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more like Christ, such as are true Instances of that Meekness, Patience; and Charity, which were the principal Tenipers of his Spirit.
Now be the Hardships or Self-denials what they will, if they make us more like to Christ, they have done more for us, than all the Prosperity in the World can do and he that defends himself at the Expence of any Temper, that was the Temper of Christ, has done himself an Injury, greater than the worst and most powerful of his Enemies can bring upon him.
And all this is founded upon this one Reason, because there is but one Thing needful, the Salvation of our Souls. It is this that changes the Natures of all human Things, and makes every thing good or evil only so far as it promotes or binders this one End of Life. The Salvation of the World is the only Happiness of the World, and he that has secured his Share in that, has secured to himself all the Joy and Gladness that can befal human Nature.
A CHRISTIAN therefore that is not content with Salvation, that wants to add a worldly Joy and Pleasure to the great Things of Religion, is more senseless than the Man, that should think he had hard Usage to be saved from a Shipzureck, unless he was carried off upen a Cedar Plank.
Some farther Considerations upon
the Reasonableness of Self-denial.
EFORE I proceed any farther
in other Instances of Self-denial, it may be proper to fhew in
what the Duty of Self-denial is founded, or wherein the Reasonableness and Necessity of it consists.
E VER Y Duty or Virtue of the Christian Life is founded in Truth and Reason, and is required because of its Fitness to be done, and not because God has Power to command what he pleases.
If we are commanded to be nieek and humble, it is because Meekness and Humility are as true Judgments, and as suitable to the Truth of our State, as it is a true Judgment and suitable to the State of every dependent Being to be thankful for Mercies.
If we are bid to rejoice, it is at something that is truly joyful; if to fear, it is to fear something that is really dreadful. Thus we are called to no Tempers but such as are so many true Judgments, and as truly founded in the Nature and Reason of Things, as 'if we were bid to believe two to be the half Part of four.
God is Reason and Wisdom it self, and he can no more call us to any Tempers or Duties, but such as are strictly reasonable in themselves, than he can act against himself, or contradict his own Nature.
As we can say with Assurance, that God cannot lie, so we may with the fame Certainty affirm, that he cannot enjoin any thing to rational Creatures, that is contrary to the Reason of their Nature, no more than he can enjoin them to love Things that are not lovely, or hate Things that are in their Nature not hateful.
WHEN God speaks, we are as sure that infinite Reason speaks, as we are sure there is a God.
A LITTLE Reflexion upon this Matter, will give us the utmost Assurance in such Reasonings as this.
A s sure therefore as there is a God, so sure is it that a Religion from God has only reasonable Commands to reasonable
Creatures. No Tempers can be imposed upon us by Way of "Task and Imposition, which we might as reasonably be without, if it was not required of us.
God can only will, that reasonable Creatures should be more Reasonable, more Perfect, and more like Himself, and consequently can enjoin us no Duties, or Tempers of Mind, but such as have this Tendency. All his Commands are for our Sakes, founded in the Necessities of our Natures, and are only so many Instructions to become more Happy, than we could be without them.
A GOOD Man that enjoys the Use of his Reason, is offended at Madinen and Fools, because they both act contrary to the Reason of Things. The Madman fancies hinself, and every thing about him, to be different from what they are ; the Fool knows nothing of the Value of Things, is ridiculous in his Choices, and prefers a Shell before the most useful Things in Life.
Now a good Man merely through the Love of Reason, is offended at their Conduct, and would do all that he could to abate the Frenzy of the one, and the Stupidity of the other.
LET this a little represent to us the Conduct of God towards fallen Man. God is Reason it self, how highly there
fore must he be offended at the Follies and Stupidity of Mankind ? If a Madman seems so unreasonable a Creature to us, becaule he fancies himself to be something that he is not, how unreasonable must fallen Man, who is fallen from all true Knowledge of himself, appear to him who is infinite Reason 2
AGAIN, God is Goodness it self, if therefore human Goodness is inclined to endeavour the Cure of Madmen and Fools, must not Goodness it self be much more inclined to correct the Madness and Folly of fallen Man.
We see that Men are said to be Mad, when they fancy themselves and the things about them to be different from what they are ; they are said to be Fools, when they mistake the Value of Things. Now if this be true, as it most certainly is, it may serve to thew us, that Man in his present State of Disorder and Ignorance, must appear to God, both as Fool and Mad; for every Sinner is truly Mad, as he imagines himself, and all things about him, to be what they are not ; he is really a Fool, as he is ridiculous in his Choices, and mistakes the Value of Things.
Now Religion is our Cure, it is God's merciful Communication of such Rules and Discipline of Life, as may serve to deliver us from the Infatulation and Igno