Imágenes de páginas

fort is doubtless the highest that humau nature | with a glorious eternity in reversion? In a is capable of, and may serve instead of all word, it is not what a man bas, but what he others, so it descends even to those of the is, which must make him happy: and thus, lowest condition. And the poor labouring as I liave demonstrated the utter insufficiency peasant, with his coarse fare, and a good con of riches to make men happy, so to confirm science to season and make a feast of it, feeds the high reason of our Saviour's dissuasive as cheerfully, and with as much inward satis- from covetousness, against all objections, or faction, as his great landlord or flourishing so much as pretences to the contrary, we neighbour can ; there being, for the most part, shall farther observe, that covetousness is by as much of real enjoyment under the meanest no means a certain way to procure riches ; cottage, as within the walls of the stateliest and if neither riches can make a man happy, and most magnificent palaces. For does not nor covetousness make him rich, all pleas for the honest ploughman, whose strength is his it must needs be torn up by the very roots. whole estate, and his day's work his revenue, And for this we need not assign any other carry about him as light a heart and as clear ground or cause of the strange and frequent a breast, as he who commands armies, or can disappointments which covetousness meets call thirty-five millions his own? No doubt with in the ends it drives at, if we consider he does; and his experience (an evidence too the nature of the means and instruments great to be borne down) will vouch the same. which it makes use of for the bringing of Accordingly, let any one shew me that enjoy- these ends about. Such as are fraud and ment or pleasure which men seek for from a force, schism and sedition, sacrilege and revast estate in land or moneys; and I will bellion, all of them practices carrying the shew the same, or something equal to it, full curse of God inseparably cleaving to them as high and satisfactory, in that man, who and inherent in them. And to shew this in cannot call one foot of land in the whole the principal of them, the violation of things world his own, and whose purse never reached sacred, who ever knew any family made rich beyond the present, nor kuew what it was to by sacrilege ? or any robber of the altar, but lay up for the morrow. Many, doubtless very sooner or later he fell a just sacrifice to the many such there are, who eat their bread shrine he robbed ? Covetousness may possibly with as much relish, sleep as soundly, think sometimes procure such an one a broad estate as cheerfully, and rejoice as much in their for the present, but a long one never. Wealth homely dame and ragged children, together may brave and flourish it for a while in the with their high-shoed companions, as those front and forepart of his life, but poverty who can command sea and land to their generally brings up the rear. For the justice tables, domineer over kingdoms, and set their of God is never in jest, nor does it work foot upon the necks of conquered nations. by halves in such cases; but whether by a

Content is the gift of Heaven, and not the speedy or lingering execution, by striking or certain effect of any thing upon earth; and eating through the cursed thing, it will be it is as easy for Providence to convey it with sure to make good its blow at last. A notable out wealth as with it ; it being the undeniable instance of which, we have in the faction prerogative of the first cause, that whatsoever which carried all before it in the grand rebelit does by the mediation of second causes, it lion of forty-one. Men were then factious can do immediately by itself without them. and rapacious, because they were first coveThe heavens can and do every day derive tous ; and none more so, than a pack of water and refreshment upon the earth with- incendiaries, who had usurped the name of out either pipes or conduits, though the weak- ministers of the gospel. For these were the ness of human industry is forced to fly to men, who with such rage and vehemence these little assistances to compass the same preached down episcopacy and the established effects. Happiness and comfort stream im- government of the church, in hopes to have mediately from God himself, as light issues had a great part, at least, of the revenues of it from the sun, and sometimes looks and darts bestowed upon them for their pains. But, itself into the meanest corners, while it for- alas, poor tools ! they understood not the bears to visit the largest and the noblest work they were employed in; for the layrooms. Every man is happy or miserable, as grandees, their masters, (who had more wit the temper of his mind places him, either with their godliness,) meant no such thing : directly under, or beside the influences of the no, the hunters never intended that the divine nature; which enlighten and enliven hounds should eat the hare; but though the disposed mind with secret, ineffable joys, their throats, their noise, and their fangs and such as the vicious or unprepared mind were made use of to run it down, and catch is wholly unacquainted with. “We have it, yet, being once caught, they quickly found nothing, and yet we possess all things,” says that it was to be meat only for their masters ; the apostle, (2 Cor. vi. 10.) And can a greater and that, whatsoever became of the constituhappiness be imagined, than that which gives tion of the church, effectual care was taken a man here all things in possession, together that the lands of it should go another way,

