Imágenes de páginas

2dly, The miracles which confirmed the apostle's

Lastly, That such tradition has greater reason for
its belief, than can be suggested for its disbelief.

Thence we ought to admire the commanding ex-
cellency of faith, which can force its way through
the opposition of carnal reason, with an entire sub-
mission to divine revelation.




"Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for
wrath, but also for conscience sake."-Roм. xiii. 5.

In these words there is,

1st, A duty enjoined, namely, subjection, which
the believers of the church of Rome are commanded
to pay Nero.

2dly, The ground of this duty, "for conscience
sake," in which we are to consider, 1. The absolute
unlawfulness of resistance, notwithstanding the doc-
trine of the sons both of Rome, and of Geneva, of the
Scotch, and of the English puritans. An account
how far human laws bind the conscience. 2. The
scandal which resistance casts upon Christianity.

SERMON LIV. - P. 474.

"How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways
past finding out !"— Roм. xi. 33.

The methods of divine Providence, whereof King
Charles's return (the subject of this day's commemo-
ration) is an eminent instance, surpass all human
apprehension, and the most advanced wisdom is an
incompetent judge of the ways of God, with respect,

1st, To the reason or cause of them; for men are
prone to assign such causes as are either false, as,
that the happy in this life are the proper objects of
God's love; the miserable, of his hatred; and that
prosperity always attends innocence; and sufferings,
guilt, - or imperfect.

2dly, To the event, or issue of them; for men
usually prognosticate the event of an action, accord-
ing to the measure of the ability of second agents;
or from success formerly gained under the same, or
less probable circumstances; or according to the pre-
parations made for it, and the power employed in it.

Hence we may infer, 1. The folly of making suc-
cess the rule of our actions; 2. The necessity of
depending upon Providence; 3. The impossibility of
a rational dependence, but in the way of lawful



It being clear, that the Spirit of God in some
degree leads and helps all men, it will be necessary,
in the prosecution of these words, to shew,-

[ocr errors]

1st, How the Spirit said to be in men, namely,
two ways allowable by Scripture, either, 1. Substan-
tially, as he filleth all things; or, 2. By the effects
he produces in them; for the way pretended to by
the Familists, namely, a personal indwelling in
believers, is not to be proved either from reason or
from Scripture.

2dly, How men are led by the Spirit, namely,
1. Outwardly, by his prescribing rules of actions in
the written word; 2. Inwardly, by his illumination
of the judgment, and bending of the will; for the
way pretended to by enthusiasts, namely, his speak-
ing inwardly to them, is not allowable; because,
(1.) Scripture is by the Spirit itself declared a rule
both necessary and sufficient; (2.) That inward
speaking is seldom alleged but for the patronage of
such actions as cannot upon any other account be
warranted; (3.) It is contrary to the experience of
the generality of Christians; (4.) It opens a door to
all profaneness and licentiousness of living; (5.) No
man can assure himself or others, that the Spirit
speaks inwardly to him; neither from the quality of
the things spoke, nor from reason, Scripture, or
miracles. An examination of what the pretenders
to an immediate impulse of the Spirit plead from
several Scripture examples,-as of Abraham, Jacob,
the Egyptian midwives, Moses, Phinehas, the
Israelites, Samson, Ehud, Jael, Elijah. Four obser-
vations relating to the examination of these examples.

3dly, What is meant by being "the sons of God;"
namely, by imitation.

4thly, We may infer from the foregoing particu
lars, 1. That pretenders to such an inward voice of
the Spirit, in opposition to God's written word, are
not to be endured in the communion of a Christian
church, as being the highest reproach to religion;
nor, 2. To be tolerated in the state, as having a per-
nicious influence upon society.



From these words, a parallel is drawn between
the sins of the Jews and those of this nation, by con-
sidering in the text,

1st, The manner of God's complaint, which runs
in a pathetical interrogation, importing in it a sur-
prise grounded upon, 1. The strangeness; and, 2
The unusual indignity of the thing.

