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2dly, The miracles which confirmed the apostle's
Lastly, That such tradition has greater reason for
Thence we ought to admire the commanding ex-
SERMON LIII. P. 466.
OBEDIENCE FOR CONSCIENCE SAKE, THE DUTY OF GOOD
"Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for
In these words there is,
1st, A duty enjoined, namely, subjection, which
2dly, The ground of this duty, "for conscience
SERMON LIV. - P. 474.
MAN'S INABILITY TO FIND OUT GOD'S JUDGMENTS.
The methods of divine Providence, whereof King
1st, To the reason or cause of them; for men are
2dly, To the event, or issue of them; for men
Hence we may infer, 1. The folly of making suc-
It being clear, that the Spirit of God in some
1st, How the Spirit said to be in men, namely,
2dly, How men are led by the Spirit, namely,
3dly, What is meant by being "the sons of God;"
4thly, We may infer from the foregoing particu
SERMON LVII.-P. 497.
THANKFULNESS FOR PAST MERCIES, THE WAY TO OBTAIN
From these words, a parallel is drawn between
1st, The manner of God's complaint, which runs
2dly, The complaint itself, wherein is included,
SERMONS LV. LVI.-P. 483.
ENTHUSIASTS, NOT led by THE SPIRIT OF GOD.
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they 4. The issue of the complaint, ver. 5, 6, namely, the
bereaving them of all their defences, of their laws,
"What could have been done more to my vineyard,
In order to prove that of all sins there is none of
1st, What it is, and wherein its nature consists.
3dly, What are its effects, "confusion and every
4thly, What use and improvement may be made
opposing them resolutely whenever they did which
SERMON LX. - P. 522.
FALSE METHODS OF GOVERNING THE CHURCH OF
"To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for
From the way of Saint Paul's dealing with the
1st, The pretences alleged by dissenters against
2dly, The consequences of yielding or giving them
3dly, The good and great influence of a strict
Lastly, a brief recapitulation made of all the fore-
SERMONS LXI. LXII. LXIII.-P. 534.
[The heads of these sermons will be found at
THE WAYS OF WISDOM ARE WAYS OF PLEASANTNESS.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE EDWARD EARL OF CLARENDON, LORD HIGH CHANCELLOR OF ENGLAND, AND CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXON, and one oF HIS MAJESTY'S MOST HONOURABLE PRIVY COUNCIL.
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