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those things that had a ravishing force upon them in their unsettled youth. *
But when the mind is tainted with a false esteem of present things, (as it is in all those who are in a state of polluted nature) it leads the will and affections to pursue riches and dignities. Carnal wisdom is distinguished by St. James into three kinds ; it is “ earthly, sensual, devilish,” with respect to the tempting objects in the world, riches, pleasures, honours. The sensual wisdoin is in contriving and appointing the means that may accomplish the desires of the flesh. After the flesh is satisfied, the earthly wisdom designs earthly things, and uses such means as are fit to obtain them: to ascend in power and command, or to raise estates, with wretched neglect of the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, that should be sought in the first place, and with the most ardent affections and endeavours. In conjunction with this, the devilish wisdom is practised'; for pride and ambition are satan's original sin, as envy and slander are his actual sins. He is continually vexed at the recovery of fallen man, and is his constant accuser. And whilst men are eagerly contending for the world, they are excited from interest and envy, to blast and defeat their concurrents that would be superior or equal to them. This worldly wisdom, though a more solemn folly, yet is as woful and pernicious as the sensual wisdom; for God is injuriously robbed of his right, our highest esteem and affections; and men deceived with the poor pageant of the world, neglect their last and blessed end, and justly perish for
Old age has its peculiar vices. It is true, it mortifies the affections to some vanities. Vespasian the Roman emperor was so tired with the pomp of his triumph, that in the triumphant way, he often reproached himself, that being an old man he was engaged in such an empty and tedious show.' And Charles the fifth, in his declining age, preferred the shade of a cloister before the splendour of the empire. But it is attended with other vicious inclinations. Old men are usually querulous, impatient, discontented, suspicious, vainly fearful of contempt or want: and from thence, or some other secret cause, are covetous and sordid
Conversis studiis ætas animusq; virilis. Quærit opes, & amicitias, in. servit honori.
in sparing against all the rules of reason and religion. Covetousness is styled by the apostle, “ The root of all evil ;” and as the root in winter retains the sap, when the branches have lost their leaves and verdure, so in old age, the winter of life ; covetousness preserves its vigour when other vices are fallen off. Usually the nearer men approach to the earth, they are more earthly-minded, and which is strange to amazement, at the sunset of life, are providing for a long day. Briefly, every age has its special vices suitable to the constitution of men's bodies in them, and we must accordingly make our inquiry to discover our own sin.
The connexion of the passions duly observed, will discover the predominant lust. The passions are the motions of the sensitive appetite, whereby the soul approaches to an object that is represented under the pleasant colours of good, or flies from an apprehended evil. They are called passions, because in those motions there is a flowing or ebbing of the spirits and humours, from whence a sensible change is caused in the body, and the soul is in unquiet agitations. It is very difficult to know their original, though the sensible operations are very evident: consider the soul as a spirit, it is exempt from them; the spirit, as a soul, is liable to them. Whether they are derived from the soul to the body, or from the body to the soul, is hard to determine. They are of excellent use, when subordinate to the direction of the renewed mind, and the empire of the sanctified will : when in rise, degrees, and continuance, they are ordered by the rule of true judgment. What the winds are in nature, they are in man: if the air be always calm without agitation, it becomes unhealthful, and unuseful for maintaining commerce between the distant parts of the world : † moderate winds purify the air, and serve for navigation. And thus our voluble passions are of excellent use, and when sanctified, transport the soul to the divine world, to obtain felicity above. But when they are exorbitant and tempestuous, they cause fearful disorders in men, and are the causes of all the sins and miseries in the world. From hence it is that sin in the scripture is usually expressed by lust; “ The lusts of the flesh are manifest : those who are Christ's, have crucified
* In frigidis semipibus vehementius inardescit.
+ Ad ulteriora noscenda.
the flesh, with the affections and lusts thereof." Gal. 5. “ Every man that is tempted, is tempted of his own lust.” Jam. 1. The reason is, because the corrupt desires of the soul, when inflamed, are the springs of its actings, and strongly engage the mind and will, and all the active powers, to procure their satisfaction.
Now sin being the obliquity of the desiring faculty, we may discover what is the predominant sin, by considering what affectiòn is most ardent and violent, and consequently most depraved and disordered : and this we may, by observing the connexion between them ? for they generate one another. As the diseases of the body, though the disorder of nature, yet have certain causes, and a regular course in their accession, inflammation, and revolution: as in the changes of an ague, a shivering cold is attended with a fiery heat, and that with an overflowing sweat ; in like manner the irregular passions are productive of one another. Love is the radical affection, and when it leads to a desired object, has always hatred in the rear, if disappointed and crossed in its desires : so joy in the fruition of a dear object, is attended with grief, that lies in ambush, and immediately seizes upon the soul when the object is withdrawn. And as in the vibrations of a pendulum, the motion is always as strong in proportion one way, as it was the other : so according to the excess of love, will be the excess of grief. Of this we have an eminent instance in David, whose sorrow for the death of his rebellious son was as immoderate, as his love the cause of it.
