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VII. Yet many are wrongfully taken by others (if not by themselves) to be sensual, by such mistakes as thésé. 1. Because they live not as meanly and scantily as the poor, who want things necessary or helpful to their duty. But by that rule I must not be well, because other men are sick; or I must not go apace, because the lame can go but slowly If poor men have bad horses, I may ride on the best I can get, to dispatch my business, and redeem my time, so H prefer not costly, useless ostentation, before true serviceableness. 2. Others are accused as sensual, because the weakness of their bodies requireth a more tender usage, and diet, than healthful men's: some bodies are unfitter for duty if they fast; and some are useless through sickness and infirmities, if they be not used with very great care. And it is as truly a duty to cherish a weak body to enable it for God's service, as to tame an unruly, lustful body, and keep it from offending him. 3. Some melancholy, conscientious persons are still accusing themselves, through mere scrupulosity; questioning almost all they eat, or drink, or wear, or do, whether it be not too much or too pleasing. But it is a cheerful sobriety which God requireth, which neither pampereth the body, nor yet disableth or hindereth it from its duty; and not an unprofitable, wrangling scrupulosity.
Direct. 1. The first and grand Direction against fleshpleasing, is, ‘ that you be sure, by a serious, living faith, to see the better things with God, and to be heartily taken up in minding, loving, seeking, and securing them.’ All the other Directions are but subservient to this. For certainly man's soul will not be idle, being a living, active principle: and it is as certain, that it will not act but upon some end, or for some end. And there are no other ends to take us up, but either the things temporal or eternal. And therefore there is no true cure for a sensual love of temporal things, but to turn the heart to things eternal. Believingly think first of the certainty, greatness, and eternity of the joys above: and then think that these may more certainly be yours, than any worldly riches or delights, if you do not contemptuously reject them. And then think that this is the time in which you must make sure of them, and win them, if ever you will possess them; and that you are sent into the world of purpose on this business. And then think with yourselves, how fleshly pleasures are the only competitors with the everlasting pleasures; and that, if ever you lose them, it will be by overloving these transitory things; and that one half of your work for your salvation, lieth in killing your affections to all below, that they may be alive to God alone. And lastly, think how much higher and sweeter pleasures, even in this life, the godly do enjoy than you; and you are losing them while you prefer these sordid pleasures. Do you think that a true believer hath not a more excellent delight in his forethoughts of his immortal blessedness with Christ, and in the assurance of the love of God, and communion with him in his holy service, than you, or any sensualist, hath in fleshly pleasures? Sober and serious meditation on these things, will turn the mind to the true delights. Direct. 11. ‘Be acquainted with the range of sensual desires, and follow them, and watch them in all their extravagancies.” Otherwise, while you are stopping one gap, they will be running out at many more. I have given you many instances in my “Treatise of Self-denial.” I will here briefly set some before your eyes. 1. Watch your appetites as to meat and drink, both quantity and quality. Gluttony is a common, unobserved sin: the flesh no way enslaves men more than by the appetite : as we see in drunkards and gluttons, that can no more forbear than one that thirsteth in a burning fever. 2. Take heed of the lust of uncleanness, and all degrees of it, and approaches to it; especially immodest embraces and behaviour. 3. Take heed of ribald, filthy talk, and love songs, and of such incensing snares. 4. Take heed of too much sleep and idleness. 5. Take heed of taking too much delight in your riches, and lands, your buildings, and delectable conveniencies. 6. Take heed lest honours, or worldly greatness, or men's applause become your too great pleasure. 7. And lest you grow to make it your delight, to think on such things when you are alone, or talk idly of them in company with others. 8. And take heed lest the success and prosperity of your affairs do too much please you, as him, Luke xii. 20.
