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Ad Sect. 2. A Prayer for holy intention in the beginning and pursuit of
any considerable action, as Study, Preaching, &c. O eternal God, who hast made all things for man, and man for thy glory, sanctify my body and soul, my thoughts and my intentions, my words and actions, that whatsoever I shall think, or speak, or do, may be by me designed to the glorification of thy name; and by thy blessing it may be effective and successful in the work of God, according as it can be capable. Lord, turn my necessities into virtue; the works of nature into the works of grace, by making them orderly, regular, temperate, subordinate, and profitable, to ends beyond their own proper efficacy: and let no pride or self-seeking, no covetousness or revenge, no impure mixture or unhandsome purposes, no little ends and low imaginations, pollute my spirit, and unhallow any of my words and actions : but let my body be a servant of my spirit, and both body and spirit servants of Jesus; that, doing all things for thy glory here, I may be partaker of thy glory hereafter, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Ad Sect. 3. A Prayer meditating and referring to the Divine presence. | This Prayer is specially to be used in temptation to private sin.
O Almighty God, infinite and eternal, thou fillest all things with thy presence; thou art every where by thy essence and by thy power, in heaven by glory, in holy places by thy grace and favour, in the hearts of thy servants by thy Spirit, in the consciences of all men by thy testimony and observation of us. Teach me to walk always as in thy presence, to fear thy majesty, to reverence thy wisdom and omniscience; that I may never dare to commit any indecency in the eye of my Lord and my Judge; but that I may, with so much care and reverence, demean myself, that my judge may not be my accuser, but my advocate ; that I, expressing the belief of thy presence here by careful walking, may feel the effects of it in the participation of eternal glory, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
OF CHRISTIAN SOBRIETY.
Of Sobriety in the general sense. CHRISTIAN religion, in all its moral parts, is nothing else but the law of nature, and great reason, complying with the great necessities of all the world, and promoting the great profit of all relations, and carrying us through all accidents of variety of chances to that end, which God hath from eternal ages purposed for all, that live according to it, and which he hath revealed in Jesus Christ : and, according to the apostle's arithmetic, hath but these three parts of it; 1. Sobriety, 2. Justice, 3. Religion. “ For the grace of God bringing salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live, 1. Soberly, 2. Righteously, and, 3. Godly, in this present world, looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” The first contains all our deportment in our personal and private capacities, the fair treating of our bodies and our spirits. The second enlarges our duty in all relations to our neighbour. The third contains the offices of direct religion, and intercourse with God. : Christian sobriety is all that duty, that concerns ourselves in the matter of meat and drink and pleasures and thoughts; and it hath within it the duties of 1. Temperance, 2. Chastity, 3. Humility, 4. Modesty, 5. Content.
It is a using severity, denial and frustration of our appetite, when it grows unreasonable in any of these instances : the necessity of which we shall to best purpose understand, by considering the evil consequences of sensuality, effeminacy, or fondness after carnal pleasures.
Evil consequences of Voluptuousness or Sensuality. · 1. A longing after sensual pleasures is a dissolution of the spirit of a man, and makes it loose, soft, and wandering; unapt for noble, wise, or spiritual employments; because the principles, upon which pleasure is chosen and pursued,
are sottish, weak, and unlearned, such as prefer the body before the soul", the appetite before reason, sense before the spirit, the pleasures of a short abode before the pleasures of eternity.
2. The nature of sensual pleasure is vain, empty, and unsatisfying, biggest always in expectation, and a mere vanity in the enjoying, and leaves a sting and thorn behind it, when it goes off. Our laughing if it be loud and high, commonly ends in a deep sigh; and all the instances of pleasure have a sting in the tail, though they carry beauty on the face, and sweetness on the lip.
3. Sensual pleasure is a great abuse to the spirit of a man, being a kind of fascination or witchcraft, blinding the understanding and enslaving the will. And he that knows he is free-born or redeemed with the blood of the Son of God, will not easily suffer the freedom of his soul to be entangled and rifled P.
4. It is most contrary to the state of a Christian, whose life is a perpetual exercise, a wrestling and warfare, to which sensual pleasure disables him, by yielding to that enemy, with whom he must strive, if ever he will be crowned 9. And this argument the apostle intimated : “ He that striyeth for masteries is temperate in all things : now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we, an incorruptibler.”
