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the true Happiness of our Nature; that it is not inconsistent with any Pleasures which are not reasonable and innocent, and is a Source of the purest and most lasting Joys.
I am sensible indeed that, let Religion be supposed never so excellent and amiable in itself, it cannot make a Person happy, exCept there be a Suitableness to it in the Temper of his Mind. They who are under the Power of vicious Affections and Lusts, and whose moral Taste is corrupted and depraved, can take no Pleasure in the Ways of Religion, nor have a just Relish for its pure and refined Joys till the Dispositions of their Hearts be changed. Bat we must not imagine, that therefore it is to no Purpose to set before them the Reasonableness, the Beauty and Excellency of true Religion and Virtue. Still they are to be treated and applied to as seasonable 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 ConGderation and Reflection, and the representing Things in a proper Light, may have a Tendency to remove Prejudices, to rectify and improve the moral Taste, and by Degrees to work upon the Heart and the Affections. And, particularly in the Case be-fore us, the best Way we can take to give
à right Biafs to the Affections and Dispofitions 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 Consequences of Vice and Sin, and the great Worth, the Beauty and Excellency of religious Virtue and real Holiness, the glorious Rewards which shall attend it, and the Divine Joys it hath a Tendency to pro
duce. By such Views frequently repeated it may be hoped that the Reason 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 assimilating transforming 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 noblest Objects. But such is our present Weakness and Depravity, such the Power of our corrupt Appetites and Paffions, and the manifold Temptations to which we are exposed, 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 Jesus 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 just spiritual Taste and Relish of those pure Pleasures which the right Knowledge and Practice of Religion is fitted to afford. The giving us new Hearts and new Spirits is represented as his Work. Remarkable to this purpose 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 stony 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 designed to preclude the Use 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 : Cast, away from you all your Tranfgreffions, and make you a new Heart and a new Spirit., Ezek. xviii. 31.
This is designed to intimate to us that we must use all proper Means
on our Parts, and apply our utmost Efforts to rectify what is amiss in the Temper of our Minds, as ever we would hope for his gracious Affiftances and Divine Communications. And certainly, as has been already hinted, one of the properest Means for this Purpose is the stirring up the Powers of our Souls to an attentive Confideration of those Things which have a Tendency to remove and overcome our Prejudices against Religion, and recommend it to our Affection and Efteem.
As an Introduction to what I intend pret, ty largely to infift upon in Profecution of this important Subject, I have chosen these remarkable Words of the pious Psalmist : Delight thyself in the Lord, and be shall give thee the Defires of thine Heart. He begins this Psalm with cautioning Men not to give Way to the Frettings of Envy' and Discontent, because of the seeming Profperity of the Wicked, who often flourish in an Abundance of Riches, Honours, and Pleasures of this present World, whilft good Men, the excellent of the Earth, are in a poor mean Condition, afflicted and despised. Fret not tbyself because of Evil-Doers, neither be envious against the Workers of Iniquity. He observes that their Prosperity is a vain Shew, and at best very transitory in its Duration:
They shall foon be cut down as the Grass, and wither as the green Herb. Men of real Piety and Virtue, who place their Trust in their God, and go on in a Course of Well-doing, may not have a large Affluence of this World's Goods, but they thall have what is necessary for their Support, and the Favour and Blessing of God with it, which sweetens every thing, and is a better Security for their Subsistence, than any worldly Wealth or Power can furnish : Trust in the Lord, and do Good; fo fhalt thou dwell in the Land, and verily thou Ahalt be fed. And then the Psalmist adds, Delight thyself also in the Lord, and be fall give thee the Desires of thine Heart. Whilft others feek for Pleasure in the Vanities of this transitory World, do thou place thy highest Happiness in God alone, make him the chief Object of thy Joy, and so thalt thou never be disappointed. He shall give thee what is really best for thee, and through his Grace and Goodness thou shalt attain to that true Happiness which is able to satisfy the most enlarged Desires and Capacities of thy Soul.
This Precept of delighting in the Lord is not to be understood in so strict a Sense, as if he were to be the only Object of our Joy, and we were not allowed to delight or take R.