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more to our advantage, than this intercourse with God, we should not be called to such a continuance in prayer. But if a man consider what it is, which he leaves, when he retires to de votion, he will find it no small happiness to be so often relieved from doing nothing, or nothing to the purpose ; from dull idleness, unprofitable labour, or vain conversation. If he con sider, that all, which is in the world, and all,which is doing in it, is only for the body, and bodily enjoyments, he will have reason to rejoice at those hours of prayer, which carry him to higher consolations, which raise him above these poor concerns, which open to his mind a scene of greater things, and accustom his soul to the hope and expectation of them.
If religion command us to live, wholly unto God, and do all to his glory, it is, because every other way is living wholly against ourselves, and will end in our own shame and confusion of face.
As every thing is dark, which God does not enlighten; as every thing is senseless, which has not its share of knowledge from him ; as nothing lives, but by partaking of life from him; as nothing exists, but because he commands it to be ; so there is no glory nor greatness, but what is the glory or greatness of God.
Would you see how happy they are, who live according to their own wills, who cannot submit to the dull and melancholy business of a life devoted unto God ? look at the man in the
parable, to whom his lord had given one talent.
He could not bear the thoughts of using his talent according to the will of him, from whom he had it, and therefore he chose to make him. self happier in a way of his own. Lord,' said he, I know thee, that thou art an hard man, reaping, where thou hadst not sown, and gathering, where thou hast not strawed. And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth. Lo, there thou hast that is thine.'
His lord having convicted him out of his own mouth, dispatched him with this sentence; Cast the unprofitable servant into utter darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
Here you see how happy this man made himself by not acting wholly according to his lord's will. It was, according to his own account, a happiness of murmuring and discontent. 1 know thee, says he, that thou wast an hard man; it was an happiness of fears and apprehensions. I was, says he, afraid ; it was an happiness of vain labours and fruitless travails. I went,
says he, and hid thy talent ; and after having been awhile the sport of foolish passions, tormenting fears, and fruitless labours, he is rewarded with darkness, eternal weeping, and gnashing of teeth.
This is the happiness of all those, who look upon a strict and exalted piety, that is, a right use of their talent, to be a dull and melancholy state of life,
They may live awhile free from the restraints and directions of religion ; but, instead thereof, they must be under the absurd government of their passions. They must, like the man in the parable, live in murmurings and discontents, in fears and apprehensions. They may avoid the labour of doing good, of spending their time devoutly, of laying up treasures in heaven, of clothing the naked, of visiting the sick ; but then they must, like this man, haye labours and pains in vain, which tend to no use nor advantage ; which do no good either to themselves or others. They must travail, and labour, and work, and dig to hide their talent in the earth. They must, like him, at their lord's coming, be convicted out of their own mouths, be accused by their own hearts, and have every thing, which they have said and thought of religion,
made to show the justice of their condemnation to eternal darkness, weeping, and gnashing of teeth.
This is the purchase, which they make, who avoid the strictness and perfection of religion, in order to live happily.
On the other hand, would you see a short description of the happiness of a life rightly employed, wholly devoted to God, you must look at the man in the parable, to whom his lord had given five talents. “Lord,' said he, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained besides them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things ; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.'
Here you see a life, which is wholly intent upon the improvement of the talents; which is devoted wholly unto God; is a state of happiness, prosperous labours, and glorious success. Here are not, as in the former case, any uneasy passions, murmurings, vain fears, and fruitless labours. The man is not toiling and digging in the earth for no end nor advantage ; but his pious labours prosper in his hands; his happi. ness increases upon him ; the blessing of five
becomes the blessing of ten talents; and he is received with a 'Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
As the case of these men in the parable left nothing else to their choice, but either to be happy in using their gifts to the glory of the lord, or miserable by using them according to their own humours and fancies ; so the state of christianity leaves us no other choice.
All, which we have ; all, that we are ; all, which we enjoy, are only so many talents from God; if we use them to the ends of a pious and holy life, our five talents will become ten, and our labours will carry us into the joy of our lord ; but if we abuse them to the gratification of our own passions, sacrificing the gifts of God to our own pride and vanity, we shall live here in vain labours and foolish anxieties, shunning religion as a melancholy thing ; accusing our lord as a hard master, and then fall into everlasting misery
We may for awhile amuse ourselves with names, and sounds, and shadows of happiness; we may talk of this or that greatness and dignity ; but if we desire real happiness, we have no other possible way to it, but by improving our talents, by so holily and piously using the