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end do) to the advantage of the Gospel, DISC. which resembles a fine country in the spring season, where the very hedges are in bloom, and every thorn produces a flower. The joys of the world end in forrow; but the sorrows of religion terminate in joy. “ Bles“ sed are they that mourn, for they shall “ be comforted.” And it is very observable; that our Lord enjoins his disciples not to appear abroad with a sour and gloomy countenance, but, in their converse with mankind, to preserve their usual cheerfulness, even at those seasons, when they are exercising upon themselves
act of religious discipline. “ When ye fast, be not, as the
hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may ap
pear unto men to fast. But thou, when " thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash
thy face; that thou appear not unto men " to fast, but unto thy Father, which is " in secret: and thy Father, which feeth in “ secret, shall reward thee openly."
Such, then, are the motives for culti
DISC. vating a cheerful disposition, which reason
dictates to us as men, and religion prescribes to us as Christians. You would with perhaps to know, by what means this happy temper may be acquired, and preserved.
We have before had occasion to mention the influence which the mind hath on the body. It is necessary here to take notice of the influence which the body fometimes hath on the mind, and to observe that me. lancholy is not infrequently constitutional, taking it's rise from some distemperature of the blood and juices. This has, perhaps, a share in the production and increase of what is called religious, but should rather be called irreligious melancholy, much oftener than is generally imagined. That the effect, therefore, may cease, the cause must be removed, and application must be made to the physician, rather than to the divine.
When this is not the case, but the diforder lies originally in the mind, many useful directions may be given for it's removal.
Three things more especially are to be disc. avoided by him who would possess a cheerful Spirit.
The first of these is idleness. The mind of man, being an active and restless principle, must have some matter given it to work upon, or it will turn it's force inward, and
itself. When grief proceeds from a real cause, and not from one that is imaginary, it admits of no remedy more expeditious and efficacious, than that of diverting the thoughts from the subject which occasioned it, by providing for them some other employment; as we are told of a famous Roman general, who had lost his son, that he found a cure for his forrow, in the heat and hurry of ward. And it is obvious to observe, that the sedentary and inactive, they who are retired from business, or they who were never engaged in any, are the persons that suffer most by the incursions of melancholy, from
Agricola--"In luctu bellum inter remedia erat.” Tacit. in Vitâ. See the first lines of a Poem styled the. LIBRARY, printed for Dodsley, 1781,
DISC. which, they themselves will tell us, they
have never failed to be relieved, as often as, by any extraordinary call, they have been rouzed from indolence, and forced upon action. The malady which destroys so many constitutions, and makes such numbers miserable who have nothing else to make them so, is unknown to him, whom necessity obliges to toil for his bread. With the sun he rises, full of life and vigour, to his appointed task. Upon that his attention is engaged all day, and the performance of it secures to him an uninterrupted repose at night, according to Solomon's observation : “ The sleep of a labouring man is sweet.” From all which we may venture to conclude, that happiness consists in employment, and that to be idle is to be wretched.
A second thing to be avoided is guilt. We must not only be employed, but we must be well employed. To every station Providence has annexed it's proper offices and duties. We shall always find the difcharge of these to be one source of cheer
fulness, and the consciousness of having dif- DISC. charged them will always furnith us with another. They are pleasant not only in the act, but in the remembrance. They are labours, which will have their reward from the hand of our Master in heaven. They are labours, which will end in rest eternal, and will make that rest to be sweet indeed. But what title can that man have to cheerfulness, who has done those things only which he ought not to have done? Guilt and cheerfulness cannot dwell under the same roof. It is not fit they should. The consequence of guilt unrepented and unexpiated, is the wrath of God. And he on whom the wrath of God abideth, has no reason to be cheer ful. It is folly, it is madness in him to be fo, as it must argue an utter ignorance and insensibility of his condition. The Pfalmist tells us, that “ Light is sown for the righ
teous, and gladness for the upright in “ heart;" and therefore he adds—" Rejoice “ in the Lord, ye righteous, and give thanks “ at the remembrance of his holiness.”
A third thing to be avoided, as capable