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SERM. curement and maintenance thereof, (the pains and diffiXXXII. culties to be overgone in mastering stubborn inclinations,
in moderating greedy appetites, in restraining violent parfions, in encountering frequent and strong temptations, in abstracting our minds and affections from sensible things, in affiduous watching over our thoughts, words, and actions,) together with the manifold inconveniences, crosses, and troubles, which do attend the strict practice of virtue ; that likewise here there are not ordinarily any such difcouragements affixed to vice, which do much weigh down the pleasures with which it is tempered, and the advantages waiting on it.
As for human laws, made to encourage and requite virtue, or to check and chastise vice, it is also manifest that they do extend to cases in comparison very few; and that even as to particulars which they touch, they are so easily eluded, or evaded, that without intrenching upon them, at least without incurring their edge, or coming within the verge of their correction, men may be very bad in themselves, extremely injurious to their neighbours, and hugely troublesome to the world; so that such laws hardly can make tolerable citizens, much less throughly good men, even in exterior demeanour and dealing. However, no laws of men can touch internal acts of virtue or vice; they may sometimes bind our hands, or bridle our mouths, or shackle our feet; but they cannot stop our thoughts, they cannot still our passions, they cannot bend or break our inclinations: these things are beyond the reach of their cognizance, of their command, of their compulsion, or their correction : they cannot therefore render men truly good, or hinder them from being bad.
Upon which and the like confiderations it is plain enough, that setting aside the persuasion of a future judgment, all other incentives to virtue and restraints from vice, which either common experience suggesteth or philosophical speculation may devise, are very weak and faint, and cannot reasonably promise considerable effect : the native beauty and intrinsic worth of virtue, or its suitableness to reason and the dignity of our nature; the grace and commendation with which it decketh the prac- SERM. tisers of it; its goodly, pleasant, and wholesome fruits of XXXII. manifold conveniences, of health to soul and body, of peace and amity among men, of tranquillity and satisfaction in mind, if they do not reach beyond this transitory life, cannot to the common apprehensions of men appear so considerable, or prove so efficacious, as to engage men closely and constantly to adhere thereto. Neither will the worst of evils innate or accessory to vice, its essential deformity and turpitude, or its being disagreeable to reason and dishonourable to human nature, together with the distempers, the damages, the disgraces, the disturbances apt to sprout from it,) if no more hereafter is to be feared in consequence thereof, be sufficient to deter or discourage men from it: the peril of death itself (the worst evil which men pretend to inflict, and that which our nature seemeth most to abhor) will not import much toward the diverting indigent, ambitious, or passionate men from the most defperately wicked attempts : it is the observation of Cicero, from which he inferreth the need of supposing future punishments, as the only effectual restraints from such actions; That, faith he, there might be in this life fome fear laid upon wicked men, those ancients did think good, that there should be some punishments appointed in hell for impious persons; because indeed they understood, that setting these apart, death itself was not to be fearedb.
There have been indeed vented such fine and stately no- Cic. de Fin. tions as these: that reason fimply, however attended, doth 11. challenge obedience to itself; that virtue is abundantly its own reward, and vice a complete punishment to itself; that Cic. de Leg. we should not in our practice be mercenary, regarding Sen, de what profit or detriment will accrue from it, but should be Clem. i. 1. good absolutely and gratis; that moral goods are the only defirable goods, and moral evils the only evils to be grieved at; that nothing can happen amiss to good men, and whatever their condition is, they are perfectly happy; that
Ut aliqua in vita formido improbis effet, apud inferos ejusmodi quædam illi antiqui fupplicia impiis conftituta effe voluerunt, quod videlicet intellige. bant his remotis non effe mortem ipsam pertimefcendam, Cic. Catil. 4.
SERM, nothing can truly benefit ill men, or exempt them from XXXII. misery : Cbut these and the like notions, frequently oc
curring in philosophers, as they are, (being rightly understood, or taken in a qualified sense,) fuppofing religion and a future judgment, evidently reasonable and true; (as also perhaps, even abstracting from that supposition, they may have in them a kind of slim and dulky truth, discernible to one in a thousand, who is very sharpfighted, and looketh most wistly on them; as they may be relished by a few persons of very refined fpirit, or of special improvement;) so to the common herd of people, (unto whose inclinations and capacities it is fit that the general rules of practice, and the most effectual inducements thereto, should be squared,) to men immersed in the cares, the toils, and the temptations of the world, they plainly are unsuitable; their grosser conceit cannot apprehend, their more rugged disposition will not admit such fine notions; they in effect, by the generality of men, have been slighted and exploded, as incongruous to common sense and experience, as the dictates of affectation or fimplicity; as the dreams of idle persons, addicted to speculation, and regardless of the world, such as it really doth exist, and will ever perfift, while men continue endued with the same natural inclinations and affections : so that from such notions little fuccour can be expected toward promoting virtue, or reftraining vice in the world.
