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however, it is not amifs, to fuggeft any thing that may be of Service, even in the most remote Inftruments of Duty, especially fince we frequently find, that bodily Disorders betray the Minds of fincere well-defigning Perfons, into Difcontent and Defpair: 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 grofs Humours. Here the Malady is entirely of the Body, and therefore the Applications of wholefome Exercife, of agreeable, but innocent, Recreations, are the proper Means of recovering the Advantages of Religious Joy.
IN fhort, it is our Duty to apply whatever contributes to promote the Evenness of our Temper, the Chearfulnefs of our Souls, and Satisfaction of our Minds; becaufe, through God's Bleffing, it will likewife 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 Breafts, pure and open, let the Overflowings of it ftream forth in every Method of Communication among our Neighbours. The pleafing Influences, which Religion has upon us, may provoke others to like Piety; for Devotion never ftands fo 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 leffer: But the Good-nature of a pious Chriftian may be continually exercifed; where Acts of more fubftantial Charity, are out of the Sphere of our Abilities, kind Expreffions, Mildness of Behaviour, agreeable Turns of Converfation, and many other engaging Methods of keeping up Good-will, which are the natural Outgoings of Chriftian Chearfulnefs, contribute wonderfully to promote the present Peace and Happiness of Mankind, do naturally tend to propagate the Exercife of Religious Rejoycing, and make F 3
the general Practice of our Duty much more eafy and delightful.
So far is Chriftianity from being of that reclufe and abftracted Nature, as fome Religionists falfely pretend, that it is in the highest Degree free in its Carriage, diffufive 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 morofe Nature, a feve Contradiction to all Joy and Satisfaction 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 Chriftianity, 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, fo neither can it take it away: That Fullness of Joy which abides us hereafter, is glorious, beyond Conception; it will afford us an Immenfity, an Eternity of Happiness.
PSALM lxv. 11.
Thou crowneft the Year with thy Good nefs, and thy Paths drop Fatnefs.
HE conftant Revolutions of the Year, and the regular Succeffion of fruitful Seafons confequent thereupon, are fuch obvious and ample Declarations of the Goodness and Power of that God, by the Bounty of whose Hands, and Riches of whofe Mercy, our Hearts are filled with Food and Gladness, that St. Paul calls them the Witness he left of himself in the F 4 World.
World. By our Creation we do indeed exist, but by the Providence of that Almighty Nourisher of Mankind we continue in our Exiftence; we enjoy that Existence with Comfort, and are enabled to perform all the neceffary and plausible Functions of Life. But fuch is the de
generate State of fallen Man, we are apt to forget the Largenefs of thofe Benefits, which are poured daily upon us, we look upon them as Bleffings of course, depending upon fuch ftated Rules and Laws of Nature, as fhall 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 confider 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 Reafon 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 whom