« AnteriorContinuar »
nation, that which provoketh God's wrath and ha- SERM. tred against us, that which assuredly will throw us into a state of eternal sorrow and wretchedness : The foolish shall not stand in God's sight ; he Psal. v. 5. hateth all the workers of iniquity : If ye do not Luke xiii. repent, ye shall perish: The wicked shall be turned sul. ix. 17. into hell, and all the people that forget God : The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of Cor. vi.9. God; The wicked shall go into everlasting punish-Matt. XXV.
46. vii. 21. ment: these are denunciations no less sure than severe, from that mouth, which is never opened in vain; from the execution whereof there can be no shelter or refuge. And what wise man, what man in his right senses, would for one minute stand obnoxious to them? Who, that anywise tendereth his own welfare, would move one step forward in so perilous and destructive a course ? the further in which he proceedeth, the more he discosteth from happiness, the nearer he approacheth to ruin.
In other cases common sense prompteth men to proceed otherwise ; for who, having rendered one his enemy that far overmatcheth him, and at whose mercy he standeth, will not instantly sue to be reconciled? Who, being seized by a pernicious disease, will not haste to seek a cure? Who, being fallen into the jaws of a terrible danger, will not nimbly leap out thence? And such plainly is our case: while we persist in sin, we live in enmity and defiance with the Almighty, who can at his pleasure crush us; we lie under a fatal plague, which, if we do not seasonably repent, will certainly destroy us; we incur the most dreadful of all hazards, abiding in the confines of death and destruction; God frowning at us, guilt holding us, hell gaping for us: every
SERM. sinner is, according to the Wise Man's expression, XLVIII.
as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as Prov. xxiii. he that lieth upon the top of a mast. And he that
is in such a case, is he not mad or senseless, if he will not forth with labour to swim out thence, or make all speed to get down into a safer place ? Can any man with comfort lodge in a condition so dismally ticklish ?
2. We may consider, that, in order to our final welfare, we have much work to despatch, the which requireth as earnest care and painful industry, so a competent long time; which, if we do not presently fall on, may be wanting, and thence our work be left undone, or imperfect. To conquer and correct bad inclinations, to render our sensual appetites obsequious to reason, to compose our passions into a right and steady order, to cleanse our souls from vanity, from perverseness, from sloth, from all vicious distempers, and in their room to implant firm habits of virtue; to get a clear knowledge of our duty, with a ready disposition to perform it; in fine, to season our minds with holy affections, qualifying us for the presence of God, and conversation with the blessed spirits above; these are things that must
be done, but cannot be done in a trice; it is not Rom. ii. 7. dictum factum, as soon done as said; but inquor ép
you dyaboy, a patient continuance in well-doing, is needful to achieve it; for it no time can be redundant; the longest life can hardly be sufficient : Art is long, and life is short, may be an aphorism in divinity as well as in physic; the art of living well, of preserving our soul's health, and curing its distempers, requireth no less time to compass it than any other art or science.
σιν ημίν χο
Virtue is not a mushroom, that springeth up of SERM. itself in one night when we are asleep, or regard it
XLVIII. not; but a delicate plant, that groweth slowly and oi xayoudoutenderly, needing much pains to cultivate it, much payah Pondacare to guard it, much time to mature it, in our un-annà rovoutoward soil, in this world's unkindly weather : hap-Chrys, ad piness is a thing too precious to be purchased at an Eph. noy. easy rate; heaven is too high to be come at without much climbing; the crown of bliss is a prize too noble to be won without a long and a tough conflict. Neither is vice a spirit that will be conjured down by a charm, or with a presto driven away; it is not an adversary that can be knocked down at a blow, or despatched with a stab. Whoever shall pretendo quam that at any time, easily, with a celerity, by a kind rum pu
tant, quibus of legerdemain, or by any mysterious knack, a man tam facile may be settled in virtue, or converted from vice, Quint. xii. common experience abundantly will confute him; which sheweth, that a habit otherwise (setting miracles aside) cannot be produced or destroyed, than by a constant exercise of acts suitable or opposite thereto; and that such acts cannot be exercised without voiding all impediments, and framing all principles of action, (such as temper of body, judgment of mind, influence of custom,) to a compliance; that who by temper is peevish or choleric, cannot, without mastering that temper, become patient or meek; that who from vain opinions is proud, cannot, without considering away those opinions, prove humble; that who by custom is grown intemperate, cannot, without weaning himself from that custom, come to be sober; that who, from the concurrence of a sorry nature, fond conceits, mean breeding, and scurvy usage, is covetous, cannot, without draining
SERM. all those sources of his fault, be turned into liberal. XLVIII.
The change of our mind is one of the greatest alterations in nature, which cannot be compassed in any way or within any time we please; but it must proceed on leisurely and regularly, in such order, by such steps, as the nature of things doth permit; it must be wrought by a resolute and laborious perseverance; by a watchful application of mind, in voiding prejudices, in waiting for advantages, in attending to all we do; by forcible wresting our nature from its bent, and swimming against the current of impetuous desires; by a patient disentangling ourselves from practices most agreeable and familiar to us; by a wary fencing with temptations, by long struggling with manifold oppositions and difficulties; 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 task; 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, lest 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 5 'Αλλ' άγε νύν ίoμεν, δή γαρ μέμβλωκε μάλιστα *Ημαρ, ατάρ τάχα του ποτί έσπερα ρίγιον έσται. Hom. Od .P.
as can be, and to proceed with all expedition; the SERM.
XLVIII. longer we stay, the more time we shall need, and the less we shall have.
3. We may consider, that no future time which
Ovid. de Rom. i. Epict. iv. J 2.