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ness and backwardness on their hearts. Could we tell how to remove the impediments in men's wills, it would do more than the clearest resolving all the cases of conscience, which their judgments seem to be unsatisfied in. I will tell you what are the impediments in your way, that are harder to be removed than all these difficulties, and yet must be overcome before you can bring men to be like true Christians, “ rich in good works.” 1. Most men are so sensual and selfish, that their own flesh is an insatiable gulf that devoureth all, and they have little or nothing to spare from it to good uses. It is better cheaply maintaining a family of temperate, sober persons, than one fleshly person that hath a whole litter of vices and lusts to be maintained: so much a year seemeth necessary to maintain their pride in needless curiosity and bravery, and so much a year to maintain their sensual sports and pleasures; and so much to please their throats and appetites, and to lay in provision for fevers, and dropsies, and coughs, and consumptions, and an hundred such diseases, which are the natural progeny of gluttony, drunkenness, and excess; and so much a year to maintain their idleness, and so of many other vices. But if one of these persons have the pride, and idleness, and gluttony, and sportfulness of wife, and children, and family also to maintain, as well as their own, many thousand pounds a year perhaps may be too little. Many a conquering army hath been maintained at as cheap a rate, as such an army of lusts (or garrison at least) as keep possession of some such families, when all their luxury goeth for the honour of their family, and they glory in wearing the livery of the devil, the world, and the flesh, (which they once renounced, and pretended to glory in nothing but the cross of Christ;) and when they take care in the education of their children, that this entailed honour be not cut off from their families: no wonder if God's part be little from these men, when the flesh must have so much, and when God must stand to the courtesy of his enemies, and have but their leavings. I hope the nobility and gentry of England that are innocent herein, will not be of. fended with me, if I tell them that are guilty, that when I foresee their counts, I think them to be the most miserable persons upon earth, that rob God, and rob the king of that which should defray the charges of government, and rob the church, and rob the poor, and rob their souls of all the benefits of good works, and all to please the devouring flesh. It is a dreadful thing to foresee with what horror they will give up their reckoning, when instead of so much in feeding and clothing the poor, and promoting the Gospel, and the saving of men's souls, there will be found upon their account, so much in vain curiosities and pride, and so much in costly sports and pleasures, and so much in fleshpleasing luxury and excess. The trick that they have got of late, to free themselves from the fears of this account, by believing that there will be no such day, will prove a short and lamentable remedy: and when that day shall come upon them unawares, their unbelief and pleasures will die together, and deliver them up to never-dying horror and despair. I have heard it often mentioned as the dishonour of France, that the third part of the revenues of so rich a kingdom should be devoted and paid to the maintaining of superstition: but if there be not many (and most) kingdoms in the world, where"one half of their wealth is devoted to the flesh, and so to the devil, I should be glad to find myself herein mistaken: and judge you which is more disgraceful, to have half your estates given in sensuality to the devil, or a third part too ignorantly devoted to God! If men laid out no more than needs upon the flesh, they might have the more for the service of God and of their souls. You cannot live under so much a year, as would maintain twice as many frugal, tem perate, industrious persons, because your flesh must needs be pleased, and you are strangers to mortification and selfdenial. Laertius tells that Crates Thebanus put all his money into the banker's or usurer's hands, with this direction, • That if his sons proved idiots it should all be paid to them, but if they proved philosophers, it should be given to the poor; because philosophers can live upon a little, and therefore need little. So if we could make men mortified Christians, they would need so little for themselves, that they would have the more to give to others, and to do good with. 2. Men do not seriously believe God's promises; that he will recompense them in this life (with better things) an
hundred fold, and in the world to come with life eternal “1” And that “by receiving a prophet, or righteous man, may have a prophet's or righteous man's reward.” And that “a cup of cold water (when you have no better) given to one of Christ's little ones in the name of a disciple, shall not be unrewarded".” They believe not that heaven will pay for all, and that there is a life to come in which God will see that they be no losers. They think there is nothing certain but what they have in hand, and therefore they lay up a treasure upon earth, and rather trust to their estates than God: whereas if they verily believed that there is another life, and that judgment will pass on them on the terms described Matt. xxv. they would more industriously lay up a treasure in heaven”, and “make themselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness,” and study how to be rich in good works, and send their wealth to heaven before