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And thus much for the Rules. I had to propose, as to the Use of our Liberty, in such Cases where a Man is at a Loss, in finding out the Measures and Bounds of Duty and Sin, and upon that Account, is in Danger of Transgressing. I have only Two Things more to add upon this Argument, by way of Application, and I have done. The one as a Caution to prevent the niisapplying these Rules; the other as an Encouragement to put them in Practice:
That which I have to say, by way of Caution, is this ; That what I have been now recommending, especially under the Two last Heads, is not intended to be a Rule or Dire&tion to any Hypochondriack, or Melancholy Persons, or such as are apt to be overfcrupia lous about their Actions : For, indeed, to such Perfons it is the worst Advice that can be given.
For they are apt to doubt and boggle at every Thing, be it never so innocent and free from blame. They dare not eat a hearty Meal, for fear of being Intemperate. And for fear of not being devout enough, they exhaust their Spirits, and spoil their Health, through the continual Intention of their minds to ferious Things.
Now Persons that are of this Temper, are rather to be encouraged to take more Libertie's than they do, than to abatę any that they make use of.
But their Case is of another consideration, and foreign to my present Purpose ; and therefore, I here fay no more about it : It being 1. Q: 3
sufficient to have given this Intimation to such People, that they do not make an ill use of any Thing that I have now represented; for assuredly, what hath been now said, doth not much concern them.
2. The other Thing I have to say, and that by way of Encoitragement, is this; I doubt not. but some will be apt to think, that the Rules I have now given about the Exercise of our Liberty, are much too strict and fevere; and that if they must be tied up to fuch Measures, then farewell all the Joy and Pleasure, and Comfort of their Lives. But to such People, I would crave leave to say, that they have very wrong Notions of this Matter.
The using of their Liberty in such a manner' as I have been recommending, would not rob them of one true Pleafire or Comfort that this World affords. So far from that, that I am very sure, whoever frames his Life according to these Measures, shall live a Hundred times a happier Life, and shall enjoy the World, and all the Pleasures and
Advantages of it, much more to his own Content and Satisfaction, than if he put no Check to the craving of his Appetites, but always indulged and gratified them in every thing, and as much as they desired.
Assure yourselves, Virtue and Religion will never hinder you from enjoying any Pleasure or Satisfaction that is natural. On the contrary, there is great Reason to believe, that the Practice thereof will extreamly heighten and advance the Satisfactions you cån receive from your Worldly Enjoyments. I doubt not in the least, but to a sincerely Pious and Virtuous Man, and that hath a Regard to God in all his Actions, even the very Pleasures and Conforts of this Life, are more gratifying and affecting, than to any Sensual or Wicked Man: For such a one, as he is more capable of enjoying them, so do they come to him likewise without the Mixtures of those uneasy, troublesome, bitter Reflections, that other Men feel in the very best of their Enjoyments.
Let no Man, therefore, apprehend any Loss of his Pleasures, by entirely devoting himself to God's Service, and using his Liberty in that careful Way I have been recommending. Let him not think that he shall hereby be too much straitned and confined. For certainly this is the true Means, not only to keep him for ever from being a Slave to any Thing, but also mightily to improve and increase his Liberty. "
For by thus exercising himself, all the Powers of his Soul will be vastly enlarged, and he will hereby attain both Leisure and Will, to employ all his Rational Faculties about the best and the noblest Objects in the World, which will yield him the greatest Pleasure that is to be had on this Side Heaven. Whereas if he had given himself up to be govern'd by any of his Sensual Appetites, he had been a poor, narrow, confined Creature, indeed, not capable of any greater Satisfactions or Pleasures, than what the Brutes do enjoy as well as himself, but with less Uneasiness, and fewer Disturbances.
.. It is true, indeed, a sensual Man hath no Notion of this kind of Pleasures, no more than a Beast hath of the Pleasures of a Man: And, therefore, it is no Wonder that such Men entertain all Talk about them, as little better than mere Cant and Jargon. But I seriously appeal to all Men that have made any Trials in the Way of Religion and Virtue, whether the Contentments and Satisfactions they have received from the rational Use of their Liberty, and the Thoughts and Reflections that hereby they do approve themselves to God, and live in Hopes of his Favour, and have a fair Prospect of a glorious Immortal State in another World; I say, Whether they do not find the Pleasures and Contentments that arise from hence, to be infinitely more solid and substantial, and durable, than any of those that they receive from the Gratification of their Sensual Appetites, in a vicious unreasonable Manner.
Oh, therefore, Let none of us make any scruple of devoting ourselves entirely and with out reserve to God Almighty's Service. Let none of us be afraid to put reasonable Restraints upon our Passions and Appetites. Assuredly the thus using our Liberty, is the certain Way to preserve and encrease it, and with it, the Pleasure and. Comfort of our Lives; and nat only so, but to render us Everlastingly Happy and Blessed in the other World.
Which that we may all þe, God, of his infinite Mercy, grant, &c. i .
Preached before the
HOUSE of COMMONS,
DEUT. V. 29. O that there were such an Heart in them, that
they would fear me, and keep all my Commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their Children for Ever! ? ,
USE HESE are the Words of God to
T13 Mofes, concerning the Children of Si Ifrael. And Two Things may be
thered from them :
II. The Means whereby that Happiness is to be attained.
The First of these is imported in that Solemn Wish, into which the Text is framed;