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he spared him. The latter insulted him most barbarously in his flight from his son Absalom: he gave him the most vile and scurrilous language; and not content with that, he threw stones and dust at him as he passed along: Abifhai offered to go over and kill him : but king David, instead of seconding the motion, severely reprimanded him for it; and afterwards, in his return to Jerusalem upon the defeat of Absalom, when Shimei came and submitted himself to him, he freely forgave him his crime.
Here is an example of gratitude and generosity meeting together in the same person. And most commonly indeed where we find one we find the other also. Nor need we wonder at it, for they both spring from the same ingenuous temper of mind. If I am thankful to my benefactor, it is because I feel that he hath done me good, and cannot resist the impression which his kindness makes upon me: and if I am generous and beneficent, it is because I am desirous of the felicity of my neighbour, and feel a pleasure in promoting his welfare. Now if gratitude and generosity usually go together, and proceed from the same ingenuous temper;
then then there is a nobleness in the one as well as in the other: and 'tis from this argument, viz. the nobleness of gratitude, that I am now exhorting to the practice of it. ; '
But further, the nobleness of praise and thanksgiving will appear from the consideration of its being the employment of angels. I can hardly supfpoie^that arigels pray to God, because I do not apprehend that they have any thing to pray to him. for. Prayer takes its rise from want, and weakness, and imperfection. Now these are characters whicli agree not to angels: they have all that heart can wisli, and are already completely happy; and they have no need to pray for the preservation of their beings, and the continuance of their felicity, for that they are sure of, so long as they act in conformity to reason and the laws of their Maker. The righteous God doth not act by humour and caprice: he doth not bestow happiness upon his creatures for a time, and then in an arbitrary way deprive them of it, whether they do any thing to forfeit it or no. His dispensations are always adapted to their conduct ; good, if they are good; and evil, if they are evil: therefore angels L 2 may may be sure that he will never put a period to their felicity whilst they persevere in their obedience. And if they are already in the posieffion of all that is desirable, and are sure of the continuance of it, what occasion have they to pray?
But let that be as it will: whether angels pray to God, or whether they forbear ; yet this we are sure of, that angels praise him. They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. They fall down before him that Jitteth upon the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever ; and cast their crowns before the throne, faying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power ; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Now that can never be a mean service, which angels are employed in. To be sure such noble and excellent beings have exercises suited to their noble and excellent natures. Therefore we mould be ambitious to celebrate the praises of the divine majesty, because this is the employment of angels, and by the exercise of it we do honour to ourselves, inasmuch as we shew that we are capable of the same exalted worship as the inhabitants of heaven itself.
3. I will exhort you to praise and thanksgiving, from the consideration of the pleasantness of it. The psalmist makes use of this argument to excite men to the practice of this duty, Psal. CXXXV. 3. Praise ye the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praises unto his name, for it is pleasant. And again, in Psalm CXLVH. 1. Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to Jing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant. Wisdoms ways indeed are all ways of pleasantness, after a man has been for some time inured and accustomed to them, and if we abstract from the case of persecution for righteousness sake, which doth not ordinarily happen. But still it must be acknowledged, that some duties of religion are more pleasant than others. It is more pleasant to perform acts of mercy and beneficence to our fellow creatures, than it is to subdue pride or anger, or any beloved lust. It is more pleasant to love our brethren and friends, than to love our enemies. It is more pleasant to be righteous and just in our dealings with men, L 3 than than it is to forgive those who hav«^ greatly injured us. It is more pleasant in prosperity to be charitable to the poor, than in affliction and adversity to be patient and contented. It is more pleasant to pray to God, than to mortify any beloved lust. And it j^s more pleasant to give thanks to God, than it is to pray to him: for if we pray as we ought, we pray for the pardon of our sins, and accordingly make confession of them before God: and if we do this sincerely, we are filled with sorrow and shame, and seel uneasiness in our minds at the remembrance of our guilt. But there is nothing unpleasant in praise and thanksgiving. It doth not thwart any natural appetite and inclination: it doth not dispose to sadness and melancholy: on the contrary, it dissipates them, and creates joy and gladness. It is suited to the most chearful tempers: therefore Saint James recommends it to such: h any merry let him Jing psalms, James V. 13. It must needs be a delightful exercise, for it is the employment of the saints in glory. To use the words of an ingenious Poet: