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dazzles it by lifting it up as much above itself; but both of them are sure to darken the light of it. For if you either look too intently down a deep precipice upon a thing at an extreme distance below you, or with the same earnestness fix your eye upon something at too great an height above you, in both cases you will find a vertigo or giddiness. And where there is a giddiness in the head, there will be always a mist before the eyes. And thus, no doubt, it was only an ambitious aspiring after high things, which not long since caused such a woful, scandalous giddiness in some men's consciences, and made them turn round and round from this to that, and from that to this, till at length they knew not what bottom to fix upon. And this, in my opinion, is a case that admits of no vindication.

Pride, we know, (which is always cousin-german to ambition,) is commonly reckoned the forerunner of a fall. It was the devil's sin and the devil's ruin, and has been ever since the devil's stratagem; who, like an expert wrestler, usually gives a man a lift before he gives him a throw. But how does he do this? Why, by first blinding him with ambition; and when a man either can not or will not mind the ground he stands upon, as a thing, forsooth, too much below him, he is then easily justled down, and thrust headlong into the next ditch. The truth is, in this case men seem to ascend to an high station, just as they use to leap down a very great steep: in both cases they shut their eyes first; for in both the danger is very dreadful, and the way to venture upon it is not to see it.

Yea, so fatally does this towering, aspiring humor intoxicate and impose upon men's minds, that when the devil stands bobbing and tantalizing their gaping hopes with some preferment in church or state, they shall do the basest, the vilest, and most odious things imaginable; and that not only in defiance of conscience, but, which is yet more impudent and intolerable, shall even allege conscience itself as the very reason for the doing them : so that such wretches shall out of mere conscience, forsooth, betray the country that bred, and the church that baptized them, and, having first practiced a dispensing power upon all law within them, shall help to let the same loose upon all laws without them too. And when


they have done, shall wipe their mouths, and with as boon a grace and as bold a front look the world in the face, as if they expected thanks for such villainies as a modest malefactor would scarce presume to expect a pardon for.

But as for these ambitious animals, who could thus sell their credit and their conscience, wade through thick and thin, and break through all that is sacred and civil, only to make themselves high and great, I shall say no more of them but this, that, instead of being advanced to what they so much desired, it is well for them that they have not been advanced to what they so highly deserved. For this I am sure of, that neither Papists nor fanatics (both of them our mortal, implacable enemies) can conceive a prayer more fully and effectually for their own interest than this, That the church of England may never want store of ambitious, time-serving men. And if God should, in his anger to this poor church and nation, grant them this, they doubt not but in a little time to grant, or rather give themselves the rest. Let this therefore be fixed upon as a certain maxim, that ambition first blinds the conscience, and then leads the man whither it will, and that is, in the direct course of it, to the devil.

I know there are many more irregular and corrupt affections belonging to the mind of man, and all of them in their degree apt to darken and obscure the light of conscience. Such as are wrath and revenge, envy and malice, fear and despair, with many such others, even too many a great deal to be crowded into one hour's discourse. But the three forementioned (which we have been treating of) are, doubtless, the most predominant, the most potent in their influence, and most pernicious in their effect: as answering to those three principal objects which, of all others, do the most absolutely command and domineer over the desires of men ; to wit, the pleasures of the world working upon their sensuality; the profits of the world upon their covetousness; and lastly, the honors of it upon their ambition. Which three powerful incentives, meeting with these three violent affections, are, as it were, the great trident in the tempter's hand, by which he strikes through the very hearts and souls of men; or as a mighty threefold cord, by which he first hampers, and then draws the whole world after him, and that with such a rapid

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swing, such an irresistible fascination upon the understandings as well as appetites of men, that as God said heretofore, Let there be light, and there was light ; so this proud rival of his Creator, and overturner of the creation, is still saying, in defiance of him, Let there be darkness, and accordingly there is darkness; darkness upon the mind and reason ; darkness upon the judgment and conscience of all mankind. So that hell itself seems to be nothing else but the devil's finishing this his great work, and the consummation of that darkness in another world which he had so fatally begun in this.

