תמונות בעמוד

SERM. long struggling with manifold oppositions and difficulties; XLVIII. whence the holy Scripture termeth our practice a warfare,

wherein we are to fight many a bloody battle with most redoubtable foes; a combat, which must be managed with our best skill and utmost might; a race, which we must pass through with incessant activity and swiftness.

If therefore we mean to be good or to be happy, it behoveth us to lose no time; to be presently up at our great talk; to snatch all occasions, to embrace all means incident of reforming our hearts and lives. As those, who have a long journey to go, do take care to set out early, and in their way make good speed, left the night overtake them before they reach their homeb; so it being a great way from hence to heaven, seeing we must pass over so many obstacles, through so many paths of duty, before we arrive thither, it is expedient to set forward as soon as can be, and to proceed with all expedition; the longer we stay, the more time we mall need, and the less we shall have.

3. We may consider, that no future time which we can fix upon will be more convenient than the present is for our reforination. Let us pitch on what time we please, we shall be as unwilling and unfit to begin as we are now; we fall find in ourselves the same indispositions, the same averseness, or the same listlessness toward it, as now: there will occur the like hardships to deter us, and the like pleasures to allure us from our duty; objects will then be as present, and will strike as smartly upon our senses; the case will appear just the same, and the same pretences for delay will obtrude themselves; so that we shall be as apt then as now to prorogue the business. We shall say then, to-morrow I will mend; and when that morrow cometh, it will be still to-morrow, and so the morrow will prove endless. If, like the simple rustic, (who staid by the

5 'Αλλ' άγι νύν 7ομεν, δή γαρ μίμβλωκε μάλισα

"Ημαρ, άταρ τάχα του ποτί έσσερα ρίγων έσαι. Ηom. Ou, P. € Cras hoc fiet; idem cras fiet, &c. Perf. Sat. v. Qui non eft hodie, cras minus aptus erit.

Ovid, de Rom. i. Epiæ. iv. 12.


river-side waiting till it had done running, so that he might SERM. pass dry-foot over the channel,) we do conceit, that the XLVIII. sources of fin (bad inclinations within, and strong temptations abroad) will of themselves be spent, or fail, we shall find ourselves deludedd. If ever we come to take up, we must have a beginning with some difficulty and trouble; we must courageously break through the present with all its enchantments; we must undauntedly plunge into the cold stream; we must rouse ourselves from our bed of Noth; we must shake off that brutish improvidence, which detaineth us; and why should we not assay it now? There is the same reason now that ever we can have; yea, far

ason now;fr if that we now begin, hereafter at any determinate time, some of the work will be done, what remaineth will be shorter and easier to use. Nay, farther,

4. We may consider, that the more we defer, the more difficult and painful our work must needs prove; every day will both enlarge our task and diminith our ability to perform it'. Sin is never at a stay; if we do not retreat from it, we shall advance in it; and the farther on we go, the more we have to come back; every step we take forward (even before we can return hither, into the state wherein we are at present) must be repeated; all the web we fpin must be unravelled; we must vomit up all we take in: which to do we shall find very tedious and grievous.

Vice, as it groweth in age, so it improveth in stature and strength; from a puny child it foon waxeth a lusty stripling, then riseth to be a sturdy man, and after a while becomieth a mally giant, whom we shall scarce dare to encounter, whom we shall be very hardly able to vanquish;


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-qui reéte vivendi prorogat horam, Rufticus expectat dum defluat amnis, at ille

Labitur, et labetur in omne volubilis ævum. Hor. Ep. i. 2. • Ει μεν λυσιτελής ή υπέρθεσίς έσιν, η παντελής απόφασης αυτής εσι λυσιτιλίσιρα. Epiâ. iv. 12.

For the same reason we put it off, we Mould put it away. If it be good at all, it is good at present.

Παρά το σήμερον αμαρτηθέν εις τάλλα χείρον ανάγκη σου τα τράγματα έχειν, , Epia. iv, 12.


SERM, especially seeing that as it groweth taller and stouter, so XLVIII. we shall dwindle and prove more impotent; for it feedeth

upon our vitals, and thriveth by our decay; it waxeth mighty by stripping us of our best forces, by enfeebling our reason, by perverting our will, by corrupting our temper, by debafing our courage, by feducing all our appetites and passions to a treacherous compliance with itself: every day our mind groweth more blind, our will more resty, our spirit more faint, our appetites more fierce, our pasfions more headstrong and untameable 8; the power and empire of fin do strangely by degrees encroach, and continually get ground upon us, till it hath quite subdued and enthralled us. First we learn to bear it; then we come to like it; by and by we contract a friendship with it; then we dote upon it; at last we become enslaved to it in a bondage, which we shall hardly be able, or willing, to shake off; when not only our necks are fitted to the yoke, our hands are manacled, and our feet shackled thereby; but our heads and hearts do conspire in a base fubmiffion thereto: when vice hath made fuch impression on us, when this pernicious weed hath taken so deep root in our mind, will, and affections, it will demand an extremely toilsome labour to extirpate it.

