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the mind is rather a party than a judge: but after the declination of that fever in the soul, in a quiet interval, it is seasonable to consider. Now if any simple passion when inoved, transports and confounds the mind, and makes it incapable of judging aright, much more the love of the world, a universal passion that reigns in men, and has so many swarming desires answerable to the variety of sensible things, and therefore is more unruly, lasting and dangerous than any particular passion. In short, sensual affections captivate the mind, and hinder its due considering the folly and obliquity of the carnal choice, and when incensed (as distracted persons whose strength grows with their fury) violently break all the restraints the understanding can apply from reason and revelation.
2dly. In order to make a right choice, we must be very watchful lest the general example of men taint our reason, and cause an immoderate esteem of temporal things. “The whole world lies in wiekedness,” in a sensual sty, without conscience of its misery, or care of regaining its happiness, deceived and pleased with shows of felicity. The way to hell is broad, as the inclinations of the licentious appetite; pleasant, as the delights of sense; so plain and easy, that men go to it * blindfold ; and so frequented, that it would force tears from any considering person, to see men so hasty to meet with damnation. When Calisto the harlot reproached Socrates that there were more followers of her beauty than his wisdom; the philosopher replied, that was not strange, because it was much easier to draw them in the way of pleasure, that is steep and slippery, than to constrain them to ascend to virtue, seated on a hill, where the ascent is slow, and with toil and difficulty. Now there is nothing more contagious than example. We blindly consent with the multitude, and are possessed with foolish wonder, and carnal admiring of worldly greatness, treasures and delights, neglecting to make a due estimation of things. It is the ordinary artifice of the devil to render temporal things more valuable and attractive to particular persons, from the common practice of men who greedily pursue
* Biop. * Συ' μεν γαρ επί την κατάντη αυτες πάντας άγεις, εγω δε επι την αρετην έκειν βιάζομαι, όρθία δε άνοδο έξι, και αηθός τους πολnois. Ælian, I. 13. 32. c.
them as their happiness. As some crafty merchants, by false reports raise the exchange, to advance the price of their own wares. The men of the world are under the direction of sense, and think them only to be wise and happy that shine in pomp, abound in riches, and overflow in pleasures. The psalmist tells us of the prosperous worldling, “that while he lives, he blesses his souls and men will praise thee when thou dost well to thyself.” By vicious imitation our judgments are more corrupted, and our passions raised to higher degrees for painted vanities. The affections in the pursuit of earthly things are inflamed by the contention of others. And when holy desires and resolutions spring up in men, yet so powerful is the custom of the world, that they often become ineffectual. As a ship whose sails are filled with a fair wind, but makes no way, stopped by the force of the current. Now to fortify us against the pernicious influence of example, consider,
(1.) It is most unreasonable in this affair of so vast moment to be under the direction of the multitude. For the most are sottish and sensual, governed by the uncertain motions of a giddy voluble fancy, and roving impetuous passion; so that to be led by their example, and disregard the solid immortal rules of heavenly wisdom, is as perfect madness, as for one to follow a herd of swine through the mire, and leave a clean path that lies before him. If there were but few in an age or country that were deluded with false appearances, it would be a disgrace to imitate the practice of the foolish : and shall the great numbers of the earthly-minded give reputation and credit to their error ? He were a strange fool indeed, that should refuse a single piece of counterfeit money, and receive a great heap in payment: as if the number added a real value to them. It is therefore a necessary point of wisdorn to divest all * vulgar prejudices, to separate ourselves from the multitule, that we may see the vanity of things, that dazzle inferior minds.
(2.) Consider the universal judgment even of worldly men in their last and serious hours, when the prospect of eternal things is open before them. How vastly different are their apprehensions of temporal things in the review, from what they were in
* Nunquam de vita judicatur, semper creditur, sanabimur, si modo separemur a cætu. Sen, de, vit. Beat.
