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The Right Honourable
Lady FRANCES SHIRLEY.
F Christianity was inconfiftent with true Politeness, or prejudicial to real Happiness, I should be extremely injudicious, and inexcufably ungrateful, in fenting these Effays to your LA But as the Religion of JESUS grand Ornament of our Nature,
and a Source
Source of the fublimeft Joy, the Purport of the following Pages cannot be unworthy the Countenance and Protection of the most accomplished Perfon. Neither can there be a Wish, more fuitable to the Obligations or the Dictates of a grateful Heart, than that You may experience what You read, and be what You tronize.
DID Religion confift in a formal Round of external Obfervances, or a forced Submiffion to fome rigorous Aufterities, I fhould not fcruple to join with the Infidel and the Senfualift, to dread it in one View, and to despise it in another. You need not be informed, MADAM, that it is as much fuperior to all fuch low and forbidding Singularities, as the Heavens are higher than the Earth. It is described by an Author, who learnt its Theory in the Regions of Paradife, and who difplayed its Efficacy in his own
moft exemplary Conversation-It is thus described by that incomparable Author; The Kingdom of GOD, is not Meat and Drink, but Righteousness, and Peace, and Joy in the HOLY GHOST.
To be reconciled to the Omnipotent GOD-To be interested in the unsearchable Riches of CHRIST-To be renewed in our Hearts, and influenced in our Lives, by the fanctifying Operations of the Divine SPIRIT-This is evangelical Righteousness. This is genuine Religion. This, MADAM, is the Kingdom of GOD eftablished in the Soul.How benign and inviting is fuch an Inftitution! How honourable and advantageous fuch a State! And from fuch Privileges, what other Effects can flow, but that Peace, which passeth all UnderStanding? That Joy, which is unspeakable and glorious?
Is there any Thing in the Amusements of the Gay, and Pursuits of the Ambitious, of greater, of equal, of comparable Value? Is not all that Wealth can purchase, all that Grandeur can beftow, fomewhat like thofe glittering Bubbles, which when viewed are Emptiness, when grafped are Nothing? Whereas, the Comforts, the Benefits, the Hopes of Chriftianity, are at once fupremely excellent, and infinitely durable. A Portion, fuited to the Dignity of a rational Soul; large as its Faculties, and immortal as its Being.
ALL thefe Bleffings are centered in CHRIST; were purchased by CHRIST; are communicated from CHRIST.— It is for want of knowing thofe boundless and everlasting Treasures of pardoning, justifying, faving Merit, which the LORD JESUS CHRIST poffeffes,