2dly, The complaint itself, wherein is included,
1. The person complaining, God himself; 2. The
persons complained of, the Jews; 3. The ground of
the complaint, which appears by observing, (1.) How
God dealt with them, by committing his oracles to
them, by his miraculous mercies, and by his judg-
ments for their correction; (2.) How they dealt
with God by way of return; and they are charged
with injustice and oppression, ver. 7, rapacity and
covetousness, ver. 8, luxury and sensuality, ver. 11,



"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they 4. The issue of the complaint, ver. 5, 6, namely, the
are the sons of God." - ROм. viii. 14.

bereaving them of all their defences, of their laws,
and military force, upon the failure of which will
follow these evils, (1.) From within, a growth of all
sects and factions; (2.) From without, to be laid
waste by a foreign enemy.

"What could have been done more to my vineyard,
that I have not done in it ?"— ISAIAH, V. 4.

[blocks in formation]

In order to prove that of all sins there is none of
greater malignity and baseness than envy, it will be
necessary to shew,

1st, What it is, and wherein its nature consists.
2dly, What are its causes, on the part. 1. Of the
person envying, namely, great malice and baseness of
nature, an unreasonable grasping ambition, an in-
ward sense of a man's own weakness, idleness; 2. Of
the person envied, namely, great natural parts and
abilities, the favour of princes and great persons,
wealth and prosperity, esteem and reputation.

3dly, What are its effects, "confusion and every
evil work," 1. To the envious person himself; 2. To
the person envied, namely, a busy prying into all his
concerns, calumny or detraction, his utter ruin and

4thly, What use and improvement may be made
of this subject, by learning, 1. The extreme vanity of
the best enjoyments of this world; 2. The safety of
the lowest, and the happiness of a middle condition;
3. The necessity of depending upon Providence.

[blocks in formation]

opposing them resolutely whenever they did which
two, namely, mouth and wisdom, being united, have
the greatest advantage. 2. The person promising,
namely, Christ. 3. The means by which that promise
was performed, namely, The effusion of the Holy

SERMON LX. - P. 522.


"To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for
an hour; that the truth of the gospel might con-
tinue with you." — GAL. ii. 5.


From the way of Saint Paul's dealing with the
schismatics of his time, a pattern may be drawn,
how to deal with our dissenters, namely, not to yield
up the least lawful, received constitution of our
church to their demands or pretences, though never
so urging and importunate. The prosecution of which
assertion shall be managed by considering,


1st, The pretences alleged by dissenters against
our church's ceremonies, - as, 1. The unlawfulness
of those ceremonies; 2. Their inexpediency; 3. Their
smallness. Which three exceptions are confuted

2dly, The consequences of yielding or giving them
up; which will appear very dangerous, if we observe,
1. The temper and disposition of those men who
press for such a compliance; 2. The effects of such
a compliance heretofore, and those which a compre-
hension is likely to produce for the future. A dis-
course upon toleration.

3dly, The good and great influence of a strict
adherence to the constitutions of our church, in pro-
curing the settlement of it, and preserving the purity
of the gospel amongst us, because it is the most
sovereign means, 1. To preserve unity in the church;
2. To beget in the church's enemies an opinion of the
requisiteness of those usages; 3. To possess them
with an awful esteem of the conscience of the gover.
nors of the church.

Lastly, a brief recapitulation made of all the fore-
alleged reasons and arguments, why (according to
Saint Paul's example and dealing with the Judaizing
Christians) we are by no means to give place in the
least to our dissenters.


[The heads of these sermons will be found at
sermon XXI., as they relate to the subject there
treated of.]






