« AnteriorContinuar »
self back in his chair and cried out, "O, Mr. Wesley, these are the crosses which I meet with every day!" I could not help asking, "Pray, Sir John, are these the heaviest crosses you meet with?" Surely these crosses would not have fretted him so much, if he had had only fifty pounds a year instead of five thousand!
9. But it would not be strange if rich men were in general void of all good dispositions, and an easy prey to all evil ones, since so few of them pay any regard to that solemn declaration of our Lord, without observing which we cannot be his disciples. "And he said unto them all," the whole multitude, not unto his Apostles only, "If any man will come after me," will be a real Christian, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me," Luke ix. 23. O how hard a saying is this, to those that are at ease "in the midst of their possessions!" Yet the Scripture cannot be broken. Therefore, unless a man do deny himself every pleasure which does not prepare him for taking pleasure in God, and take up his cross daily; obey every command of God, however grievous to flesh and blood, he cannot be a disciple of Christ, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
10. Touching this important point, of denying ourselves, and taking up our cross daily, let us appeal to matter of fact: let us appeal to every man's conscience in the sight of God. How many rich men are there among the Methodists, (observe, there was not one, when they were first joined together,) who actually do "deny themselves and take up their cross daily?" Who resolutely abstain from every pleasure, either of sense or imagination, unless they know by experience, that it prepares them for taking pleasure in God? Who decline no cross, no labour or pain, which lies in the way of their duty? Who of you that are now rich, deny yourselves just as you did when you were poor? Who as willingly endure labour or pain now, as you did when you were not worth five pounds? Come to particulars. Do you fast now as often as you did then? Do you rise as early in the morning? Do you endure cold or
heat, wind or rain, as cheerfully as ever? See one reason among many, why so few increase in goods, without decreasing in grace! Because they no longer deny themselves and take up their daily cross. They no longer, alas! endure hardship, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ!
11. "Go to now, ye rich men! Weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you:" that must come upon you in a few days unless prevented by a deep and entire change! The canker of your gold and silver will be a testimony against you, and will eat your flesh as fire. O how pitiable is your condition! And who is able to help you? You need more plain dealing than any men in the world. And you meet with less. For how few dare speak as plain to you, as they would do to one of your servants! No man living, that either hopes to gain any thing by your favour, or fears to lose any thing by your displeasure. O that God would give me acceptable words, and cause them to sink deep into your hearts! Many of you have known me long, well nigh from your infancy: You have frequently helped me, when I stood in need. May I not say you loved me? But now the time of our parting is at hand: my feet are just stumbling upon the dark mountains. I would leave one word with you, before I go hence; and you may remember it, when I am no more seen.
12. O let your heart be whole with God! Seek your happiness in him and him alone. Beware that you cleave not to the dust! This earth is not your place. See that you use this world as not abusing it: use the world, and enjoy God. Sit as loosely to all things here below, as if you were a poor beggar. Be a good steward of the manifold gifts of God, that when you are called to give an account of your stewardship, he may say, Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!
ON, WHAT IS MAN?
PSALM VIII. 4.
"WHAT IS MAN?"
1. NAY, what am I? With God's assistance I would consider myself. Here is a curious machine, "fearfully and wonderfully made." It is a little portion of earth, the particles of which cohering, I know not how, lengthen into innumerable fibres, a thousand times finer than hairs. These crossing each other in all directions, are strangely wrought into membranes; and these membranes are as strangely wrought into arteries, veins, nerves, and glands; all of which contain various fluids, constantly circulating through the whole machine.
2. In order to the continuance of this circulation, a considerable quantity of air is necessary. And this is continually taken into the habit, by an engine fitted for that very purpose. But as a particle of ethereal fire is connected with every particle of air, (and a particle of water too,) so both air, water, and fire, are received into the lungs together, where the fire is separated from the air and water, both of which are continually thrown out, while the fire extracted from them, is received into, and mingled with the blood. Thus the human body is composed of all the four elements, duly proportioned and mixed together: the last
of which constitutes the vital flame, whence flows the animal heat.
3. Let me consider this yet a little farther. Is not the primary use of the lungs to administer fire to the body, which is continually extracted from the air, by that curious fire-pump? By inspiration it takes in the air, water, and fire together. In its numerous cells, (commonly called airvessels,) it detaches the fire from the air and water. This then mixes with the blood, as every air-vessel has a bloodvessel connected with it: And as soon as the fire is extracted from it, the air and water are thrown out by expiration.
4. Without this spring of life, this vital fire, there could be no circulation of the blood: Consequently no motion of any of the fluids, of the nervous fluid in particular: (If it be not rather, as highly probable, this very fire we are speaking of.) Therefore there could not be any sensation; nor any muscular motion: I say there could be no circulation; for the cause usually assigned for this, namely, the force of the heart, is altogether inadequate to the supposed effect. No one supposes the force of the heart in a strong man to be more than equal to the weight of three thousand pounds. Whereas it would require a force equal to the weight of a hundred thousand pounds, to propel the blood from the heart through all the arteries. This can only be effected by the ethereal fire contained in the blood itself, assisted by the elastic force of the arteries through which it circulates.
5. But beside this strange compound of the four elements, earth, water, air, and fire, I find something in me of a quite different nature, nothing akin to any of these. I find something in me that thinks, which neither earth, water, air, fire, nor any mixture of them, can possibly do: Something which sees, and hears, and smells, and tastes, and feels, all which are so many modes of thinking: it goes farther; having perceived objects by any of these senses, it forms inward ideas of them: it judges concerning them, it
sees whether they agree or disagree with each other: it reasons concerning them, that is, infers one proposition from another: it reflects upon its own operations: it is endued with imagination and memory: and any of its operations, judgment in particular, may he subdivided into many others.
6. But by what means shall I learn in what part of my body this thinking principle is lodged? Some eminent men have affirmed, That it is "all in all, and all in every part." But I learn nothing from this: they seem to be words that have no determinate meaning. Let us then appeal, in the best manner we can, to our own experience. From this I learn, that this thinking principle is not lodged in my hands, or feet, or legs, or arms. It is not lodged in the trunk of my body. Any one may be assured of this by a little reflection. I cannot conceive that it is situated in my bones, or in any part of my flesh. So far as I can judge, it seems to be situated in some part of my head; but whether in the pineal gland, or in any part of the brain, I am not able to determine.
7. But farther: this inward principle, wherever it is lodged, is capable not only of thinking, but likewise of love, hatred, joy, sorrow, desire, fear, hope, &c. and a whole train of other inward emotions, which are commonly called Passions or Affections. They are styled, by a general appellation, the Will, and are mixed and diversified a thousand ways. And they seem to be the only spring of action, in that inward principle I call the Soul.
8. But what is my Soul? It is an important question, and not easily to be resolved.
"Hear'st thou submissive, but a lowly birth?
Some separate particles of finer earth?
A plain effect, which nature must beget,
I cannot in any wise believe this. My reason recoils at it. I cannot reconcile myself to the thought, that the soul is either earth, water, or fire: or a composition of all of them