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titles, treasures, delights, are as the flower of the grass, which is the most tender amongst vegetables, and so weak a subsistence, that a little breath of wind, the hand of an infant, the teeth of a worm can destroy it. The pleasures of sin, under which secular greatness and wealth are comprehended, are but "for a season," Heb. xi. 25. They are so shortlived, that they expire in the birth, and die whilst they are tasted.-Again; they bring only a slight pleasure, being disproportionable to the desires of the soul. They are confined to the senses, wherein the beasts are more accuratè than man, but cannot reach to the upper and more comprehensive faculties. Nay, they cannot satisfy the greedy senses, much less quiet the spiritual and immortal appetite. What the poet speaks with astonishment of Alexander's insatiable ambition, Æstuat infelix angusto limite mundi;” that the whole world seemed to him as a narrow prison, wherein he was miserable, and, as it were, suffocated, is true of every
If the world was seated in the heart of man, it can no more satisfy it, than the picture of a feast can fill the stomach.—Besides, vexation is added to the vanity of worldly things; and that either because the vehement delights of sense corrupt the temperament of the body, in which the vital complexion consists, and expose it to those sharp diseases, that it may be said without an hyperbole, that a thousand pleasures are not equal to one hour's pain that attends them; or, because of the inward torture of the mind, arising from the sense of guilt and folly, which is the anticipation of hell itself, the beginning of eternal sorrows.
Now these things are not obscure articles of faith, nor abstracted doctrines, to be considered only by refined reason, but are manifest and clear as the light, and verified by continual experience: it is therefore strange to amazement, that man should search after happiness in these things, where he knows it is not to be found, and court real infelicity under a deceitful appearance, when the fallacy is transparent. Who, from a principle of reason, would choose for his happiness a real good, which after a little time he should be deprived of for ever? or a slight good for ever, as the sight of a picture, or the hearing of music ? Yet thus unreasonable is man in his corrupt state, whose soul is truly immortal and capable of infinite blessedness, yet he chooses those delights which are neither satisfying nor lasting.
And because the human understanding from time to time
is convinced of the vanity of all sublunary things, therefore to lessen the vexation which arises from disappointment, and that the appetite may not be taken off from them, corrupted man tries, by variety of objects, to preserve uniformity in delight. The most pleasing, if confined to them, grow nauseous and insipid; after the expiring of a few moments, there remains nothing but satiety and sickly resentments ; and then changes are the remedies, to take off the weariness of one pleasure by another. The human soul is under a perpetual instability of restless desires; it despises what it enjoys, and values what is new, as if novelty and goodness were the same in all temporal things. And as the birds remain in the air by constant motion, without which they would quickly fall to the earth as other heavy bodies, there being nothing solid to support them ; so the spirit of man, by many unquiet agitations and continual changes, subsists for a time, till at last it falls into discontent and despair, the centre of corrupt nature.
When present things are unsatisfactory, he entertains himself with hope; for that being terminated on a future object, which is of a 'double nature, the mind attends to those arguments which produce a pleasant belief to find that, in several objects, which it cannot in any single one, and to make up in number, what is wanting in measure; whereas the present is manifest, and takes away all liberty of thinking. Upon this ground sensual pleasure is more expectation than fruition; for hope by a marvellous enchantment, not only makes that which is future present, but, representing in one view that which cannot be enjoyed but in the intervals of time, it unites all the successive parts in one point, so that what is divided and lessened in the fruition, which is always gradual, is offered at once and entire. Thus man carnal, deceived by the imperfect light of fancy and the false glass of hope, chooses a fictitious felicity. “Man walketh in a vain show," Psalm xxxix. 6. His original error hath produced this in its own image. And although the complacency he takes in sensual objects is like the joy of a distracted person, the issue of folly and illusion, and experience discovers the deceit that is in them, as smelling to an artificial rose undeceives the eye; yet he will embrace his error. Man is in a voluntary dream, which represents to him the world as his happiness, and when he is awakened, he dreams again, choosing to be deceived with delight, rather than to discover
the truth without it. This is set forth by the prophet, “Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way, yet saidst thou not, There is no hope,” Isa. lvii. 10; that is, Thou art tired in the chase of satisfaction from one thing to another, yet thou wouldst not give over, but still pursuest those shadows which can never be brought nearer to thee. And the true reason of it is, that in the human nature, there is an intense and continual desire of pleasure, without which life itself hath no satisfaction ; for life consisting in the operations of the soul, either the external of the senses or the internal of the mind, it is sweetened by those delights which are suitable to them; so that if all pleasant operations cease, without possibility of returning, death is more desirable than life. And in the corrupt state there is so strict an alliance between the flesh and spirit, that there is but one appetite between them, and that is of the flesh. All the designs and endeavours of the carnal man are by fit means to obtain satisfaction to his senses; as if the contentment of the flesh and the happiness of the soul were the same thing; or as if the soul were to die with the body, and with both, all hopes and fears, all joys and sorrows were at an end. The flesh is now grown absolute, and hath acquired a perfect empire, and taken a full possession of all the faculties. For this reason the apostle tells us, “ They that are in the flesh, cannot please God;" and “The carnal mind is enmity against God, it is not subject, neither can it be,” Rom. viii. 7, 8. It is ensnared in the cords of concupiscence, and cannot recover itself from its foolish bondage. But that does not lesson the guilt; which will appear by considering there is a twofold impotence.
