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our Minds; it is as dangerous therefore to indulge these Tempers, as to live in Gluttony and Intemperance.
You think it shameful to be an Epicure, you would not be suspected to be fond of Liquor, you think thefe Tempers would too much spoil all your Pretences to Religion; you are very right in your Judgment, but then proceed a Step farther, and think it as shameful to be fond of Dress, or delighted with your self, as to be fond of Dainties, and that it is as great a Sin to please any corrupt Temper of your Heart, as to please your Palate ; remeniber that Blood heated with Passion, is like Blood heated with Liquor, and that the Grolness of Gluttony is no greater a Contrariety to Religion, than the Politeness of Pride, and the Vanity of our Minds.
I HAVE been the longer upon this Subject, trying every Way to represent the Weakness and Corruption of our Nature, because so far as we rightly understand it, so far we see into the Reasonableness and Necellity of all religious Duties. If we fanfy our selves to be wise and regular in our Tempers and Judgments, we can see no Reason for denying our selves; but if we find that our whole Nature is in Disorder, that our Light is Darkness, our Wifdom Foolishness, that our Tempers and
Judgments are as gross and blind as our Appetites, that our Senses govern us as they govern Children, that our Ambition and Greatness is taken up with Gugaws and Trifles, that the State of our Bodies is a State of Error and Delusion, like that of Drunkenness and Passion.
If we see our selves in this true Light, we shall see the whole Reason of Christian Self-denial, of Meekness, and Poverty of Spirit, of putting off our old Man, of renouncing our whole Selves, that we may fee all Things in God; of watching and Prayer, and mortifying all our Inclinations, that our Hearts may be mov’d by a Motion from God, and our Wills and Inclinations be directed by the Light and Wisdom of Religion.
RELIGION has little or no hold of us, till we have these right Apprehensions of our selves; it may serve for a little Decency of outward Behaviour, but it is not the Religion of our Hearts, till we feel the weekness and disorder of our Nature, and embrace Piety and Devotion, as the Means of recovering us to a State of Perfection and Happiness in God.
A MAN that thinks himself in Health, cannot lament the Sickness of his State.
If we are pleased with the Pride and Vanity of our Minds, if we live in Plea
sure and Self-fatisfactions, we shall feel na meaning in our Devotions, when we lament the Misery and Corruption of our Nature. We may have Times and Places to mourn for Sins, but we shall feel no more inward Grief, than hired Mourners do at a Funeral.
So that as the Corruption of our Nature, is the Foundation and Reason of Selfdenial, fo a right Sense and Feeling of that Corruption, is necessary to make us rightly affected with the Offices and Devotions of Religion.
I SHALL now shew, that the reasonableness and necessity of Self-denial, is also founded upon another fundamental Doctrine of Religion, namely, the Necessity of Divine Grace, which I shall leave to be the Subject of the following Chapter.
of the Neceffity of Divine Grace,
and the several Duties to which it calleth all Christians.
COME now to another Article of our Religion, namely, the absolute Necessity of Divine
Grace, which is another universal and constant Reason of Self-denial.
The invisible Operation and Allistance of God's Holy Spirit, by which we are dispos’d towards that which is good, and made able to perform it, is a confess’d Doctrine of Christianity.
Our natural Life is preserved by some Union with God, who is the Fountain of Life to all the Creation, to which Union we are altogether Strangers; we find that we are alive, as we find that we think, but how, or by what Influence from God our Life is supported, is a Secret into which we cannot enter. It is the fame Thing
with Relation to our spiritual Life, or Life of Grace, it arises from some invisible Union with God, or Divine Influence, which in this State of Life we cannot comprehend. Our blessed Saviour faith, The Wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the Sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; fo is every one that is born of God (a). This fhews us, how ignorant we are of the manner of the Operations of the Holy Spirit ; we may feel its Effe&s, as we may perceive the Effects of the Wind, but are as much Strangers to its manner of coming upon us, as we are Strangers to that exact Point, from whence the Wind begins to blow, and where it will cease.
The Spirit of God is like the Nature of God, too high for our Conceptions, whilst we are in these dark Houses of Clay. Butourbleffed Saviour has in some Degree help'd our Conceptions in this Matter, by the manner of his giving the Holy Spirit to his Disciples. And he breathed on them, and said unto them, receive the Holy Ghost. Now by this Ceremony of breathing, we are taught to conceive of the Communications
(a) John iii. &.