9. Take not up any inordinate pleasure in your children, relations, or nearest friends. 10. Take heed of a delight in vain, unprofitable, sinful company. 11. Or in fineness of apparel, to set you out to the eyes of others. 12. Take heed of a delight in romances, play-books, feigned stories, useless news, which corrupt the mind, and waste your time. 13. Take heed of a delight in any recreations which are excessive, needless, devouring time, discomposing the mind, enticing to further sin, hindering any duty, especially our delight in God. They are miserable souls that can delight themselves in no more safe or profitable things, than cards, and dice, and stage-plays, and immodest dancings. Direct. 111. “Next to the universal remedy mentioned in the first Direction, see that you have the particular remedies still at hand, which your own particular way of fleshpleasing doth most require.’ And let not the love of your vanity prejudice you against a just information, but impartially consider of the disease and the remedy. Of the particulars anon. Direct. Iv. “Remember still that God would give you more pleasure, and not less, and that he will give you as much of the delights of sense, as is truly good for you, so you will take them in their place, in subordination to your heavenly delights.” And is not this to increase and multiply your pleasure ? Are not health, and friends, and food, and convenient habitation much sweeter as the fruit of the love of God, and the foretastes of everlasting mercies, and as our helps to heaven, and as the means to spiritual comfort, than of themselves alone? All your mercies are from God: he would take none from you, but sanctify them, and give you more. Direct. v. ‘See that reason keep up its authority, as the governor of sense and appetite.’ And so take an account, whatever the appetite would have, of the ends and reasons of the thing, and to what it doth conduce. Take nothing and do nothing merely because the sense or appetite would have it; but because you have reason so to do, and to gratify the appetite. Else you will deal as brutes, if reason be laid by (in human acts). Direct. vi. “Go to the grave, and see there the end of fleshly pleasure, and what is all that it will do for you at the last.’ One would think it should cure the mad desire of plenty and pleasure, to see where all our wealth, and mirth, and sport, and pleasure must be buried at last. Direct. v11. ‘Lastly, be still sensible that flesh is the grand enemy of your souls, and fleshpleasing the greatest hindrance of your salvation.” The devil's enmity and the world's are both but subordinate to this of the flesh : for its pleasure is the end, and the world's and satan's temptations are both but the means to attain it. Besides the malignity opened before, consider, 1. How contrary a voluptuous life is to the blessed example of our Lord, and of his servant Paul and all the apostles? Paul tamed his body and brought it into subjection, lest, having preached to others, himself should be a castaway'. And all that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts thereof *. This was signified in the ancient manner of baptising, (and so is still by baptism itself;) when they went over head in the water and then rose out of it, to signify that they were dead and buried with Christ", and rose with him to newness of life. This is called our being “baptised into his death:” and seems the plain sense of 1 Cor. xv. 29., of being “baptised for the dead;” that is, “for dead;” or to shew that we are dead to the world, and must die in the world, but shall rise again to the kingdom of Christ, both of grace and glory. • 2. Sensuality sheweth that there it no true belief of the life to come, and proveth, so far as it prevaileth, the absence of all grace. 3. It is a homebred, continual traitor to the soul: a continual tempter, and nurse of all sin: the great withdrawer of the heart from God: and the common cause of apostacy itself: it still fighteth against the spirit': and is seeking advantage from all our liberties". 4. It turneth all our outward mercies into sin, and strengtheneth itself against God by his own benefits.
5. It is the great cause of our afflictions: for God will not spare that idol which is set up against him : flesh rebelleth, and flesh shall suffer.
6. And when it hath brought affliction, it is most impatient under it, and maketh it seem intolerable. A fleshpleaser thinks he is undone, when affliction depriveth him of his pleasure.
7. Lastly, it exceedingly unfitteth men for death : for then flesh must be cast into the dust, and all its pleasure be at an end. O doleful day to those that had their good things here, and their portion in this life When all is gone that ever they valued and sought; and all the true felicity lost, which they brutishly contemned If you would joyfully then bear the dissolution and ruin of your flesh, O master it and mortify it now. Seek not the ease and pleasure of a little walking, breathing clay, when you should be seeking and foretasting the everlasting pleasure. Here lieth your danger and your work. Strive more against your own flesh, than against all your enemies in earth and hell: if you be saved from this, you are saved from them all. Christ suffered in the flesh, to tell you that it is not pampering, but suffering that your flesh must expect, if you will reign with him.
Further Subordinate Directions, for the next great Duties of Religion; necessary to the right performance of the former."
Directions for Redeeming or well improving Time.
TIME being man's opportunity for all those works for which he liveth, and which his Creator doth expect from him, and on which his endless life dependeth : the redeeming or well improving of it, must needs be of most high importance to him; and therefore it is well made by holy Paul, the great mark to distinguish the wise from fools. “See then that you walk circumspectly; not as fools, but as wise, re
See the Directions how to spend every day, part ii. chap. 17.