There is a natural impotence, which protects from the severity of justice. No man is bound to stop the sun in its course, or to remove mountains ; for the human nature was never endued with faculties to do those things. They are indubitably beyond our power. Now the law enjoins nothing but what man had in his creation an original power to perform.
There is a moral impotence, which arises from a perverse disposition of the will, and is joined with a delight in sin, and a strong aversion from the holy commands of God; and the more deep and inveterate this is, the more worthy it is of punishment. Aristotle asserts, that those who contract invincible habits by custom, are inexcusable, though they cannot abstain from evil; for since liberty consists in doing what one wills, this impossibility doth not destroy liberty; the depravation of the faculties does not hinder their voluntary operations. The understanding conceives, the will chooses, the appetite desires freely. A distracted person that kills, is not guilty of murder, and therefore secure from the sentence of the law; for his understanding being distempered by the disorder of the images in his fancy, it did not judge aright, so that the action is involuntary, and therefore not culpable. But there is a vast difference between the causes of distraction, and those which induce a carnal man to sin. The first are seated in the distemper of the brain, over which the will hath no power; whereas there should be a regular subjection of the lower appetite to the will, enlightened and directed by the mind. The will itself is corrupted and brought into captivity by things pleasing to the lower faculties : it cannot disentangle itself, but its impotence lies in its obstinacy. This is the meaning of St. Peter, speaking concerning unclean persons, that “ their eyes are full of adultery, and they cannot cease from sin.” It is from their fault alone that they are without power.
Therefore the scripture represents man to be dobɛvns and doesns, weak, but wicked. His disability to supernatural good arises from an inordinate affection to that which is sensual, so that it is so far from excusing, that it renders inexcusable, being voluntary and vicious. And in this the diseases of the body are different from those of the soul. In the first, the desire of healing is ineffectual, through want of knowledge or power to apply the sovereign remedies ; whereas in the second, the sincere desire of their cure is insufficient, for the diseases are corrupt desires.
The natural man is wholly led by sense, by fancy, and the passions, and he esteems it his infelicity to be otherwise ; as the degenerous slave, who was displeased with a jubilee, and refused liberty. Servitude is his sensuality. He is not only in love with the unworthy object, but with the vicious affection, and abhors the cure of it. As one in the poet that was so delighted in his pleasant madness, that he was offended at his recovery ;
-Cui sic extorta voluptas Et demptus per vim mentis gratissimus error.” This is acknowledged by St. Austin in his confessions, where he describes the strife between conviction and corruption in his soul. He tells us in the conflict between reason and lust, that he had recourse to God, and his prayer
was,"Da mihi continentiam, sed noli modò ;" he desired chastity, but not too soon; he was afraid that God should hear his petition, it being more bitter than death to change his custom. This is the general sense, though not the general discourse of men. As the sick person desired his physician to remove his fever, but not his thirst, which made his drink very pleasing to him ; so man, in his sensual state, would fain be freed from the estuations of conscience, but he cherishes those carnal desires which gives a high taste to objects suitable to them.
From hence it appears, that though in the corrupt nature there is no liberty of indifference to good and evil, yet there is a liberty of delight in evil ; and though the will in its natural capacity may choose good, yet it is morally determined by its love to evil. In short, there is so much power not to sin as is sufficient to sin ; that is, that the forbidden action be free, and so become a sin. Which strange combination of liberty and necessity is excellently expressed by St. Bernard, that “the soul which fell by its own choice, cannot recover itself, is from the corruption of the will, which, overcome by the vicious love of the body, rejects the love of righteousness; so that, in a manner as strange as evil, the will being corrupted with sin, makes a necessity to itself, yet so, the necessity being voluntary, doth not excuse the will ; nor the will, being pleasantly and powerfully allured, exclude necessity.” The law therefore remains in its full force, and God is righteous in commanding and condemning sinners.
From all that hath been discoursed, it is evident how impossible it is for corrupt man to recover his lost holiness ; for there are only two motives to induce the reasonable creature to seek after it—its beauty and loveliness—the reward that attends it. And both these arguments are ineffectual to work upon him.
The beauty of holiness, which excels all other created perfections, it being a conformity to the most glorious attribute of the Deity, doth not allure him: for “Unusquisque ut affectus est, ita judicat;” man understands according to his affections. The renewed mind only can see the essential and intimate beauty of holiness. Now in fallen man the clearness of the discerning power is lost. As the natural eye, till it is purged from vicious qualities, cannot look on things that are bright and sublime, and if it had been long in darkness, suffers by the most pleasing object, the light; so the internal eye of the mind, that it may see the lively lustre of holiness,