their vicious desires ? How often do they break forth in the sorrowful words of the apostle, “We have been toiling all night, and caught nothing ?” When there are but a few remaining sands in the glass of time, and death shakes the glass before them, how powerfully do they preach of the emptiness and uncertainty of things below, and sigh out in Solomon's phrase, “ All is vanity ?" And this is more singularly observable in those who have had the fullest enjoyment of earthly things. How do they complain of the vain world, and their vainer hearts, when experience has convinced them of their woful folly? Solomon who was among other princes, as the sun in the midst of the planets, that obscures them by his illustrious brightness; he that had surveyed this continent of vanity, to make an experiment whether any satisfaction could be found in it, at last sadly declares, that all things here below are but several kinds and ranks of vanities, as ineffectual to make men happy, as counterfeit jewels of several colours are to enrich the possessor. Nay they are not only vanity, but vexation, an empty show that has nothing real but the vexation of disappointment. And shall we not value the judgment of men when they are best instructed, and give credit to their testimony when they are sincere ? Certainly in their approaches to the divine judgment they are most considerate and serious, they have the truest and justest thoughts of things, and most freely declare them. O the astonishing folly of men! they will not be convinced of the error of their ways, till they come to the end of them, and the sun is set, and no time remains for their returning into the way of life.
A steadfast belief of unseen eternal things is necessary to direct our choice,
Faith realizes things future, and controls the efficacy of present temptatious. The neglect of the great salvation proceeds from infidelity. The most that are believers in title, are infidels in their hearts. Consideration is necessary in order to a wise choice, It must be serious and deliberate; frequent, and with application to the soul. Motives to consideration. It is the noblest exercise of the mind, and most profitable.
iii. I shall proceed to show further what is necessary to direct us in our choice, that we may not fall into the double misery, of being deceived with a false happiness for a little time, and deprived of true happiness for ever.
First, A sound and steadfast belief of unseen eternal things.
Secondly, Serious consideration of the vast difference between things that are the objects of sight, and that are the objects of faith.
First. The sound and steadfast belief of eternal things is requisite to direct our choice aright. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb. II. 1. It assures us of their reality and worth, as if they were before our eyes, and in our actual possession. This divine light governs and conducts the will to choose wisely, and excites all the practic powers for the preventing the greatest evils, and the obtaining perfect felicity. When the devil, the deadly flatterer, by inviting representations of the world, entices the heart, the serious belief of the future reward so glorious and eternal, disgraces the most splendid temptations, and makes them ineffectual. “ This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” If tempted to lasciviousness by the allurements of an earthly beauty, faith represents the angelical lustre of the saints, when they shall come with the unspotted Lamb in-his glorious appearance; and this unbinds the charm, and makes the tempting person an object not of desire, but aversation. If tempted with honour to a sinful compliance, faith represents so convincingly the glory which all those who preserve their conscience and integrity inviolable, shall receive at the universal judgment, in the presence of God, and the holy angels, (as our Saviour hath promised, “He that serves me, him will my Father honour”) and the con fusion wherein the most honourable sinners shall then be covered, that with a generous disdain all secular honours will be despised. And it is as powerful to enervate the temptation of temporal profit. We read of Moses, “that by faith, when he was come to years," (and therefore more capable to understand and enjoy what felicity the brightest honours and greatest - riches could afford) “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season ; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect to the recompence of reward.” And all the evils which a wicked world, inspired with rage from satan, can threaten to fright vs from our duty, poverty, disgrace, banishment, nay torments and death, those terribles visu forme, so heightened by the carnal fancy, are easily overcome by a sincere' and strong be-, liever. Thus some who were urged by such motives to renounce their religion, * told the persecutors, that life was not sweet to them if they might not live christians, nor death bitter, if they must die for Christ. A lively form persuasion of the excellence and eternity of the reward, what miraculous effects would it produce? Nothing would be impossible within the compass of our duty, either to do or suffer in order to a glorious immortality. Faith has a celestial power, a magnetic virtue to draw up the heart from the earth, and fastens it to things above. It is not imaginable that a clear-sighted soul, that sees a good infinitely great, should reject it for mean things to please the lower desires. We may as probably imagine, that a skilful jeweller would part with the richest oriental pearls, for cherry stones to play with children.
From hence we may discover the true cause of the neglect of the great salvation offered in the gospel; “the word preached does not profit, not being mixed with faith in them that hear it.” It is astonishing to consider that earth should contend with heaven for our affections, and prevail against it; that vanity should turn the scale against the "exceeding and eternal weight
* Nec vereamur occidi, quos constat, quando occidimur, coronari. Cyp.