- The Christian has more true pleasure from the creature than the wicked,as it comes more refined to him than to the other. The unholy wretch sucks dregs and all—dregs of sin and dregs of wrath —whereas the Christian’s cup is not thus spiced. (1.) He sucks dregs of sin.The more he hath of the creature’s delights given him, the more he sins with them. Oh, it is sad to think what work they make in his naughty heart! They are but fuel for his lusts to kindle upon. Away they run with their enjoyments, as the prodigal with his bags, or like hogs in shaking time; no sight is to be had of them, or thought of their return, as long as they can get anything abroad, among the delights of the world. None so prodigiously wicked as those that are fed high with carnal pleasures. They are to the ungodly as the dung and ordure is to the swine, which grows fat by lying in it. Their hearts grow gross and fat, their consciences more stupid and senseless in sin by them; whereas the comforts and delights that God gives in to a holy soul by the creature, turn to the spiritual nourishment of his graces, and draw these forth into exercise, as they do the others’ lust. (2.) The unholy man sucks dregs of wrath. The Israelites had little pleasure from their dainties when the wrath of God fell upon them before they could get them down their throats, Ps. 78:30. The sinner’s feast is no sooner served in, but divine justice is preparing to send up a reckoning after it; and the fearful expectation of this cannot but spoil the taste of the other. But the gracious soul is entertained upon free-cost. No amazing thoughts need discompose his spirit, so as to break his draught, or make him spill any of the comfort of his present enjoyment from the fear of an approaching danger. All is well. The coast is clear. He may say with David, ‘I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety,’ Ps. 4:8. God will not—all beside cannot—break his rest. As the unicorn heals the waters by dipping his horn in them, that all the beasts may drink without danger, so Christ hath healed creature-enjoyments, that there is no death now in the saints’ cup.
Answer Third. I answer by way of affirmation. The power of holiness is so far from depriving a man of the joy and pleasure of his life, that there are incomparable delights and pleasures peculiar to the holy life, which the gracious soul finds in the ways of righteousness, enjoys by itself, and no stranger intermeddles with. They lie inward indeed, and therefore the world speaks so wildly and ignorantly concerning them. They will not believe they have such pleasures till they see them, and they shall never see them till they believe them. The Roman soldiers, when they entered the temple, and went into the holy of holies, seeing there no image, as they used to have in their own idolatrous temples, gave out in a jeer that the Jews worshipped the clouds. Truly thus, because the pleasures of righteousness and holiness are not so gross as to come under the cognizance of the world’s carnal senses, as their brutish ones do, therefore they laugh at the saints, as if their joys were but the child of fancy, and that they do but embrace a cloud, instead of Juno herself—a fantastic pleasure for the true. But let such know that they carry in their own bosom what will help them to think the pleasures of a holy life more real than thus. The horror, I mean, which the guilt of their unholy and unrighteous lives does sometimes fill their amazed consciences with, though there be no whip on their back, and pain in their flesh, tells them, the peace which results from a good conscience, may as well fill the soul with sweet joy, when no carnal delights contribute to the same, as at any other time. There are three things considered in the nature of a holy righteous life, that are enough to demonstrate it to be the only pleasant life. It is a life from God; it is a life with God; it is the very life of God.
1. It is a life from God, and therefore must needs be pleasant and joyous. Whatever God makes is good and pleasant in its kind. Now life is one of the choicest of God’s works, insomuch that the poorest, silliest gnat, or fly, in this respect, exceeds the sun in its meridian glory. To every life God hath appointed a pleasure suitable to its kind. The beasts have a pleasure suitable to the life of beasts, and man much more to his. Now, every creature we know, enjoys the pleasure of its life best when it is in its right temper. If a beast be sick, it droops and groans; and so does man also. No dainties, sports, or music please a man that is ill in his health. Now holiness is the due temper of the soul, as health is of the body, and therefore a holy life must needs be a pleasant life. Adam, I hope, in paradise, before sin spoiled his temper, lived a pleasant life. When the creature is made holy, then he begins to return to his primitive temper, and with it to his primitive joy and pleasure. O sirs! men fall out with their outward conditions, and are discontented with their rank and place in the world, but the fault lies more inward—the shoe is straight and good enough, but the foot is crooked that wears it. All would do well if thou wert well, and thou wilt never be well till thou art righteous and holy.