them, and “lay up a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold upon eternal life,” and then they would be “ready to distribute, and willing to communicate.” They would then know how much they are beholden to God, that will not only honour them to be his stewards, but reward them for distributing his maintenance to his children, as if they had given so much of their own: they would then see that it is they that are the receivers, and that giving is the surest way to be rich, when for transitory things (sincerely given) they may receive the everlasting riches. Then they would see that he that saveth his riches loseth them, and he that loseth them for Christ doth save them, and lay them up in heaven; and that it is more blessed to give than to receive; and that we should ourselves be laborious that we may have wherewith to support the weak, and to give unto the needy. Read Acts xx. 35. Eph. iv. 28. Prov. xxxi. 20., &c. Then they would not be weary of well-doing, if they believed that, “in due season, they shall reap if they faint not; but as they have opportunity, would do good to all men; but especially to them that are of the household of faith".” They would not “forget to do good, and communicate, as knowing that with such sacrifices God is well pleased ".” A true belief of the reward, would make men strive who should do most. 3. Another great hindrance is the want of love to God and our neighbours, to Christ and his disciples. If men loved Christ, they would not deal so niggardly with his disciples, when he has told them that he taketh all that they do to the least of them, (whom he calleth his brethren,) as done to himself". If men loved their neighbours as themselves, I leave you to judge in what proportion and manner they would relieve them Whether they would find money to lay out on dice and cards, and gluttonous feastings, on plays, and games, and pomp, and pride, while so many round about them are in pinching want. The destruction of charity or Christian love is the cause that works of charity are destroyed. Who can look that the seed of the serpent, that hath an enmity against the holy seed, should liberally relieve them Or that the fleshly mind, which is enmity against God, should be ready to do good to the spiritual and holy servants of God “2 Or that a selfish man should much care for any body but himself and his own When love is turned into the hatred of each other, upon the account of our partial interests and opinions; and when we are like men in war, that think he is the bravest, most deserving man that hath killed most; when men have bitter, hateful thoughts of one another, and set themselves to make each other odious, and to ruin them, that they may stand the faster, and think that destroying them is good service to God; who can look for the fruits of love from damnable uncharitableness and hatred; or that the devil's tree should bring forth holy fruit to God? 4. And then (when love is well spoken of by all, even its deadly enemies) lest men should see their wickedness and misery, (and is it not admirable that they see it not ?) the devil hath taught them to play the hypocrite, and make themselves a religion which costs them nothing, without true Christian love and good works, that they may have something to quiet and cheat their consciences with. One man drops now and then an inconsiderable gift, and another op
* Matt. xix. 29. * Matt, x. 42. * Matt. vi. 20. y 1 Tim. vi. 17–19. Luke xvi. 9. * Gal. vi. 9, 10,
presseth, and hateth, and destroyeth, (and slandereth and censureth, that he may not be thought to hate and ruin without cause ;) and when they have done, they wipe their mouths with a few hypocritical prayers or good words, and think they are good Christians, and God will not be avenged on them. One thinks that God will save him because he is of this church, and another because he is of another church. One thinks to be saved because he is of this opinion and party in religion, and another because he is of that. One thinks he is religious because he saith his prayers this way, and another because he prayeth another way. And thus dead hypocrites, whose hearts were never quickened with the powerful love of God, to love his servants, their neighbours, and enemies, do persuade themselves that God will save them for mocking and flattering him with the service of their deceitful lips; while they want the love of God, which is the root of all good, and are possessed with the love of money which is the root of all evil", and are “lovers of pleasure more than of God".” They will join themselves forwardly to the cheap and outside actions of religion: but when they hear much less than “One thing thou yet wantest: sell all that thou hast and distribute to the poor, and thou shalt have a treasure in heaven :-they are very sorrowful, because they are very rich'.” Such a fruitless love as they had to others s, such a fruitless religion they have as to themselves. For “pure religion and undefiled before God, is to visit the fatherless and widows in their adversity, and to keep yourselves unspotted from the world".” “Whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother hath need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” There are three texts that describe the case of sensual, uncharitable gentlemen. 1. Luke xvi. “A rich man clothed in purple and silk, (for so, as Dr. Hammond noteth, it should rather be translated,) and fared sumptuously every day,” you know the end of him. 2. Ezek. xvi. 49. “Sodom's sin was pride, fulness of
* 1 Tim. vi. 10. * 2 Tim. iii. 4. | Luke xviii. 22, 23. * James ii. " James i. 27. See 1 John ii. 15. iii. 17.