imaginary, which they cannot reach, or coy things, which disdain and reject their affection; it is concerning God quite otherwise : for,

He is most ready to impart himself, and will not reject any that cometh unto him ;' he most earnestly desireth and wooeth our love; he is not only most willing to correspond in affection, but doth prevent us therein, for 'we love him,' saith the Apostle, · because he first loved us.'

He doth cherish and encourage our love by sweetest influences and most comfortable embraces, by kindest expressions of favor, by most beneficial returns, ordering that all things shall work together for good to those who love him :' and whereas all other objects do in the enjoyment much fail our expectation, he doth ever far exceed it.

Wherefore, in all affectionate motions of our hearts toward God, in desiring him, or seeking his favor and friendship; in embracing him, or setting our esteem, our good-will, our confidence on him ; in enjoying him by devotional meditations and addresses to him; in a reflexive sense of our interest and propriety in him; in that mysterious union of spirit, hereby we do closely adhere to him, and are, as it were, inserted in him; in a hearty complacence in his benignity, a grateful resentment of his kindness, and a zealous desire of yielding some requital for it, we cannot but feel very pleasant transports, assuring to us the truth of that saying in the psalm, • They that love thy name shall be joyful in thee;' and disposing us to cry out with the psalmist, · How excellent is thy loving-kindness, O Lord !' · Because thy loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.

Indeed that celestial flame (kindled in our hearts by the spirit of love) cannot be void of warmth; we cannot fix our eyes on infinite beauty, we cannot taste infinite sweetness, we cannot cleave to infinite felicity, without we should also perpetually rejoice in the first daughter of love to God, charity toward men; the which in complexion and cheerful disposition doth most resemble its mother : for it doth rid all those gloomy, keen, turbulent imaginations and passions, which cloud our mind, which fret our heart, which discompose the frame of our soul, (from burning anger, from storming contention, from gnawing envy, from rankling spite, from racking suspicion, from distracting ambition and avarice.) It consequently doth settle our mind in an even temper, in a sedate humor, in an harmonious order, in that pleasant state of tranquillity, which naturally doth result from the voidance of irregular passions.

And who can enumerate or express the pleasures which do await on every kind, on each act of charity ?

How triumphant a joy is there in anywise doing good! whereby we feed good humor, and gratify our best inclinations; whereby we oblige our brethren, and endear ourselves to them; whereby we most resemble the divine goodness, and attract the divine favor.

St. Paul telleth us that “God loveth a cheerful giver;' and he prescribeth, that · he who showeth mercy,' should do it év inapórnti, 'with merriness ;' and in the law it is commanded, « Thine heart shall not grieve, when thou givest to thy poor brother :' and who indeed can out of charity give alms or show mercy without cheerfulness ? seeing that he thereby doth satisfy his own mind, and doth ease his own bowels ; considering that in doing good to his neighbor he receiveth far more good to himself ; that he then doth put forth his stock to very great and most certain advantage; that he dischargeth an office very acceptable to God, doth much oblige him, and render him a debtor, doth engage him abundantly to requite and reward that beneficence.

What satisfaction is there in forgiving offences ! whereby we discharge our souls from vexatious inmates, (black thoughts and rancorous animosities ;) whereby we clear ourselves from the troubles attending feuds and strifes; whereby we imitate our most gracious Creator, and transcribe the pattern of our meek Redeemer; whereby we render ourselves capable of divine mercy, and acquire a good title to the pardon of our own sins ; according to that divine word, . If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you.'

