, with the greatest Chearfulness, run the Ways of God's Commandments, because he has a Principle in him which converts the most painful Duties into the most delightful Recreations. It is good, as it gives a great Support to our Hope and Dependence on God: For, besides that the Consciousness of having made thankful Returns for what we have received will be a great Consolation to us in the Time of our Distress, the very Remembrance and Recollection of God's former Favours, which our grateful Sense of them will not fail to impress in our Minds, will prove a constant Fund of happy Experience, for our Affiance in him to live upon for the future. It is good, as it heightens and improves the Enjoyment of God's Benefits to such a Degree that, whilst the Unthankful, for Want of a due Estimate of his Favours, live dissatisfied, those that have a grateful Sense of his Goodness to them, feed upon every Blessing with Content. Once more, it is good, because it mightily obliges God to continue and repeat his Favours to us : For, seeing he is the freest and most generous Benefactor in the World, we may depend upon it, that, if we make the good Use of his Benefits for which he designed them, if we render such grateful Returns for them as are both delightful to him and beneficial to ourselves, he will be fo far from withdrawing his Hand from us for the future, that he will rejoice over us to do us good, and be as highly pleased to multiply his Benefits upon us as we can be to receive them.
2. Another Commendation of the Duty is this; Praise the Lord, for it is pleasant, as it pursues the natural Bent and Inclination of our Minds; which are never more easy and delighted than when we are able to make grateful Returns for the Favours we have received. It is pleasant, as it proceeds from Love, the Fountain of Pleasure, the Passion
which gives every Thing we do and enjoy its Relish and Agreeableness; and from Thankfulness, which involves in it the Memory of past Benefits, and is, as it were, a repeated Enjoyment of them. It is pleasant, as it procures Quiet and Ease to the Mind, by delivering it of those Thoughts of Praise and Gratitude, those Exultations it is full of, and which would grow uneasy and troublesome to it, if they were kept in; for, were the Thankful restrained from making Mention of God's Mercies, it would be Pain and Grief to them ; but then, then, is is their Soul satisfied with Marrow and Fatness, when their Mouth praiseth him with joyful Lips.
In other Parts of our Devotion there is something painful and laborious to human Nature : Prayer awakens in us a forrowful Sense of Wants and Imperfections, and Confession induces a fad Remembrance of our Guilts and Miscarriages ; but Thanksgiving has nothing in it but a warm Sense of the mightiest Love and the most indearing Goodness, as it is the Overflow of an Heart full of Love, the free Sally and Emission of Soul that is captivated and indeared by Kindness. We, indeed, in this State of our Defection, are, in a great Measure, unacquainted with the Pleasure and Sweetness of this blessed Work; and the Reason is, because we have not a quick Sense and lively Relish of the Divine Goodness, upon which it terminates. Had we this always present with us, we should feel so much Joy and Pleasure in Thanksgiving, that it would be our Heaven upon Earth to breathe up our Souls to God in Praise : But this we know, who know any Thing of Religion, that to laud and magnify the Lord is the End for which we were born, and the Heaven for which we were designed ; and that, when we are arrived to such a vigorous Sense of the Divine Love, as the blessed Inhabitants of Heaven have attained, we shall need no other, ei
ther Pleasure or Employment, to make us for ever happy, but only to sing eternal Praises and Hallelujahs to our God, and to the Lamb that fitteth upon the Throne : The vigorous Relish of whofe unfpeakable Goodness to us will fo inflame our Love and animate our Gratitude, that, to eternal Ages, we shall never be able to refrain from breaking out into new Songs of Praife ; and then every new Song will create a new Pleafure, and every new Pleasure dictate a new Song, and so round again, for ever and ever. But these Things are too fublime for our present Comprehension : Only let us consult the Experience of such as make this Parc of Devotion their constant Business, and they will assure us, that there is nothing under Heaven fo pleasant and delightful, as, from a warm and vigorous Sense of the Love of God, to breathe up our Souls to him in Praise and Thanksgiving; that this gives such Joy to the Mind, such Recreation to the Heart, as far exceeds the most studied artificial Pleasures of Sensuality. Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good : Sing Praises to his Name, for it is pleasant.
3. The other Commendation of this Duty is, that Praise is comely; as certainly a more becoming Exercise cannot be conceived than this, wherein the best Instruments of Nature are employed in the highest Offices of Grace ; our Hearts in recollecting, and our Tongues in relating the Loving-kindnefs of God. To have the Great King of Heaven and Earth surrounded with loud Acclamations of his joyful Subjects, his Excellence proclaimed and exalted above the highest Praise, his wonderful Works magnified and admired in triumphant Acknowledgments, and his Bounty and Love celebrated and adored with Songs and Magnificats ; what an Emblem is here of the Blessed above! And what more graceful and comely Sight can we imagine, than a full Congregation of Saints, blessing and praising the Lord? Our Prayers are designed for the Relief of our Wants, our Faith leans upon some future Good, and our Hope is a comfortable Expectation of it; but Praise is a generous and unmercenary Principle, which proposes no other End to itself but to do, as is fit for a Creature endowed with such Faculties to do, towards the most perfect and beneficent of Beings, and to pay the willing Tribute of Honour there, where the Voice of Reason directs us to pay it. In short, Praise is the most excellent Part of our religious Worship, the common Work of the Church, both Militant and Triumphant, the Source of Joy and Refreshment here, and the very Soul and Spirit of Heaven hereafter; the Perfections of God's Nature are its Object, and the very Act itself is the Perfection of ours. And therefore, whether it be for great or for small, for common or extraordinary, for present or paft, for private or publick, for temporal or spiritual Blefsings; whether it be for the Occurrences of Providence that are averse to our Desire, or for those that are accommodated to our Liking; in all States and Conditions, in all the Changes and Chances of Life, let the Praises of God be ever in our Mouths ; and in our Mind this Song of Moses, the Servant of the Lord, and this Song of the Lamb: Great and marvellous are thy Works, Lord God Almighty ; just and true are thy Ways, thou King of Saints ! Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy Name ?
C Η Α Ρ. ΙΙ.
1. Of Universal Love and Charity.
tian Duty, as it relates to our Neighbour, which far exceeds any Delineation that we can possibly devise. Charity suffereth long, and is kind ; Charity envieth not; Charity vaunteth not itself ; is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, tbinketh no Evil, rejoiceth not in Iniquity, but rejoiceth in the Truth; beareth all Things, believeth all Things, hopeth all Things, endureth all Things: So that, to explain the Nature and Properties of this Virtue, we need only give a short Comment upon the Apostle's Words'; and then proceed, 1. To shew the Obligations of it; and, 2. the Measures and Inducements of our performing it.
1. Charity suffereth long. The Man that is poffeffed of this excellent Grace is not apt, quickly, and upon every slight Occasion, to conceive a Difpleasure, much less to meditate Revenge against those who behave themselves ill towards him. He considers how subject to Frailties Mankind are, how easily betrayed, by Infirmities, and Surprize, and Passion, to Things that are inordinate: He makes just Allowances therefore for Inadvertencies and Indiscretions, and suppresses his Resentment for Wrongs, that are avowed and manifest, so long as they continue to be tolerable: And in this he differs from the jealous and captious, the peevish and hasty, who either fancy themselves injured and affronted when nothing like it is intended, or take fire upon every light Provocation and Neglect. 3