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On the Delight a good Man has in the Contemplation of God and his glorious Perfections.
PSALM XXXvii. 4.
Delight thyself in the Lord, and he fhall give thee the Defires of thine Heart.
F all the Prejudices that are apt to render Men averfe to Religion, there is none, more common, or which hath a more pernicious Influence than this, that they look upon it as an Enemy to the Pleasure and Satisfaction of human Life. They reprefent it to themfelves a gloomy and melancholy Thing, VOL. III. four
four and unfociable, in which no Pleasure or Enjoyment is to be found, nothing that can yield an agreeable Entertainment in this prefent State. Whilft Perfons are under the Power of fuch Prejudices, the Arguments and Motives of Religion are in a great Measure loft upon them. When they form fuch a difagreeable and unamiable Idea of a religious and virtuous Life, as if it were inconfiftent with their prefent Happiness, fcarce will the Promife of Heaven itself allure them to it; efpecially when it is regarded as a State of confummate Holiness and Purity.
It is therefore of great Importance to endeavour to get our Minds divested of thefe Prejudices against Religion, and brought to a high Eftimation of it, and Delight in it; and to this Purpose we should endeavour to fix our Views upon its Excellency and Loveliness, to reprefent it to our Minds in an agreeable and amiable which is its true and proper Light, and to behold it in its own lovely Form, and in the beautiful Harmony of all its Parts, all confpiring to entertain the nobleft Affections of the human Mind. We should pursue these Reflections till we come to this, as our deliberate fixed Perfuafion, that Religion duly known and practised hath a Tendency to promote
the true Happiness of our Nature; that it is not inconfiftent with any Pleasures which are not reasonable and innocent, and is a Source of the pureft and most lafting Joys.
I am fenfible indeed that, let Religion be fuppofed never fo excellent and amiable in itself, it cannot make a Perfon happy, except there be a Suitableness to it in the Temper of his Mind. They who are under the Power of vicious Affections and Lufts, and whose moral Taste is corrupted and depraved, can take no Pleasure in the Ways of Religion, nor have a juft Relish for its pure and refined Joys till the Difpofitions of their Hearts be changed. But we must not imagine, that therefore it is to no Purpose to fet before them the Reasonablenefs, the Beauty and Excellency of true Religion and Virtue. Still they are to be treated and applied to as reasonable thinking Beings, who have a Power, if they will exercise it, to turn their Thoughts and Views to the most excellent Objects. It cannot be denied, that attentive Confideration and Reflection, and the reprefenting Things in a proper Light, may have a Tendency to remove Prejudices, to rectify and improve the moral Tafte, and by Degrees to work upon the Heart and the Affections. And, particularly in the Cafe before us, the best Way we can take to give B 2 a right
a right Biafs to the Affections and Difpofitions of the Soul is to endeavour to get our Minds enlightened to a juft Discernment of the moral Differences of Things, the Evil and Deformity and the pernicious Confequences of Vice and Sin, and the great Worth, the Beauty and Excellency of religious Virtue and real Holiness, the glorious Rewards which fhall attend it, and the Divine Joys it hath a Tendency to produce. By fuch Views frequently repeated it may be hoped that the Reafon will be convinced, a right practical Judgment formed, and the Will and Affections drawn to make a proper Choice: For the Views of an amiable Object have an affimilating tranfforming Virtue, and Beauty frequently beheld tends to excite Love and engage the Heart.
This is the Method which Reason prefcribes, and the Holy Scripture directs to, in order to bring us to a right Temper of Mind, to purify our Hearts and raise our Affections to the nobleft Objects. But fuch is our prefent Weakness and Depravity, 'fuch the Power of our corrupt Appetites and Paffions, and the manifold Temptations to which we are expofed, that we "stand in Need of Divine Influences and Aids
for accomplishing this great Work. And
therefore it highly concerneth us to offer up our earnest Prayers to God through Jefus Christ, that he who hath the Hearts of all Men in his Hands, and can touch the most se-, cret Springs of our Souls, would communicate to us the Aids of his Holy Spirit, that the great Truths and Duties of Religion may come with a Divine Light and Power on our Minds, and that our Hearts may be brought to a juft fpiritual Taste and Relish of those pure Pleafures which the right Knowledge and Practice of Religion is fitted to afford. The giving us new Hearts and new Spirits is reprefented as his Work. Remarkable to this Purpofe is the Promise he makes to his People, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. A new Heart will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the ftony Heart out of your Flesh. And he afterwards declares, Ver. 37. that for this he would be inquired of to do it for them. But this is not defigned to preclude the Ufe of their own Endeavours. For he, who promises to give them new Hearts and new Spirits, elsewhere exhorts them to make to themselves new Hearts and new Spirits: Caft, away from you all your Tranfgreffions, and make you a new Heart and a new Spirit.. Ezek. xviii. 31. This is defigned to intimate to us that we must use all proper Means