« הקודםהמשך »
Delight in GOD the Origin and
Perfection of human Pleasure.
PSALM xxxvii. 4.
He shall give Thee the Dehres of thine
LEASURE, or the Enjoyment of VIII.
our Heart's Dehre, being the chief Spring of Action in Man; the due Regulation of our Pursuits of it must always be of great Moment; and whoever addresseth us with an Offer of This Kind, will justly demand, and can scarce fail of engaging, our Attention. Now such a Proposal the Psalmist here makes to us all; directing our Pursuits after Pleasure to the great Source of it, and informing 'us, that the fure Method of attaining the Defre of our Hearts is to delight in the LORD. Which important Truth I shall accordingly at present endeavour to make out by shewing, how all our Pleasures point out to us, and are improved by, a Delight in GOD.
And this I shall illustrate more particu-SERM. larly with Regard, First, to the Pleasures VIII. of Sense and of Imagination ; And then, to those Moral and Intellectual Pleasures, of Benevolence towards others, and of Hope and Expectation for ourselves.
To begin with Sensual Pleasures. Even these, though the lowest in the Scale of Enjoyment, should however always put us in Mind, who it is that gives us all the Objects we enjoy, and the very Power of enjoying them : Otherwise we shall deserve those severe Rebukes, which GOD gives the Ifraelites by the Prophet Isaiah; The Ox knoweth his Owner, and the Ass his Master's Crib; but Ifrael doth not know, my People doth not consider.
And again, The Harp and the Viol, the Tabret and Pipe, and Wine are in their Feasts : but they regard not the Work of the LORD, neither consider the Operation of His Hands. It seems, they could enjoy the Accommodations and Gratifications of Life, without ever carrying their Thoughts upwards to that Being, who openeth his . Hand, and filleth all Things living with Plenteousness.
And how justly may those among ourselves fall under the fame Condemnation, who either profanely neglect, or thoughtlessly forget, to crave the Divine Blefling upon their Food, and to return Thanks to Him for it! A Duty enforced by the Ex
SERM. ample and constant Practice of our Blessed
Saviour ; who (not to mention several other Instances) took the feven Loaves, and. the two Fisbes, and gave Thanks ; a Duty exemplified by St. Paul, when, as we read, He took Bread, and gave Thanks before them all; as well as recommended by his express Declaration, where, speaking of Meats, which (as He tells us) GOD hath created to be received with Thanksgiving, He adds ; For every Creature of GOD is Good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with Thanksgiving ; for it is fanctified by the Word of GOD (which has abolished the Distinction of Meats) and Prayer. And in another Place, He that eateth, eateth to the LORD; for be giveth GOD Thanks. But because the Example of Confucius may weigh more with some Men than that of St. Paul, let me add, what is observed of him; that He never eat any Thing but he first prostrated himself, and offered it to the Supreme LORD of Heaven. In like Manner, Whether we eat or drink, let us do all to the Glory of GOD. This will ennoble and improve our carnal Gratifications, and exalt them into religious Acts of Gratitude and Love.
And indeed, it is the Mixture of some Moral Pleasure that gives the most agreeable Relish to Sensible Pleasures : Some grateful Reflection on the Person who be
stows them; or some benevolent Thoughts Serm.
What should farther be a strong Motive
If that Variety of Natural Evils which appear in the World, and continually break in upon Men's Enjoyment of sensual Pleasures, should be thought any Objection,
Ser m. against what has been advanced in Recom.
mendation of the Duty of Delighting in GOD; let it be remembered, that Natural Evils, such as Pain, Sickness, and Calamity, are graciously designed by GOD as Moral Goods, by making us reflect and think; by teaching us Patience and Refignation; and by weaning our Affections from Things below. Every Branch that beareth not Fruit, He taketh away; and every Branch that beareth Fruit, He purgeth, or pruneth, that it may bring forth more Fruit: That is, by some painful Operation, which beareth a Resemblance to pruning, He maketh every Good Man more Good; as the Branch that bore Fruit before, becometh more fruitful, and deriveth new Strength and additional Vigour from the very
Steel. So that, in short, those Restraints on Account of which Religion may, at first Sight, appear to be an Enemy to sensual Gratification, are in fact Instances of Her real Friendship to it. Even Self-denial is enjoined by GOD as the best Preservative of Self-enjoyment; since to enjoy ourselves we must learn to curb our Appetites : And all seeming Severity is really Indulgence upon the Whole. But farther :
From the Pleasures of the Senses let us proceed one Step higher to those of the Imagination. And these are chiefly Beauty, Grandeur and Novelty.