Indeed, by continuance in fin, the chief means (afforded by nature, or by grace) of restraining or reducing us from it, are either cut off, or enervated and rendered ineffectual.

Natural modesty, while it lasteth, is a curb from doing ill; men in their first deflexions from virtue are bashful and shyh; out of regard to other men's opinion, and tenderness of their own honour, they are afraid or afhamed to transgress plain rules of duty: but in process, this disposition weareth out; by little and little they arrive to

& Falfis opinionibus tanto quisque inseritur, quanto magis in eis familiariusque volutatur. Aug. Ep. 117. Migisou após ágerinBoningen in aidas. Greg. Naz. Or. 26.

nam quis
Peccandi finem posuit fibi, quando recepit
Ejc&tum semel attrita de fronte ruborem. Juv. Sat. 18.

Ifa. xlviii. 4.

that character of the degenerate Jews, whom the Pro- SERM. phets call impudent children, having a brow of brass, and XLVIII. faces harder than a rock ; so that they commit fin with Ezek. ii. 4. open face, and in broad day, without any mask, without ili 7; a blush; they despise their own reputation, and defy all Jer. v. 3. censure of others; they outface and outbrave the world, 29.

Prov, xxi. till at length, with prodigious insolence, they come to boast of wickedness, and glory in their shame, as an in- Phil. ii. 19. stance of high courage and special gallantry.

Conscience is a check to beginners in fin, reclaiming them from it, and rating them for it: but this in long standers becometh useless, either failing to discharge its office, or assaying it to no purpose; having often been Nlighted, it will be weary of chiding; or, if it be not wholly dumb, we shall be deaf to its reproofi: as those, who live by cataracts or downfalls of water, are, by continual noise, so deafened, as not to hear or mind it; so shall we in time grow senseless, not regarding the loudest peals and rattlings of our conscience.

The heart of a raw novice in impiety is somewhat ten- (Ezek. ii. 4. der and soft, so that remorse can pierce and sting it; his Neh.is. 29. neck is yielding and senfible, so that the yoke of fin doth 2 Chron. gall it : but in stout proficients the heart becometh hard Dan.v. 20.) and ftony, the neck ftiff and brawny; (an iron finew, as Isa. xlviii. the Prophet termeth it;) so that they do not feel or resent 4. any thing; but are like those, of whom St. Paul speaketh, οίτινες απηλγηκότες, who being part feeling all forrow or duo quis smart, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to pejus fe ha work all uncleanness with greediness.

sentit. Sen.

Ep. 53. When first we nibble at the bai or enter into bad

Eph. iv. 19. courses, our reason doth contest and remonstrate against it, faithfully representing to us the folly, the ugliness, the baseness, the manifold ill consequences of finning; but that, by continuance, is muffled, so as not to discern, or muzzled, so as not to declare; yea, often is so debauched as to excuse, to avow, and maintain, yea, to applaud and extol our miscarriages.

1 Ψυχή άπαξ αμαρτίας γινσαμίνη και αναλγήτως διατιθεϊσα πολλήν ταρίχε. The roońyapı onu opor Sunny, &c. Chryf. Tom. Orat. 64,


Xxxvi. 1.

SERM, For a time a man retaineth some courage, and a hope XINIU, that he may repent; but progress in fin dispiriteth and

casteth into despair, whether God be placable, whether himselt be corrigible : an apprehension concerning the length of the way, or the difficulty of the work, discourageth; and despondency rendereth him heartless and careless to attempt it. There is no man that hath heard of God, who hath not at first fome dread of offending him, and some diffatisfaction in transgressing his will; it appearing to his mind, not yet utterly blinded and depraved, a desperate thing to brave his irresistible power, an absurd thing to thwart his infallible wisdom, a deteftable thing to abuse bis immense goodness : but obstinacy

in fin doth quash this conscientious awe; so that at length Psal. x. 4. God is not in all his thoughts, the fear of God is not before

his eyes ; the wrath of the Almighty seemeth a bugbear, the fiercest menaces of religion sound but as rattles to him.

As for the gentle whispers and touches of divine grace, the monitory dispensations of Providence, the good advices and wholesome reproofs of friends, with the like

means of reclaiming finners; these to persons settled Jer. xlviii. on their lees, or fixed in bad custom, are but as gusts Zeph. i. 19.

of wind brushing an old oak, or as waves dashing on a rock, without at all shaking or stirring it.

Now when any person is come to this pass, it must be hugely difficult to reduce him; to retrieve a deflowered modesty, to quicken a jaded conscience, to supple a callous heart, to resettle a baffled reason, to rear a dejected courage, to recover a soul miserably benumbed and broken, to its former vigour and integrity, can be no easy matter.

The diseases of our soul, no less than those of our body, when once they are inveterate, they are become near incurable; the longer we forbear to apply due remedy, the more hard their cure will prove : if we let them proceed far, we must, ere we can be rid of them, undergo a course of physic very tedious and offensive to us; many a rough purge, many a fore phlebotomy,


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