And in good earnest it would fare but very ill with mankind, if all that the mouth gapes for, the hand should be able to grasp. But, SERMON XLVIII. thanks be to God, innumerable are the ways which Providence has, (some of them visible NO MAN EVER WENT TO HEAVEN, WHOSE and some secret and invisible, but all of them

HEART WAS NOT THERE BEFORE. certain,) by which it crosses and confounds the greedy wretch even in his most refined con PREACHED AT CHRIST CHURCH, OXON, BEFORE THE trivances and arts of getting; and thereby

UNIVERSITY, OCTOBER 15, 1699. gives the world a convincing proof, one would “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." think, (if experience could convince men,)

MATT. vi. 91. that it is God, and God alone, who (as Moses said to the Israelites) “must teach men to

As man is naturally a creature of great get wealth,” as well as enable them to enjoy want and weakness, so he does as naturally it. And consequently, that for a man to be carry a most intimate and inseparable sense covetous and poor too, a miser and yet a

of that want and weakness about him: and beggar, is no such paradox, as to imply because a state of want must needs be also a either an inconsistency in the thing itself, or

state of uneasiness, there is nothing which a contradiction in the terms.

nature puts a man with so much force and And now, in the last place, having finished earnestuess upon, as to attempt a supply and the subject before us, in the several parti- relief of the wants which he is so sensible of, culars proposed to be discoursed of by us; let and so incommoded by. Insomuch that the us sum up, and recapitulate all in a few words,

whole course of his actings, from first to last, namely, that since it is natural for men to proceeds in this method. First, that every design to make their lives as happy as they action which a man does, is in order to his can; and since they promise themselves this compassing or obtaining to himself some good happiness from riches, and thereupon use thereby. Aud secondly, that he endeavours covetousness as the surest means to attain to compass or obtain this good, because he these riches ; and yet, upon all the foregoing desires it. And thirdly and lastly, that he accounts, it is manifest, that neither can

desires it, because he wants it; or at least covetousness certainly procure riches, nor thinks that he does so. So that the first riches certainly procure a man this happiness ; spring, which sets all the wheels and faculties it must follow, by an unavoidable inference, of the soul agoing, is a man's apprehension that covetousness must needs be in the same of some good wanting to complete the happidegree irrational, in which riches are to this ness of his condition. great end ineffectual ; and consequently, that But as every good is not in the same dethere is as little reason for avarice, as there is gree contributive to this happiness, so neither religion in it. And therefore that the covet is it in the same degree desirable: and thereous person (whatsoever he may seem, either fore, since want, as we have noted, is still the in his own or the world's opinion,) is in truth measure, as well as ground of desire, that neither rich, reasonable, nor religious; but which answers all the wants, and fills all the chargeable with all that folly, and liable to vacuities of a rational nature, must needs be all that misery, which is justly the shame the full and ultimate object of its desires. and portion of those, who, according to those

And this was called by the philosophers, other excellent words of our Saviour, in the

man's summum bonum ; and here, by our 21st verse of this chapter, “ lay up treasure Saviour, man's treasure; both expressions for themselves, and are not rich towards importing a good, so comprehensively great, God.

and equal to all the appetites of nature, that To whom (as the sole giver of all happi- the presence and possession of this alone ness, whether with or without riches) be

renders a man happy, and the want or abrendered and ascribed, as is most due, all sence of it miserable. Upon which account, praise, might, majesty, and dominion, both though it be impossible that this prime or now and for evermore. Amen.

chief good should admit of any plurality, so as to be really more than one, yet in regard men take it in by their apprehensions, which are so exceedingly subject to error and deception, even in their highest concerns, and since error is various, and indeed infinite; hence it is, that this treasure, or summum bonum, falls under a very great multiplicity ; this man proposing to himself one thing, and that man another, and a third something else for his chiof good; and that, from which alone he expects all that happiness and satisfaction,

which the condition of his nature renders so impossible is it, that desire should wholly him either capable or desirous of.