5. It is by a certain consequence the greatest impediment in the world to martyrdom : that being a fondness, this being a cruelty to the flesh; to which a Christian man, arriving by degrees, must first have crucified the lesser affections : for he, that is overcome by little arguments of pain, will hardly consent to lose his life with torments.
Degrees of Sobriety. Against this voluptuousness, sobriety is opposed in three degrees.
1. A despite or disaffection to pleasures, or a resolving
against all entertainment of the instances and temptations of sensuality: and it consists in the internal faculties of will and understanding, decreeing and declaring against them, disapproving and disliking them, upon good reason and strong resolution.
2. A fight and actual war against all the temptations and offers of sensual pleasure, in all evil instances and degrees : and it consists in prayer, in fasting, in cheap diet, and hard lodging, and laborious exercises, and avoiding occasions, and using all arts and industry of fortifying the spirit, and making it severe, manly, and Christian.
3. Spiritual pleasure is the highest degree of sobriety : and in the same degree, in which we relish and are in love with spiritual delights, the hidden mannas, with the sweetness of devotion, with the joys of thanksgiving, with rejoicing in the Lord, with the comforts of hope, with the deliciousness of charity and alms-deeds, with the sweetness of a good conscience, with the peace of meekness, and the felicities of a contented spirit : in the same degree we disrelish and loath the husks of swinish lusts, and the parings of the apples of Sodom; and the taste of sinful pleasures is unsavoury as the drunkard's vomit. ·
Rules for suppressing Voluptuousness. The precepts and advices, which are of best and of general use in the curing of sensuality, are these :
1. Accustom thyself to cut off all superfluity in the provisions of thy life, for our desires will enlarge beyond the present possession, so long as all the things of this world are unsatisfying: if therefore you suffer them to extend beyond the measures of necessity or moderated conveniency, they will still swell : but you reduce them to a little compass, when you make nature to be your limit. We must more take care that our desires should cease, than that they should be satisfied : and therefore reducing them to narrow scantlings and small proportions is the best instrument to redeem their trouble, and prevent the dropsy, because that is next to an universal denying them : it is certainly a paring off from
* Apoc. ii. 17.
+ Desideria tua parvo redime; hoc enim tantum curare debes, ut desinant. - Senec.
them all unreasonableness and irregularity. “ For whatsoever covets unseemly things, and is apt to swell into an inconvenient bulk, is to be chastened and tempered : and such are sensuality, and a boy",” said the philosopher.
2. Suppress your sensual desires in their first approach'; for then they are least, and thy faculties and election are stronger : but if they, in their weakness, prevail upon thy strengths, there will be no resisting them, when they are increased and thy abilities lessened. “You shall scarce obtain of them to end, if you suffer them to begin.”
3. Divert them with some laudable employment, and take off their edge by inadvertency, or a not-attending to them. For since the faculties of a man cannot, at the same time, with any sharpness, attend to two objects, if you employ your spirit upon a book or a bodily labour, or any innocent and indifferent employment, you have no room left for the present trouble of a sensual temptation. For to this sense it was, that Alexander told the Queen of Caria, that his tutor Leonidas had provided two cooks for him "; “ Hard marches all night, and a small dinner the next day :” these tamed his youthful aptnesses to dissolution, so long as he ate of their provisions.
4. Look upon pleasures, not upon that side that is next the sun, or where they look beauteously; that is, as they come towards you to be enjoyed, for then they paint, and smile, and dress themselves up in tinsel and glass, gems and counterfeit imagery : but when thou hast rifled and discomposed them with enjoying their false beauties, and that they begin to go off, then behold them in their nakedness and weariness *. See what a sigh and sorrow, what naked unhandsome proportions, and a filthy carcass, they discover ; and the next time they counterfeit, remember what you have already discovered, and be no more abused. And I have known some wise persons have advised to cure the passions and longings of their children by letting them taste of every thing they passionately fancied : for they should be sure to
u Lib. iii. Eth. c. 12. p. 129. ed. Wilk.
Facilius est initia affectuum prohibere, quam impetum regere. Senec: ep. 86. "Nurtitopíay sad óriyagisticv. * Voluptates abeuntes fessas et pænitentia plenas, animis nostris natura subjecit, quo minus cupide repetantur. Seneca. Læta venire Venus, tristis abire solet.