And now, to sum up briefly the foregoing particulars : you have heard of what vast and infinite moment it is, to have a clear, impartial, and right-judging conscience; such an one as a man may reckon himself safe in the directions of, as of a guide that will always tell him truth, and truth with authority : and that the eye of conscience may be always thus quick and lively, let constant use be sure to keep it constantly open; and thereby ready and prepared to admit and let in those heavenly beams which are always streaming forth from God upon

minds fitted to receive them. And to this purpose, let a man fly from every thing which may leave either a foulness or a bias upon it; for the first will blacken, and the other will distort it, and both be sure to darken it. Particularly let him dread every gross act of sin; for one great stab may as certainly and speedily destroy life as forty lesser wounds. Let him also carry a jealous eye over every growing habit of sin; for custom is an overmatch to nature, and seldom conquered by grace; and, above all, let him keep aloof from all commerce or fellowship with any vicious and base affection ; especially from all sensuality, which is not only the dirt, but the black dirt, which the devil throws upon the souls of men; accordingly let him keep himself untouched with the hellish, unhallowed heats of lust, and the noisome steams and exhalations of intemperance, which never fail to leave a brutish dullness and infatuation behind them. Likewise, let him bear himself above that sordid and low thing, that utter contradiction to all greatness of mind, covetousness; let him disenslave bimself from the pelf of the world, from that amor sceleratus habendi ; for all love has something of blindness attending it; but the love of money

the more

especially. And lastly, let him learn so to look upon the honors, the pomp, and greatness of the world, as to look through them too. Fools indeed are apt to be blown up by them, and to sacrifice all for them ; sometimes venturing their very heads, only to get a feather in their caps. But wise men, instead of looking above them, choose rather to look about them and within them, and by so doing keep their eyes always in their heads; and maintain a noble clearness in one, and steadiness in the other. These, I say, are some of those

I ways and methods by which this great and internal light, the judging faculty of conscience, may be preserved in its native vigor and quickness. And to complete the foregoing directions by the addition of one word more; that we may surely prevent our affections from working too much upon our judgment, let us wisely beware of all such things as may work too strongly upon our affections.

If the light that is in thee be darkness, says our Saviour, how great must that darkness needs be! This is, how fatal, how destructive! And therefore I shall close up all with those other words of our Saviour, John xii., While you have the light, walk in the light : so that the way to have it, we see, is to walk in it; that is, by the actions of a pious, innocent, wellgoverned life, to cherish, heighten, and improve it: for still, so much innocence, so much light: and on the other side, to abhor and loathe whatsoever may any ways discourage and eclipse it; as every degree of vice assuredly will. And thus by continually feeding and trimming our lamps, we shall find that this blessed light within us will grow every day stronger and stronger, and flame out brighter and brighter, till at length, having led us through this vale of darkness and mortality, it shall bring us to those happy mansions where there is light and life for evermore.

Which God, the great author of both, of his infinite mercy

vouchsafe to us all; to whom be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, majesty, and dominion, both now and for evermore.


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EFORE we descend to the prosecution of the duty en-

joined in these words, it is requisite that we consider the scheme and form of them as they stand in relation to the context. They are ushered in with the adversative particle but, which stands as a note of opposition to something going before: and that we have in the immediately preceding verse, Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies. Which way of speaking has given occasion to an inquiry, whether the duty here enjoined by Christ be opposed to the Mosaic law, or only to the doctrine of the scribes and Pharisees, and their corrupt glosses thereupon; some having made this and the next chapter, not only a fuller explication and vindication of the Mosaic law, but an addition of higher and perfecter rules of piety and morality to it.

For the better clearing of which point, I conceive that the matter of all the commandments (the fourth only, as it determines the time of God's solemn worship to the seventh day, excepted) is of natural moral right, and by consequence carries with it a necessary and eternal obligation; as rising from the unalterable relation that a rational creature bears either to God, his neighbor, or himself. For there are certain rules of deportment suggested by nature to each of these ; which to deviate from, or not come up to, would be irrational, and consequently sinful. So that such duties can by no means

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