lie still. For though the soul had actually all Now the words of the text may be consi that it could enjoy, yet then desire would run dered two ways,

out into the future, and from the present fruiI. As they are an entire proposition in tion project the continuance and preservation themselves. And,

of its beloved object. In short, what blood is II. As they are an argument relating to and to the body, that desire is to the soul; and as enforcing of a foregoing precept, in the 19th the blood will circulate while the body lives, and 20th verses ; and accordingly, in the pro so desire will act and range about while the secution of them, we shall take in both consi- soul subsists; and nothing but the annihiladerations.

tion of one can supersede or stop the motion And first, if we take them, as they are an of the other. entire proposition in themselves, so they offer And the truth is, this innate restlessness of us these two things,

desire implanted in the soul of man, is the 1. Something supposed, which is, that every eat engine by which God would draw it to man has something or other which he accounts himself; and if men would be so far true to his treasure, or chief good. And,

themselves, and to the most ruling principles 2. Something expressly declared, namely, of their nature, as to keep desire still upon the that whatsoever a man accounts his treasure, advance, till it fixed upon something which or chief good, upon that he places his heart, would absolutely and fully satisfy it, it were his whole desires and affections. And, impossible but that, in the issue, it should

I. For the thing supposed or implied in the terminate in God.' But that which makes words; to wit, that every man has something this great principle so ineffective of any true or other which he accounts his treasure, or happiness to man is, that he does not carry it chief good. The truth and certainty of which constantly and directly forward, but often proposition will appear founded upon these suffers it to recur, or turn aside to former two things,

false satisfactions ; first tasting an object, and 1. The activity of man's mind. And, then, upon trial, leaving it for its emptiness ; 2. The method of his acting. And,

and yet afterwards returning to it again, from 1. For the first of these. The mind of man a vain hope to speed better than he had done is of that spirituous, stirring nature, that it is before. So that by this means there is a conperpetually at work. Something it is still in tinual restless circulation from one empty pursuit of, either by contemplation or desire : thing to another. The soul, in this case, being the foundation of which latter, I shew, was just like a sick man, still altering his postures want; and consequently, as man will be al- in order to his ease ; though, when he has ways wanting something or other, so he will be tried all, he finds no more ease in one than in always sending forth his desires to hunt after, another; a certain demonstration, that the and bring that thing in, which he wants: which soul itself, in the present state of nature, is in is so true, that some men having compassed a most deplorably sick and disordered condithe greatest and noblest objects of their desires, tion. But, (so that desire could no longer ascend, as being Secondly, the second argument to prove, already at the top,) they have betook them that every man has something or other which selves to inferior and ignoble exercises ; so that be accounts his treasure, his peculiar, or chief amongst the Roman emperors, (then lords of good, shall be taken from the method of his a great part of the world,) we find Nero at actings, which still proceeds by a direction of his harp, Domitian killing flies, and Commo means to one great and last end. For as an dus playing the fencer; and all this only to infinite progress is exploded, in all matters of busy themselves some way or other; nothing ratiocination, as absurd and impossible, so it being so grievous and tedious to human nature is equally absurd in matters of practice ; it as perfect idleness.

being not more necessary to assign and fix But now, there is not any thing (though some first principle of discourse, than to state never so mean and trivial) which a man does, some last end of acting ; all a man's practices but he antecedently designs himself some hanging loose and uncertain, unless they are satisfaction by the doing of it; so that he governed and knit together by the prospect advances to every action as to a degree of hap- of some certain end. piness, as to something which, according to its Now it is the same thing which sustains these measure and proportion, will gratify or please several denominations of " last end," “ chief him, and without which he would be in that good,” or “treasure," all and every one of them degree uneasy and troublesome to himself. signifying neither more nor less than the The spirit of a man, like a flame, being of such grand and ultimate term, to which a rational an operative, and withal of such a catching agent directs all his actions and desires : every quality, that it is still closing in with some inan naturally and necessarily intending soine desirable, suitable good, as the food that one principal thing; to the acquiring of nourishes, and the subject that supports it ; which, all that he does, thinks, or desires, is

subservient, and in which, as in a kind of but the extraordinary and invincible love centre, all his actions meet and unite.