Though to prefix so great a name to so mean a piece, seems like enlarging the entrance of a house that affords no reception; yet, since there is nothing can warrant the publication of it, but what can also command it, the work must think of no other patronage than the same that adorns and protects its author. Some, indeed, vouch great names, because they think they deserve; but I, because I need such; and had I not more occasion than many others to see and converse with your lordship's candour and proneness to pardon, there is none had greater cause to dread your judgment; and thereby in some part I venture to commend my own. For all know, who know your lordship, that in a nobler respect than either that of government or patronage, you represent and head the best of universities; and have travelled over too many nations and authors to encourage any one that understands himself, to appear an author in your hands, who seldom read any books to inform yourself, but only to countenance and credit them. But, my lord, what is here published pretends no instruction, but only homage; while it teaches many of the world, it only describes your lordship, who have made the ways of labour and virtue, of doing, and doing good, your business and your recreation, your meat and your drink, and, I may add also, your sleep. My lord, the subject here treated of is of that nature, that it would seem but a chimera, and a bold paradox, did it not in the very front carry an instance to exemplify it; and so, by the dedication, convince the world, that the discourse itself was not impracticable. For such ever was, and is, and will be, the temper of the generality of mankind, that, while I send men for pleasure to religion, I cannot but expect that they will look upon me as only having a mind to be pleasant with them myself; nor are men to be worded into new tempers or constitutions: and he that thinks that any one can persuade but He that made the world, will find that he does not well understand it.

My lord, I have obeyed your command, for such must I account your desire; and thereby design, not so much the publication of my sermon, as of my obedience: for next to the supreme pleasure described in the ensuing discourse, I enjoy none greater, than in having any opportunity to declare myself your lordship's very humble servant, and obliged chaplain,


"Her ways are ways of pleasantness."-PROV. iii. 17. THE text relating to something going before, must carry our eye back to the thirteenth verse, where we shall find, that the thing, of which these words are affirmed, is wisdom: a name by which the Spirit of God was here pleased to express to us religion, and thereby to tell the world, what before it was not aware of, and perhaps will not yet believe, that those two great things that so engross the desires and designs of both the nobler and ignobler sort of mankind, are to be found in religion; namely, wisdom and pleasure; and that the former is the direct way to the latter, as religion is to both.

That pleasure is man's chiefest good, (because indeed it is the perception of good that is properly pleasure,) is an assertion most certainly true, though, under the common acceptance of it, not only false, but odious: for according to this, pleasure and sensuality pass for terms equivalent; and therefore he that takes it in this sense, alters the subject of the discourse. Sensuality is indeed a part, or rather one kind of pleasure, such an one as it


is; for pleasure in general is the consequent apprehension of a suitable object, suitably applied to a rightly disposed faculty; and so must be conversant both about the faculties of the body and of the soul respectively; as being the result of the fruitions belonging to both.

Now amongst those many arguments used to press upon men the exercise of religion, I know none that are like to be so successful, as those that answer and remove the prejudices that generally possess and bar up the hearts of men against it: amongst which, there is none so prevalent in truth, though so little owned in pretence, as that it is an enemy to men's pleasures, that it bereaves them of all the sweets of converse, dooms them to an absurd and perpetual melancholy, designing to make the world nothing else but a great monastery. With which notion of religion, nature and reason seem to have great cause to be dissatisfied. For since God never created any faculty, either in soul or body, but withal prepared for it a suitable object, and that in order to its gratification; can we think that religion was designed only for a contradiction to nature? and, with the greatest and most irrational tyranny in the world, to tantalize


