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Serm. for the safety of the animal; but often carried 1. beyond the bounds which that end prescribes.
But, besides the instincts originally planted in us for the preservation of the animal life, and which terminate there, there are other defires and propensities contracted from our knowledge of the world, and the common course of things in it, which are also a part of the self to be denied. When we have begun to tread the path of life, and are capable of observing the conditions of men, we obviously discern a disparity in them : some have much greater measures of power, honour, and wealth than others; and the advantage of superiority in these respects is as easily feen, for it furnishes more abundantly the means of various enjoyment. Hence arises, though without any previous excitations in nature, strong desires, and an eager pursuit of riches and grande’r ; which having no connection with the highest ends of our being, are to be retrench'd by the law of the mind; for, when they are indulg'd, they grow up to the pernicious vices of covetousness and ambition; or what the apostle
Föhn calls the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life; eminent branches of the love of the world, which he pronounces utterly inconsistent with the love of the Father, or true religion.
A multitude there are of other principles of SERM, action, or which have the force of principles, I. affections, passions and determinations of one or kind or other in the human mind, which may be considered in the fame view, that is, as objects of self-denial, because their tendencies often interfere with a right moral conduct, or with the duty of Christians. Fear sometimes brings a snare; sorrow is frequently immoderate, both often misleading men from the path of virtue, and drawing them into the most dangerous errors in practice. But I will not insist on these things particularly.
It is time we should consider what is meant by denying them, or whatever may be called self; and certainly it is not that we should extirpate any natural affection, appetite or pasfion. , Our constitution is what God has been pleas'd to make it. In vain should we attempt to make any essential alteration, and 'tis ima pious to think, that he requires it; for it would be to reproach his work as if it were faulty, and endeavour to destroy it. But indeed our whole nature is wisely fram'd, and no part of it unnecessary, fo far from being evil. Every passion, every appetite, every instinct in the mind has its particular use, as well as each member of the body; as any one may be con vinç'd who attentively considers that matter,
Serm. Nor have we power over the first motions of
I. our Instincts, any more than over their being. ogs. It is their nature to operate in suggesting to the
mind, what is agreeable to them, and so far we are no more voluntary accountable agents, than in animal actions and motions, which have no dependance at all upon our own choice. Can it enter into any ones mind, that the uneasy sensations of hunger and thirst, with the simple desire of meat and drink common to all animals, and preventing any thought or deliberation, that these are fins ? The perfectly innocent Yesus, altogether free from every kind and degree of moral evil, had them as other men have ; tho' sometimes 'tis certain the defire, but not without a voluntary indulgence, grows to a criminal excess; which is the vice of intemperance, 1 fame must be said concerning other natural appetites and passions, the first motions whereof are not faulty, tho' they may be the occasions of, or temptations to fin, when they are not duely regulated and reItrained, which is the province of reason and conscience. But
Secondly, It is exceeding plain, that felfdenial imports our absolute refusal to comply with any motion or suggestion in our minds, from whatever quarter it springs, fo far as to
do what we know to be finful. There are Serm. some cases, wherein perhaps 'tis difficult to fix I. the precise limits of right and wrong; but there are others, wherein it is not difficult at all, and these by far the most numerous. Some actions are so expressly prohibited by the law of God, and have such a glaring turpitude and malignity, as strikes the mind at the first view of them; as adultery, murder, theft; the luft of a man's heart may entice him to all these. His lasciviousness may prompt him to the most odious acts of impurity; his covetousness may solicit him to steal ; his wrath may push him on to the most destructive outrages against his neighbour. But self-denial must pass for nothing at all, if it does not restrain such exorbitances; and a man is abandon'd to himself in the worst sense, comícience having utterly lost its sovereignty, unless it interposes to forbid, nay, and effectually to prevent those finished heinous transgressions. Let me add, here, that sin is not only completed in external acts: when the heart deliberately consents to the temptations, and a resolution passes of complying with it, the guilt of that wicked-ness is really contracted, tho' the outward act should never follow. Thus our Saviour in his fermon upon the mount, Matt. v. expounds the commandments of the moral law, in op
SERM. position to the short and defective comments
I. of the Scribes and Pharisees, at the 22 ver. m he pronounces anger resting in the bosom, and
breaking out into provoking and insulting words, tho' there be no blood-lhed, I say, he pronounces this to be a violation of the fixth commandment, whereby the penalty of disobedience is incurr'd, and at the 28 ver. he states a plain case, wherein he expressly declares that adultery is already committed in the heart, without proceeding any further. In other parallel instances, the fame judgment is to be made, and therefore we must conclude, that the precept of self-denial reaches to the preventing sinful purposes of heart, as well as the perpetration of outward evil actions. And in this case to deny ourselves, is no more than what St. Paul tells us the gospel, or the grace which brings salvation, was intended to teach men; that is, to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts; as well as the acts of impiety and vice, to which they solicit us. II.
Thirdly, There are no appetites, desires, and passions, planted in the human nature, but what tend to an innocent, if it be a moderate gratification. The fault lies only, in the excess; or in transgressing those limits which the obvious reason of things, or the laws of God