which he bore to her? And what makes the For though a man has not continually and trader into foreign countries defy the winds actnally the prospect of that end in every one and the seas, and hazard the safety which he of his actions, yet he has it habitually and actually has and loves, but the wealth which virtually ; forasmuch as, being once designed he loves more? All the stupendous instances by him, all his actions tend to and promote of courage, patience, industry, and the like, the compassing of it: as it is not necessary which bave so swelled the volumes of history, that a traveller should have his journey's end and amused the world, bave been but the in bis thoughts every step that he takes ; but effects of great and victorious desire ; they are it is enough that he first designs it, and in the all of them but the instruments of love, to strength of that design is by every step carried compass the things which men have first set nearer and nearer to it: every man has some their hearts upon : so that when courage takes prime, paramount object, which employs his the field for battle, we may be sure that it is head, and fills his heart, rules his thoughts, desire which leads it on; filling the mind with and, as it were, lies in his bosom ; avd is tó glorious ideas of the prize it contends for. All him above and instead of all other enjoyments the noble violences done to nature have been whatsoever. And thus much for the thing resolvable into this cause ; pay, the very resupposed or implied in the words, namely, straints of appetite have been but the effects that every man has some peculiarly valued of an appetite more controlling and predomithing, which he accounts his treasure, or chief nant. good. But,

What is it that a man more naturally affects 2. The other thing to be considered by us than society and converse ? (it being a kind is that which is expressly declared in the text, of multiplication of himself into every person namely, that whatsoever a man places his of the company he converses with.) And treasure or his chief good in, upon that he what, by consequence, can be more uneasy to places his heart also. Where, according to this won monotoxòy, this sociable creature, than the language of Scripture, the word heart coin the dry, pensive retirements of solitude ? pendiously denotes to us all the powers and Nevertheless, when a nobler thing shall have faculties of mau's soul, together with their seized his imagination, and his desires have respective motions and operations. And since took a flight above the first inclinations of his the word treasure is a metaphorical term for nature, by inspiring him with the diviner a man's prime or chief good, we are to take love of knowledge, or being serviceable to his an account how a man prosecutes this good, country ; why then, he can with delight refrom the analogy of those actious which he treat into his cell, dwell with himself, and exerts with reference to a treasure ; and converse with his own thoughts, and, in those which, I conceive, may be reduced to these higher speculations, forget all his merry-meetfour. As,

ings and companions ; nay, and his very food 1. A restless and laborious endeavour to and rest, and live not only above the pleasures, acquire and possess himself of it. There is no but almost above the wants of nature too. man who heartily and in good earnest desires Solomon tells us, (Prov. xviii. 1,) that, to be rich, or great, or learned, who can be idle. “ through desire, a man having separated For desire is the spring of diligence, and the himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all heart infallibly sets both head and hands, and wisdom.” So that it is this mighty thing, every thing else on work. Great desire is like desire, which makes a man break off, and sea great fire, and all difficulties before it are quester himself from all those jollities, those like stubble ; it will certainly make its way airy, empty diversions, which use to court and through them, and devour them. From win the appetites of vulgar souls. Thus nawhence it is, that it generally proves so dan- ture, we see, is forced to bend to art; art is gerous, and too often fatal, to stand between the daughter and issue of necessity ; and the a man (especially if in place and power) and standard and measure of this necessity is dethat which he most desires ; and many inno- sire ; desire, which nothing almost can withcent and brave persons have to their cost stand or set bounds to ; which makes paths found it so. For dangers and death itself over the seas; turns the night into day; and shall be nothing; conscience and religion no in a word, charges througlı hunger and poverty, thing; nay, the very hopes of heaven and the and all those hardships which human nature fears of hell shall be accounted as nothing, is so apt to shrink under ; but it wiil, at when a furious, headstrong desire shall resolve length, arrive at the satisfaction which it is in to break through them all; and, like Hanni- pursuit of. bal in his march, cut through rocks and moun What high and vast achievements does the tains, till it either finds or makes a way to its apostle, in the 11th of the Hebrews, ascribe to beloved object. What made Jacob' think faith! As the “subduing of kingdoms, stopthose seven years of hard service for Rachel ping the mouths of lions, quenching the viobut a few days, as it is said in Gen, xxix. 20, lence of fire, out of weakness making men