How unconfinedly and inexhaustibly vast is that delight, which a charitable complacence in the good of our neighbor (* a rejoicing with those that rejoice') may afford ! a man thence engrossing all the good in the world, and appropriating to himself all the prosperous successes, all the pleasant enter


tainments, all the comfortable satisfactions of his neighbor. Even a charitable sympathy, or condolency, in the adversities of our neighbor, is not destitute of content; for the soul is thereby melted into a gentle temper, susceptive of the best impressions; we share in the comfort which we minister to others; we are refreshed in that kindly submission to the good pleasure of God, in that lightsome contemplation of God's mercy, in those comfortable hopes of a happy issue, which we suggest to the afflicted; we thence are disposed to a grateful sense of God's goodness, in preserving ourselves from those calamities, and in qualifying us to comfort our brethren; we feel satisfaction in reflecting on this very practice, and observing that we do act conformably to good-nature, to the dictates of reason, to the will of God, therein discharging a good conscience, and enjoying a portion of that continual feast.'

I should, if the time would permit, farther declare how we should find delight in the contemplation of all God's attributes, of his works, of his word; in thankful resentment of all God's benefits ; in willing obedience to all God's laws; how joy is a proper fruit growing on the practice of humility, of justice, of temperance, of devotion, of every virtue and grace : more particularly I should have evidenced how, from a patient submission to God's afflicting hand, from penitential contrition of heart for our sins, from a pious fear and solicitude in working out our salvation, most sweet consolations (so tempering those ingredients as to render their bitterness very savory) may spring: but in recommending joy I would not produce grief; and therefore shall not farther annoy your patience.



The terms of this precept explained, and the meaning settled. To begin with the last words, which qualify the action enjoined, as to its degree or extent: with all diligence. These words admit a threefold acceptation. 1. They may denote absolutely the intenseness in degree, or extension in kind, of the performance required : that is, with all sorts or with all degrees of care and diligence. 2. Keep thy heart above all keeping ; that is, especially and more than thou keepest any other thing. 3. They may also, and that probably enough, be taken to denote the universality of the object, or matter of this keeping, or the adequate term and bound thereof : keep thy heart from every thing which it should be kept from, that is, from every thing offensive or hurtful to it. These senses are all of them good, and the precept may be understood according to any of them, or all of them conjointly.

As for the meaning of the words, keep thy heart, two inquiries may be made : 1. what the heart is; 2. what is meant by keeping it.

To the first it may be said that in the style of Scripture the heart commonly imports the whole inward man, the hidden man of the heart, as St. Peter calls it, comprehending all the thoughts, imaginations, opinions, passions, and purposes formed within us: this point enlarged on.

But then, what is this keeping? The word, as applied to this matter, is capable of three senses,

1. It may imply to observe, that is, to keep it under a constant view, as it were; to mark, inquire into, and study our heart: instances of this sense in Scripture.

2. It may denote the government or good management of our heart, keeping all the motions thereof in due order, &i.: instances of this sense in Scripture.

3. Again, keeping may be taken for preserving, guarding, securing from mischief or damage; which is indeed the most common use of the word, and therefore needs no instancing to countenance it. Now any of these senses may be intended here, or all of them together; and they are indeed in the nature of the thing so coherent, or so mutually dependent on each other, that any one of them can hardly be practised without the rest. At present the first of them, which seems naturally to precede, is attended to. According to this exposition we may understand it, as if each of us were thus advised; With a constant and wary care observe all the internal motions of thy soul; whatever is done or designed within thee, whither thy desires lean, what thy affections are excited by, with greatest attention and assiduity mark and ponder it.'

It is a peculiar excellency of human nature, that a man can reflect on all that is done within him, can discern the tendencies of his soul, and is acquainted with his own purposes. Some shadows of other rational operations are discoverable in brutes, but no good reason or experience can make it probable that they partake of this reflective faculty. But man being designed by his Maker, and disposed by the frame of his nature, not to follow casual impulses from exterior objects, nor the sway of his natural propensities, but to regulate as well the internal workings of his soul, as his external actions, according to certain laws, to settle his thoughts on due objects, bend his inclinations into a right frame, rectify his judgments and ground his purposes on honest reasons, it is needful he should have this power of discerning whatever moveth or passeth within him, what he

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