and tie men up from enjoyment, in the midst of all the opportunities of enjoyment? To place men with the furious affections of hunger and thirst in the very bosom of plenty; and then to tell them, that the envy of Providence has sealed up every thing that is suitable under the character of unlawful? For, certainly, first to frame appetites fit to receive pleasure, and then to interdict them with a "Touch not, taste not," can be nothing else, than only to give them occasion to devour and prey upon themselves; and so to keep men under the perpetual torment of an unsatisfied desire: a thing hugely contrary to the natural felicity of the creature, and, consequently, to the wisdom and goodness of the great Creator. He, therefore, that would persuade men to religion, both with art and efficacy, must found the persuasion of it upon this, that it interferes not with any rational pleasure, that it bids nobody quit the enjoyment of any one thing that his reason can prove to him ought to be enjoyed. It is confessed, when, through the cross circumstances of a man's temper or condition, the enjoyment of a pleasure would certainly expose him to a greater inconvenience, then religion bids him quit it; that is, it bids him prefer the endurance of a lesser evil before a greater, and nature itself does no less. Religion therefore intrenches upon none of our privileges, invades none of our pleasures; it may indeed sometimes command us to change, but never totally to abjure them.

But it is easily foreseen, that this discourse will in the very beginning of it be encountered by an argument from experience, and therefore not more obvious than strong; namely, that it cannot but be the greatest trouble in the world for a man thus (as it were) even to shake off himself, and to defy his nature, by a perpetual thwarting of his innate appetites and desires; which yet is absolutely necessary to a severe and impartial prosecution of a course of piety: nay, and we have this asserted also by the verdict of Christ himself, who still makes the disciplines of self-denial and the cross, those terrible blows to flesh and blood, the indispensable requisites to the being of his disciples. All which being so, would not he that should be so hardy as to attempt to persuade men to piety from the pleasures of it, be liable to that invective taunt from all mankind, that the Israelites gave to Moses; "Wilt thou put out the eyes of this people?" Wilt thou persuade us out of our first notions? Wilt thou demonstrate, that there is any delight in a cross, any comfort in violent abridgments, and, which is the greatest paradox of all, that the highest pleasure is to abstain from it?

For answer to which, it must be confessed, that all arguments whatsoever against experience are fallacious; and, therefore, in order to the clearing of the assertion laid down, I shall premise these two considerations, –

1. That pleasure is, in the nature of it, a relative thing, and so imports a peculiar relation and correspondence to the state and condition of the person to whom it is a pleasure. For as those who discourse of atoms, affirm, that there are atoms of all forms, some round, some triangular, some square, and the like; all which are continually in motion, and never settle till they fall into a fit circumscription or place of the same figure so there are the like great diversities of minds and objects. Whence it is, that this object striking upon a mind thus or thus disposed, flies off, and rebounds without making any impression; but the same luckily happening upon another, of a disposition as it were framed for it, is presently catched at, and greedily clasped into the nearest unions and embraces.

2. The other thing to be considered is this: that the estate of all men by nature is more or less different from that estate, into which the same persons do or may pass, by the exercise of that which the philosophers called virtue, and into which men are much more effectually and sublimely translated by that which we call grace; that is, by the supernatural, overpowering operation of God's Spirit. The difference of which two estates consists in this; that in the former, the sensitive appetites rule and domineer; in the latter, the supreme faculty of the soul, called reason, sways the sceptre, and acts the whole man above the irregular demands of appetite and affection.

That the distinction between these two is not a mere figment, framed only to serve an hypothesis in divinity; and that there is no man but is really under one, before he is under the other, I shall prove, by shewing a reason why it is so, or rather, indeed, why it cannot but be so. And it is this: because every man in the beginning of his life, for several years, is capable only of exercising his sensitive faculties and desires, the use of reason not shewing itself till about the seventh year of his age; and then at length but (as it were) dawning in very imperfect essays and discoveries. Now, it being most undeniably evident, that every faculty and power grows stronger and stronger by exercise; is it any wonder at all, when a man, for the space of his first six years, and those the years of ductility and impression, has been wholly ruled by the propensions of sense, at that age very eager and impetuous; that then, after all, his reason beginning to exert and put forth itself, finds the man prepossessed, and under another power? So that it has much ado, by many little steps and gradual conquests, to recover its prerogative from the usurpations of appetite, and so to subject the whole man to its dictates; the difficulty of which is not conquered by some men all their days. And this is one true ground of the difference

« AnteriorContinuar »