strong," and that to such a degree, as to endure chamber, and take physic, (as none generally tortures, cruel mockings, scourgings, bonds need it more ;) but will he look upon the and imprisonments ; nay, and to be stoned, potion with the same eye with which he uses sawn asunder, and slain with the sword.” to see the wine sparkle in the glass ? or rejoice But how did faith do all this? Why, in the in the company of his physician as much as strength of love ; faith being properly the eye in that of his boon companions? No, the of the soul, to spy out and represent to it those actions of pleasure carry quite differing signs excellent, amiable things, the love and desire and marks upon them from such as are forced ; of which should be hotter than fire and marks, above all the arts of dissimulation or stronger than death ; bearing a man through the powers of compulsion. For so far as any and above all the terrors of both, for the ob- thing pleases the heart, it cominands it; and taining of so transcendent a good. In short, the command is absolute, and the obedience faith shews the soul its treasure ; which being cheerful. once seen by it, naturally inflames the affec 3. Whatsoever a man accounts his treasure, tions; and they as naturally engage all the from that he derives the last support of his faculties and powers of soul and body, in a mind in all his troubles. Let an ambitious restless, indefatigable endeavour after it. And man lose his friends, his health, or his estate; thus, in all those heroic instances of passive yet, if the darling of his thoughts, his honour fortitude, faith wrought by love, and therefore and his fame, continue eutire, his spirit will it wrought wonders.

still bear up. And let a voluptuous man be 2. Whatsoever a man accounts bis treasure, stripped of his credit and good name, his that he places his whole delight in ; it enter- pleasures and sensuality, in the midst of all tains his eye, refreshes his fancy, feeds his his disgrace, shall relieve him. And lastly, to thoughts, and, next to his conscience, affords name no more, let a covetous miser have both him a continual feast. It fills and answers pleasure and honour taken from him, yet so all his capacities of pleasure ; and to please, long as his bags are full, and the golden heaps we know, is much more than barely to sup- glister in his eyes, his heart will be at ease, port. It is the utmost limit of enjoyment; and other losses shall affect him little; they the most refined part of living ; and, in a may possibly raze the surface, but they descend word, the last and highest thing which nature not into the vitals of his comforts. looks for. It quenches a man's thirst, not The reason of all which is, because an only as water, which just keeps nature alive, ambitious person values honour, a voluptuous but as wine, which both sustains and gratifies man pleasure, and a covetous wretch wealth, it too ; and adds a pleasure, as well as serves a above any other enjoyment in the world; all necessity.

other things being but tasteless and insipid to Nothing has so strong and fast a hold upon them, in comparison of that one which is the the nature and mind of man, as that which sole minion of their fancy, and the idol of their delights it: for whatsoever a man delights to affections. And accordingly it would be found do, by his good will he would be always doing; but a vain and fruitless attempt, to go about delight being that which perpetuates the union to move the heart of any of these persons, but between the will and the object, and brings by touching upon the proper string that ties them together, by the surest, the most volun and holds it ; so that the way to humble and tary and constant returns. And from hence, bring down an ambitious, aspiring man, is to by the way, we may affirm it as a certain, disparage him, to expose and shew his blind unfailing truth, that no man ever was or can side, (which such kind of persons never fail be considerable in any art or profession what to have ;) and the most effectual course to soever, which he does not take a particular make a covetous man miserable, in the right delight in ; for that otherwise he will never sense, is to impoverish him : and when such heartily and assiduously apply himself to it ; a change of condition once passes upon such nor is it morally possible that he should. persons, they become like men without either

Men indeed, in the course of this world, are life or spirit, the most pitiful, forlorn, abject brought to do many things, mere necessity creatures under heaven, and full of that comenforcing them, and the want and weakness plaint of Micah, iu Judges xviii. 24, “Ye of their condition creating that necessity. have taken away my gods, and what have I But still, in all such cases, the man goes one more?" For whatsoever a man accounts his way, and his desires another; for he acts but chief good, so as to suffer it to engross and as a slave under the eye of a severe master ; take up all his desires, that he makes his god, the dread of some greater suffering making that he deifies and adores, whether he knows him submit to the disciplines of a less. But so much or no. For certain it is, that if he unshackle his nature, and turn his desires would lay out himself never so much in the loose, and then you shall see what he will acts of religion, he could do no more even to choose in order to his pleasure, and the free God himself than love him, trust in him, and uurestrained enjoyment of himself. An epi rely upon him, and, in a word, give hiin his cure may be brought to confine himself to his beart; nor indeed does God require auy more ;

« AnteriorContinuar »