Upon these confiderations the necessity or great usefulnefs of supposing a judgment doth appear; that it being cast into the scales may, to the common understanding of men, evidently render virtue more confiderable and eligible than vice; as even in confequential profit and pleafure far surpassing it.
2. Whence manifestly the same fuppofition is also neede ful for the welfare of human fociety; the which, without the practice of justice, fidelity, and other virtues, can
; • Neque bona, neque mala quæ vulgus putet; multos qui confli&tari ad
versis videantur beatos, ac plerosque quanquam magnas per opes miserrimos, fi illi gravem fortunam conftanter tolerent, hi prospera inconsulte utantur. Tac. Ann. 6.
hardly subfiftd; without which practice indeed, a body of SERM. men would be worse than a company of wolves or foxes; XXXII. and vain it were to think, that it can any where stand without conscience; and conscience, without fear checking, or hope spurring it on, can be no more than a name : all societies therefore, we may see, have been fain to call in the notion of a future judgment to the aid of justice, and support of fidelity; obliging men to bind their testimonies by oaths, and plight their troth by facraments; implying a dread of that divine judgment to which they solemnly do then appeal and make themselves accountable.
3. But farther, the persuasion concerning a future judgment is, upon peculiar accounts, most requisite to the support of religion and defence of piety.
It is certain, that no authority, upon whatever reason or equity grounded, if it do not present competent encouragements to obedient subjects, if it do not hold forth an armed hand, menacing chastisement to the refractory, will fignify any thing, or be able to sustain the respect due to it; that no laws, however in themselves equal or commodious, if a certain account or trial, backed with a dispensation of valuable rewards, and infliction of formidable punishments, be not annexed to them, will obtain any force, so as to be observed or regarded; that no obligation whatever, of duty or gratitude, will prevail upon men, if they do not apprehend themselves under a constraint to render an account, so as to be forced either to do reason, or to suffer for not doing it: so it is generally; and so it is even in regard to God, the sovereign King and Governor of the world, as piety doth suppose him: his authority will never be maintained, his laws will never be obeyed, the duties towards him will never be minded, without influence upon the hopes and fears of men; they will not yield to him any reverence, they will nowise regard his commands, if they may not from their respect and obedience expect good benefit, if they dread not a fore vengeance for their rebellion or neglect; nothing to them will seem more
& Deos agere curam rerum humanarum, ex usu vitæ eft ; pænasque maleficii, aliquando seras, nunquam autem irritas effe, &c. Plin. xi. 7.
SERM. fond, than to serve him, who doth not well requite for the XXXII. 11. performance, than to revere him, who doth not foundly punish for the neglest of his service.
Forasmuch also as piety doth require duties somewhat high and hard, as much crossing the natural inclinations and desires of men, it peculiarly, for the overruling such averfion, doth need answerably great encouragements to the practice, and determents from the transgression of what it requireth ; upon which score it may also farther appear, that temporal judgments, and recompenses here, are not sufficient to procure a due obedience to the laws of piety; for how indeed can he, that for the sake of piety doth undergo disgrace, loss, or pain, expect to be satisfied here? What other benefits can he presume upon beside those which he doth presently forfeit?
Of this particular God may seem designedly to have fet before us a pregnant instance or experiment worthy our consideration : God in a very notorious and affecting manner declared his will and law to the Jews; and, to engage them to obedience, he not only recommended it to them as very good in itself, and very convenient for them to observe; but he enforced it with promises of the greatest blessings concerning this life, that men are capable of, if they should obey; and with curses or menaces of the most dismal mischiefs imaginable in reference to this life, in case of disobedience; and that he both could and would in both respects make his word good, he did by miraculous dispensation of signal mercies and judgments most
evidently shew and assure them : yet what was the effect? Pl. cvi. 24, it was, that, as the Psalmist expresseth it, They despised the 25. lxxviii.
“ pleasant land--and hearkened not unto the voice of the
Lord : their heart was not right with God, neither were they stedfast in his covenant : they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies : they did not so value those benefits, they could not so dread those penalties, as in regard to them to perfift for any time in a steady obedience; as not easily in despite of them to be drawn into the worst of crimes prohibited to them: the sweetest enjoyinent of those good things could not hold