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he destroys the religion and purity of his mind much more effectually, than the other destroys the constitution and health of his body.
Some people think, that in great distresses it is proper to seek comfort in God and religious reflexions; but that in the little troubles and vexations of life, any thing that can divert the mind from them, is as well. But this is very absurd; for surely if God is our proper and suflicient comfort in great distresses, he must also be our best relief in those that are smaller. Unless it can be said, that the truths of religion are able to make us bear persecution and martyrdom with content, but not great enough to make us easy in little trials.
Secondly, To seek for relief in foolish diversions, is not only applying to a false remedy, but is also destroying the chief power of religion. For as religion has no power over us, but as it is our happiness; so far as we neglect, or refuse to make use of its comforts, so far we lessen and destroy its power over us. For it can no otherwise be the ordinary daily care of our lives, than by being our ordinary happiness and consolation in all the changes and chances of life. A Christian therefore is to make his Christianity his comfort, not only in times of great trial and sufferings, but in all the lesser vexations of life, that by this means every little occasion of grief or disquiet, may be an occasion of his being more affected with religion, and made more sensible of its true comforts.
Thirdly, Those who are for driving away the ordinary cares, and little vexations of human life by diversions, do not enough consider the nature of human life. For the little ordinary troubles of life, , make up the whole trouble of life; and the reason why so many people are full of trouble and uneasiness, is because they are unable to bear them, because they do not use the proper means. For since @very disquiet is at something or other that concerns our state and condition, there is no way of relieving us from this disquiet, but by getting right notions of our condition. If children were capable of knowing themselves, or could be taught the nature of things, we should not use such methods of pleasing them as we do; but as they cannot think and reflect, we never endeavour to reason them into content; but if they have lost one plaything,we only promise them another. The application is here very easy: for if men will make themselves happy, as children are made happy, not by considering the nature of things, but by a change of amusements, they must also expect to have the vexations and torments of children, and be, like them, laughing and crying at they know not what, all the days of their life. For children are only easily vexed, because they are easily pleased, and it is certain that they who can be pleased with things, without knowing their worth and value, must in the same degree be liable to be displeased at things, without knowing their weight and importance. And as this is the true state of childhood; so whoever is in this state, whatever his age may be, his office, his dignity in life, is yet as truly in the state and folly of childhood, as he that is but four years old: take an instance or two.
A child, whose heart is half broken at some misfortune, may perhaps be made easy with a picture of a huntsman and a pack of hounds; but if you would comfort the father that grieves for his eldest son, the hounds must be all alive, they must cry and run, and follow a hare; and this will make the father as easy as the picture made the child; such happiness will make him bear the loss of his son.
A mother comforts her little girl with a pack of cards that are finely painted : by-and-by she wants to be comforted herself; some great calamity has happened to her. Now you must not think to comfort her with painted cards, or building houses with them; her grief is too great, and she has been too long a mother, to be pleased with such things; it is only serious ombre that can dry her eyes, and remove sorrow from her heart.
I might easily multiply instances of this kind; but these are sufficient so show us, that persons of age and authority often differ only from children, as one child
may differ from another. This is the true reason why human life is so full of complaint,why it is such a mixture of ridiculous pleasures, and vain disquiets; namely, because we live in an entire ignorance of the nature of things, never considering why we are pleased with this, or displeased with that, nor any more appeal to religion to correct our judgments, than children appeal to reason to form their tempers. For if we will only play, or lull ourselves into
repose, as children are rocked to sleep, it is not to be wondered at, if like them, we cry as soon as we are awake: for every false relief that is not founded in reason, is only adding to the weakness and disorder of our nature, and making us more liable to farther vexations. For it is absolutely certain, that a person, who is made easy by vain and false satisfactions, is in the same degree capable of being made uneasy by vain and ridiculous vexations. They, therefore, who do not think it necessary to apply to religion in all the common and ordinary disquiets of life, mistake the nature of human life, not considering that it is our applying false relief to these, that is the occasion of all our troubles, and that we are weak and impatient, fretful and dissatisfied, for no other reason, but because we never made use of the right remedy against the ordinary accidents of life; for had we but learnt to bear little troubles and disappointments upon right reasons, because we are Christians, and children of God, we should find but few troubles that would have any great trial in them. And the reason why people seemingly religious, are subject to the same dulness and peeyishness, to the same vexations and variety of griefs that other people are, is this, because they make no more use of their religion on these occasions, than other people: they do not do so much as intend to keep themselves easy, thankful, and cheerful, by making religion the measure and standard of all their thoughts and judgments, in all the common chances of life, any more than those do, who have no thoughts about religion. And this is the reason why you see them as ridiculous in common life, as vainly pleased, and as foolishly vexed as other people.
For religion makes no farther difference betwixt people, than so far as it is applied. If one man is constant at church, and another is mostly absent, the difference betwixt them may yet be only the difference of frequenting and not frequenting the service of the church. For a religion only carried thus far, makes no farther difference betwist people. You must not therefore expect, that they must be different persons in the ordinary behaviour of their common life; for they may, notwithstanding this difference be equally vain and unreasonable in their ways, and equally slaves to the folly and humour of their particular temper. And all this for this plain reason, because religion, like any thing else, can have no effect but where it is applied.
Suppose a person had lame feet, and bad eyes, and that he had an oil that was an infallible cure for them both, when applied to both; if you saw him only using it for his eyes, you would not wonder that it had not cured his feet; you would know, that his anointing his eyes, could only cure his eyes; and that there was no ground to expect that his feet should be any better, till he anointed his feet: And all this for this plain reason, because things however good in themselves, can have no farther eifect than as they are applied. Now it is just thus in religion. If it consists only in devotions and public worship, it has made this alteration in a man
that it has taught him to attend to devotion and public worship; it has operated so far as he has applied it. But why must you wonder, that he is not of a wise, virtuous, and religious temper, in all the actions of bis ordinary life? Is not this wondering why the oil has not cured a man's feet, when he has never applied it to them, but has only anointed his
When the regular churchman as plainly makes religion the measure of his ordinary life, as he makes it the rule of his going to church : when he as directly uses it to this purpose, as a man anoints his eyes, who would be cured by anointing them : then you will see him as different in his ordinary life from other people, as different in his pleasures and grief, in his cares and concerns, as he is different from them in forms and regularity of worship. But till men do this; till they apply the principles of religion to all the actions of ordinary life; till they make it the measure of all their daily tempers, their joys and fears; till they think there is as much piety in being wise, and holy in their common tempers, as in being devout at church; as much sin in being vainly pleased and foolishly vexed, as in neglecting the divine service; till they thus directly apply religion to common life, as a man applies a remedy to the part that he would have cured; it is no more to be expected, that a religion of forms of worship and devotion should make a man religious in the common judgments and actions of his ordinary life, than it is to be expected that an oil, which is only applied to our eyes, should cure our feet. So that it is the manner of our ordinary life, which carries on a course of fears and cares, pleasures and amusements, loves and hatreds, suitable to our temper and condition of life; it is this manner of our ordinary life, which we think is thus left to ourselves that makes religion so insignificant in the world; it lies by, like a remedy that is unapplied; it has no