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complyingly hear one side speak for holiness, and the other speak against it, and suit itself to the company and discourse it meets with. 17. An uncharitable ear, which can willingly hear the censures, backbitings, slanders, revilings, that are used against others, yea against the best. 18. An unnatural ear, which can easily and willingly hear the dishonour of their parents, or other near relations, if any carnal interest do but engage them against their honour. 19. A rebellious, disobedient ear, which hearkeneth not to the just commands of magistrates, parents, masters, and other governors, but hearkeneth with more pleasure to the words of seditious persons that dishonour them. 20. A filthy, unclean, and adulterous ear, which loveth to hear filthy, ribald speeches, and love-songs, and romances, and lascivious plays, and the talk of wanton lust and dalliance. 21. A self-provoking ear, that hearkeneth after all that others say against them, which may kindle hatred, or dislike, or passion, in them. 22. A busy, meddling ear, which loveth to hear of other men's faults, or matters which concern them not, and to hearken to twattlers, and carry-tales, and make-bates, and to have to do with evil reports. 23. A timorous, cowardly, unbelieving ear, which trembleth at every threatening of man, though in a cause which is God’s, and he hath promised to justify. 24. An idle ear, which can hearken to idle, time-wasting talk, and make the sins of twattlers your own. All these ways (and more) you are in danger of sinning by the ear, and coming partakers in the sins of all whose sinful words you hear, and of turning into sin the words of God, and his servants, which are spoken for your good. Direct. 111. ‘Know when the hearing of evil, and not hearing good is your sin:’ that is, 1. When it is not out of any imposed necessity, but of your voluntary choice: and when you might avoid it upon lawful terms, without a greater hurt, and will not. 2. When you hate not the evil, which you are necessitated to hear, and love not the good which through necessity you cannot hear; but your hearts comply with your necessities. 3. When you shew not so much disowning and dislike of the evil which you hear, as you might do, without an inconvenience greater than the benefit; but make it your own by sinful silence or compliance. 4. When you are presumptuous and fearless of your danger. Direct. Iv. ‘Know wherein the danger of such sinful hearing lieth.’ As 1. in displeasing God, who loveth not to hear his children hearken to those that are abusing him, nor to see them playing too boldly about fire or water, nor to touch any stinking or defiling thing, but calls to them, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you".” 2. It is dangerous to your fantasy and memory, which quickly receiveth hurtful impressions by what you hear: if you should hear provoking words, even against your wills, yet it is hard to escape the receiving some hurtful impression by them: and if you hear lascivious, filthy words against your wills (much more if willingly) it is two to one but they leave some thoughts in your minds which may gender unto further sin. And it is dangerous to your passions and affections, lest they catch fire before you are aware. And it is dangerous to your understandings lest they be perverted and seduced ; and to your wills lest they be turned after evil, and turned away from good; and alas ! how quickly is all this done. 3. It is dangerous to the speaker, lest your voluntary hearing encourage him in his sin, and hinder his repentance. 4. And it is dishonourable to God and godliness. Direct. v. “Do your best to live in such company where you shall hear that which is good and edifying, and to escape that company whose conference is hurtful and corrupt.’ Run not yourselves into this temptation: be sure you have a call, and your call must be discerned, 1. By your office or place; whether any duty of your office or relation bind you to be there. 2. By your ends: whether you be there as a physician to do them good, (as Christ went among sinners) or to do the work of your proper calling: or whether you are there out of a carnal, man-pleasing or temporizing humour? 3. By the measure of your abilities to attain those ends. 4. By the measure of your danger to receive the infection. 5. By the quality of your company, and the probability of good or evil in the event. Direct. vi. “When you are called into ill company, go b 3 Cor. vi. 16–18.
