Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

to our private interest, honour, or pleasure; employs all our parts, power, and ivealth, and all our time too, in pursuit of ourparticular advantage. Sensuality tempts a man to abandon the care and concern for his country, his friends and relations, and neglecJ the duties of his station, that he may give himself to some sottish and dishonourable vice: it prevails with him to refuse alms to the poor, ajsiftance to any publick or neighbourly good work, and even a decent, nay, sometimes a necejfary allowance to his family, that he may waste and lavish out his fortune upon some vile and expensive lust. In a word, it makes him incapable of the fatigues of civil bust" ness; and much more of the hardships and hazards of war: so that instead of imitating the glorious example of Uriah, who would not suffer himself to be courted into the enjoyment even of allowed pleasures, nor indulge himself in the tendernesses and caresses of a wife and children, while Joab and the armies of Israel were in the field; he, on the contrary, diffblves and melts down his life and fortune in uncleanness and luxury, the shame and burden of his country and his family, at a time when not only the honour, but the safety of his country lies at stake, and prince and people defend it by their toil and blood. What should I mention the R 2 lovf

love of the world? Are not the effeBs of it as visible amongst us, as deplorable? Does not this, where-ever it reigns, fill all places with bribery and corruption, falfhood, treachery, and cowardife F Worse cannot be said On't, and more needs not: for what societies can thrive, or which way can credit and reputation be supported? What treasures, what counsels, what armies, what conduct, can save a people, where these vices prevail? Let us now, on the other side, luppose selfifinej's, sensuality, and the love of the world, cashiered; and faith, hope and charity entertained in their room; what a blessed change will this effect in the world? How soon will honour and integrity, truth and justice, and a publick spirit revive? How serviceable and eminent will these render every man in his charge? These are the true principles of great and brave actions: these, these alone, can render our duty dearer to us than any temporal consideration: these will enable us to do good works, without an eye to the return they will make us: these will make it appear to us very reasonable, to sacrifice fortune, life, every - thing, when the honour of God and publick good, demand it of us. The belief and hope of heaven is a sufficient encouragement to virtue, when all others fail: the love of God, as our supreme good, will

make

make us easily surmount the consideration of expence, difficulty or hazard, in such attempts as we are sure will please him; and the love os our neighbour as our /elves will make us compassionate to his evils and wants, tender to his infirmities, and zealous of his good as of our own. How happy then would these principles make the world? And how much is it the interest of every one to encourage and propagate these, and to discountenance and suppress the contrary ones? I have done with the /raw*/ <^# of Christian Liberty; and will pals on to the third, as soon as I have made two remarks on this last paragraph. First, 'Tis very evident from what has been said in it, that solid virtue can be grafted on no stock, but that of religion: that universal righteousness can be raised on none but gospel principles ; who is be that overcomesb the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Christ? i John v. 5. I do not oppose this proposition against Jew or Gentile. God vouchsafed in sundry times and in divers manners, such revelations of his truth, and such communications of his grace, as he saw fit: and to these is their righteousness therefore, whatever it was, to be attributed; not to the law of nature or Moses. But I oppose it against the bold pretensions of libertines and atheists at this day. Honour and justice in their mouths is a vain boast; and the R 3 natural

natural power they pretend to over their own actions, to square and govern them according to the rules of right reajon, is only a malicious design to supplant the honour of divine grace; and is as false and groundless as arrogant. Alas 1 they talk of a tffcrfy which they do not understand: fordid they but once admit purity of heart into their notion of it, they would soon discern -whatstrangers they are to it. How is it possible, but that they should bs the ,servants of the body, who reject and diibelieve the dignity and pre-eminence of the soul? How is it possible, they should not be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, who either believe no God, or none that concerns himself much about us? And how can they chuse but btselstjh and sensual, and doat upon this world, who expect no better, who believe no other? Take away Providence and a life to come, and what can oblige a man to any action, that shall cross his temporal interest or his 'pleasure? What shall reward his espousing virtue, when it has no dowry, but losses, reproaches and persecutions ? What shall c«r£ him in the career of a lust, when he may commit it, not only with impunity, but, as the world sometimes goes, with honour and preferment too? Though, therefore, such men as these may possibly restrain their outward actions, yet are they all the while

enslaved

enstaved and defiled in their affeBions ; and the very liberty they boast of in their conduct and management of themselves openly', springs from their secret servitude to some vile pajston, or other. Nor yet can I be so soft and easy as to grant, thatsuch men as these either do or can arrive at the liberty they pretend to: I mean, that of regulating and governing all their outward actions by the rules of virtue. They too often throw off the disguise, which either hypocrisy or enmity to religion makes them put on; and prove too plainly to the world, that when they lay restraints on themselves in this or that fin, 'tis only to indulge themselves the more freely and securely in ethers. Secondly, My next remark is, that it is gross stupidity, or impudence, to deny a providence and another world, when the belief of both is so indispensably necessary to the well-being of this. The frame and nature of man, and the necessities of this world require both. Without these, selfishness must undoubtedly be the Predominant principle. This would breed unreasonable defires; and these would fill us with fears and jealoufies: so that a state of nature would indeed be a state of war; and our enmity against one another would not be extinguished by civil society; but only concealed and restrained, till a fit occafion for its breaking out should present

« AnteriorContinuar »