2. I shall now consider the moral causes of habitual sins, the various circumstances of our lives, that are influential to give a custom to nature, and viciousness to custom. As the sea has rocks and sands, gulphs and currents, tempests and calms, so the present life has symbolically in its different states, that endanger us in our passage to the next world. The different conditions of life I will consider under four heads.
1. The several callings wherein men are engaged.
2. The opposite states of prosperity or adversity that are attended with suitable temptations.
3. The society with whom we are conversant. 4. The quality of the times wherein we live. 1. Let us search for the predominant sin in the callings wherein we are engaged; for according to their quality, temptations surround us, , and are likely to surprise us. The spider spins his web, where flies usually pass to entangle and destroy them: so the subtile tempter lays his snares in our callings wherein we are conversant. John the Baptist therefore, when the publicans addressed to him for instruction, “Master, what shall we do ? said to them, exact no more than what is appointed you : and to the soldiers he said, do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages :" he warns them against rapine, and force, and injurious accusing others, of which sins publicans and soldiers were usually guilty. I will, to be the more instructive, particularly consider some callings, and the sins that evidently attend them.
The sacred calling of ministers does not secure them from temptations; but such is the corruption of their hearts, and of the world, that it exposes them to dangerous temptations. The devil scales us on the temple-side, and often gets possession of our hearts. Ministers are often guilty of a spiritless formality in the managing holy things. In the composing of sermons, the mind is exercised about the matter, order, and expressions, without holy affections suitable to divine truths : partly, because from custom the most solemn and concerning things pass through the soul without serious regard and application; and partly, because the ministerial office obliging us to furnish ourselves with the knowledge of the admirable mysteries of godliness for the instruction of others, we are apt to make that the only end of our studies; like vintners that buy great quantities of wine for sale, and not for their own use. There is not in many ministers a spark of that heavenly fire which the reflective meditation on spiritual and eternal truths inspires into the soul, which our Saviour came to kindle. Their knowledge is not lively and operative, but like a winter's sun that shines without vital heat. If they are enriched with rare talents, they are apt to profane that holy ordinance of preaching, by secret aims and desires of vain-glory: the temptation is more dangerous, because esteem and praise for intellectual excellencies that are peculiar to man, and wherein the eminence of his nature consists, are very pleasing, even to those who are of an unspotted conversation, and free from carnal pollutions.
Chrysostom confesses of himself, * that when he preached to a thin auditory, his words died on his lips, and his spirit was quenched; but when he was encompassed with a numerous full assembly, his spirit was inflamed, and he breathed fire. The attention and applause of the hearers, the regarding one another with wonder, as if never man spake better, the reigning over the spirits of men by powerful oratory, are apt to inspire vain-glorious conceits into the preachers. And many carried along by the current of their injudicious auditors, are curious to bespangle their discourses with light ornaments, to please the ear, and are not studious to preach Christ and him crucified, in a style distant from all shadow of vanity, to save the soul.
Another temptation attending that holy calling is, from human passions, which ministers often bring up into the pulpit with them, and with a counterfeit zeal vent their animosities against those of whom they are jealous, as diminishing their secular interests. God under the law severely forbids the offering up sacrifices by common fire, but only by celestial, that was preserved day and night upon the altar by the priests: it is symbolical, that the reprehension of sinners by the servants of God, should not be expressed with heat of anger against their persons, but with holy zeal; that love to their souls should be the pure motive of the severest rebukes.
Lastly. The great danger is, lest ministers have a respect more to the temporal reward of their office, than the divine end of it. Therefore St. Peter with that solemnity enjoins evangelical pastors, “to feed the flock of God, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind: neither to act as lords over God's heritage, but to be ensamples to the flock." 1 Pet. 5. 2, 3. It is true, the labourer is worthy of his reward ; and “if we sow spiritual things, is it a great matter (as the apostle saith) if we reap your carnal things?” I Cor. 9. 11. But though it is natural and regular to eat to live, yet to live to eat is prodigiously brutish; so it is a most guilty vile intention to use the sacred ministry for obtaining secular things. This will corrupt the heart, and hinder the discharging the office with sincerity and constancy: for the end is
* Habet enim multitudo vim quandam talem, ut quemadmodum tibicen sine tibiis cadere, orator sine multitudine audiente eloquens esse non possit. Cicer,