fortified with defensive and offensive arms, as foreseeing what danger or duty you are like to be cast upon.” Foresee what discourse you are like to hear, and accordingly prepare yourselves: let your first preparation be to preserve yourselves from the hurt, and your next preparation to confute the evil, and convince the sinful speaker, or at least to preserve the endangered hearers, if you have ability, and opportunity. If you are to hear a seducing heretical teacher, there is one kind of preparation to be made : if you are to hear a beastly, filthy talker, there is another kind of preparation to be made. If you are to hear a cunning pharisee, or malignant enemy of godliness, reproach, or cavil, or wrangle against the Scriptures, or the ways of God, there is anther kind of preparation to be made: if you are to hear but the senseless scorns, or railings and bawlings of ignorant, profane, and sensual sots, there is another kind of preparation to be made : to give you particular directions for your preparations against every such danger would make my work too tedious. But remember how much lieth upon your own preparations or unpreparedness. Direct. v11. ‘Be not sinfully wanting in good discourse yourselves, if you would not be ensnared by bad discourse from others.’ Your good discourse may prevent, or divert, or shame, or disappoint their evil discourse. Turn the stream another way; and do it wisely, that you expose not yourselves and your cause to scorn and laughter: and do it with such zeal as the cause requireth that you be not borne down by their greater zeal in evil. And where it is unfit for you to speak, if it may be, let your countenance or departure signify your dislike and sorrow. Direct. viii. “Specially labour to mortify those sins, which the unavoidable discourse of your company doth most tempt you to : that where the devil doth most to hurt you, you may there do most in your own defence.’ Doth the talk which you hear tend most to heresy, seduction, or to turn you from the truth? Study the more to be established in the truth: read more books for it; and hear more that is said by wise and godly men against the error which you are tempted to. Is it to profaneness or dislike of a holy life, that your company tempt you? Address yourselves the more to God, and give up yourselves to holiness, and let your study and practice be such as tend to keep your souls in relish with holiness, and hatred of sin. Is it pride that their applauding discourse doth tempt you to? Study the more the doctrine of humiliation. Is it lust that they provoke you to, or is it drunkenness, gluttony, sinful recreations, or excesses? Labour the more in the work of mortification, and keep the strictest guard where they assault you. Direct. Ix. “Be not unacquainted with the particular weaknesses and dangers of your own hearts, or any of your sinful inclinations:’ that when you know where the wall is weakest, you may there make the best defence. That wanton word will set a wanton heart on fire, which a sober mind doth hear with pity as a bedlam kind of speech. A peevish, passionate heart is presently disturbed and kindled, with those words which are scarce observed by a well-composed soul. Direct. x. “Hear every sinful word as dictated by the devil; and suppose you saw him, all the while at the speaker's elbow, putting each word into his mouth, and telling him what to say.” For it is as verily the devil that doth suggest them all, as if you saw him: suppose you saw him behind the railer, hissing him on, as boys do dogs in fighting, and bidding him, “Call him thus or thus:’ suppose you saw him at the malignant's ear, bidding him, revile a holy life, and speak evil of the ways and servants of the Lord : suppose you saw him behind the wanton, bidding him use such ribald talk, or on the stage suggesting it to the actors; or at the ear of those that would provoke you to passion, to tell them what to say against you : this just supposition would much preserve you. - Direct. x 1. “Suppose you heard the end annexed to every speech.” As when you hear one tempting you to lust, suppose he said, ‘Come, let us take our pleasures awhile, and be damned for ever:' so also in every word that tempteth you to any other sin; if the tempter put in the sin, do you put in God's wrath and hell, and separate not that which God hath adjoined, but with the serpent see the sting. Direct. x 11. ‘Observe when the infection first seizeth on you, and presently take an antidote to expel it, if you love your souls.” The signs of infection are, 1. When your zeal
abateth, and you grow more indifferent what you hear. 2. Next you will feel some little inclination to it. 3. Next you will a little venture upon an imitation. 4. And lastly, you will come to a full consent, and so to ruin. If you feel but a remitting of your dislike and hatred, or any filth or tincture left on your thoughts and fantasy, go presently and shake them off; bewail it to God in true repentance, and wash your souls in the blood of Christ, and cast up the poison by holy resolutions, and sweat out the remnant by the fervent exercises of love and holiness.
Directions for Governing the Taste and Appetite.
Tit. 1. Directions against Gluttony.
The most that is necessary to be said to acquaint you with the nature and evil of this sin, is said before in Chap. iv. Part 7. against Flesh-pleasing. But something more particularly must be said, 1. To shew you what is and what is not the sin of gluttony. 2. To shew you the causes of it. 3. The odiousness of it. And 4. To acquaint you with the more particular helps and means against it. I. Gluttony is a voluntary excess in eating, for the pleasing of the appetite or some other carnal end ". . Here note, 1. The matter. 2. The end or effect of this excess. (1.) It is sometimes an excess in quantity, when more is eaten than is meet. (2.) Or else it may be an excess in the delicious quality, when more regard is had of the delight and sweetness than is meet. (3.) Or it may be an excess in the frequency and ordinary unseasonableness of eating: when men eat too oft and sit at it too long. (4.) It may be an excess in the costliness or price : when men feed themselves at too high rates. (5.) Or it may be an excess of curiosity in the dressing, and saucing, and ordering of all. 2. And it is usually for some carnal end. Whether it may be properly called gluttony if a man should think that at a sacrifice or thanksgiving he were bound to eat inordinately, * So the Israelites Numb. xi., loathing manna because they must have change of
diet, was a sin of gulosity or gluttony : being more for appetite than health. WOL. III. B B