MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN

THE SIRENES; OR, DELIGHT AND JUDGMENT. Represented in a DISCOURSE Concerning the Great Day of Iudgment. And its Power to Damp and Imbitter Sen­sual Delights, Sports and Recreations.

By ANTHONY HORNECK, D. D. Chaplain in Ordinary to Their Majesties.

The second Edition, Corrected and Enlarged.

LONDON: Printed by H. Clark, for Henry Mortlock, at the Phoenix in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1690.

The PREFACE.

THough Practical Writers have this advantage of Controversial, that they do not make themselves so many Ene­mies, as the other, yet I know not, what the fate of the ensuing Discourse may be: For tho' the subject relate to Manners, and the Behaviour of Men, as Christians; yet it is to be feared, that not a few who think themselves Religious, and notwithstanding their pretended Piety, securely bathe them­selves in Delights, this Book condemns, may put no very favourable construction on such endeavours, as being levell'd against things, they are used to, and the Humour of the Age hath allowed of, and rendred un­questionable; and such it's like will call these attempts, pragmatical, and bid us, as Constantine did Acesius in another case, erect a LadderSocrat. Eccl. Hist. l. 1. c. 7. to Heaven, and climb up thither by our selves.

But it's God's Mercy, that while Chri­stianity is decay'd in the Glory and Bright­ness of its Life, the Bible is still among us, and that we are not to regulate our Religi­on by the sickly Fancies of half Christians, [Page] [...] [Page] [...] [Page] but by the standing Laws of that Jesus, whose Disciples we profess our selves to be, and whom the Primitive Believers thought themselves obliged to follow in external, as well as internal simplicity.

It's true, the Church is not now under Persecution, as it was in former Days, when Men made those mighty Progresses in Self­denial, but it is to be observed, that when the Saints of the first Ages pressed those Se­verities, they did not lay the stress on their persecuted Condition, and the necessity of the dismal Times they lived in, but on the Laws of their great Master, which they look'd upon to be as immutable, as the God that gave them: Nor can prosperity make any alterati­on in those Lessons, which Christ required as Essential to his Religion; Prosperity in­deed was intended to prompt us to a more cheerful discharge of our Duty, but not to a neglect of those Austerities, which are the best Ornaments of the best Religion in the World.

As Men have managed Prosperity, it hath been the greatest Bane of Religion, and the wisest Men have taken notice how Christia­nity since it hath crept out of the Thorns & Briars of Barbarous Tyranny and Oppression, [Page] hath been unhappily decreasing in its Zeal, and Fervour; Whether it is Fable, or Histo­ry that tells us, that a Voice came from Hea­ven, saying, This Day Poyson is poured out into the Church, when Ease & Plenty, and Rivers of Gold flowed into it, I shall not now enquire; Certain it is, that external Fe­licity hath smilingly undermin'd the Foun­dations of that admirable Doctrin, and that which was formerly built on the greatest In­nocence, hath since changed its bottom, and stands too much on shew, and formality.

Prosperity at this Day, to the great Sor­row of all considerate Persons, gives Law to Mens Religion, and whatever crosses Pro­sperity, is thought to cross Religion too. What is consistent with our ease, is allow'd of as good Divinity, & whatever runs coun­ter to our sensual Satisfaction, appears so aukward, that we fancy it no Religion, be­cause Flesh and Blood would not have it so; all which must necessarily arise from Unbe­lief, or a wavering Faith of a Life to come; either that future Life, the Son of God hath purchased, and promised, is not look'd upon to be so great, as it is represented in the Gospel, or it is not seriously thought of; for if it were, the Pleasures of this [Page] Life would grow pale, and their Beauty vanish, if compared with the glorious de­lights hereafter; and the Satisfactions of this World would soon lose their Charms, if view'd by that Light, which irradiates the Holy Cherubim: If that Life deserves not Self denial in the Pleasures of this present, Christ and his Apostles must needs have been out in the lofty Descriptions, they have given of it, and our Faith is vain; and in vain did the Son of God take all those pains, and suffer all the Agonies he did, to purchase a thing so tri­vial, and inconsiderable.

If it were a thing of no great moment, the but moderately Pious, would not be ex­cluded from its Glories; But when nothing but Heroick Virtue can promise it self a share in that Felicity, it cannot be other­wise, but that the Prize doth answer the difficulties in the pursuit of its attainment. They are Great and Masculine Acts, that Christianity prompts us to; and wherein can this Heroick Vertue be ex­pressed better than in a Noble contempt of what foolish Mortals count pleasant and tickling to their Flesh and Fancy? Such acts are arguments of a brave and [Page] generous Mind, and signs that our under­standings soar above the Moon, and rely more on what God hath promised, than on what the World for the present pays. This shews that our Souls do act like themselves, and not to be biassed by vulgar Sentiments, is that which gives a Man Reputation with the Best of Beings.

Christ in pressing these Lessons, hath on­ly made a clearer Revelation of what the Philosophers of old guessed at by the glim­mering light, which Nature gave them, and what can be more for a Man's Credit, than to do that, which both Nature and Grace have judged to be most honourable and glorious?

There is no Question, but if that E­ternal Life hereafter, were shewn in all its Glories, and Riches, and Contents to a sensual Man at the same time, that he beholds the most charming delights of the Flesh; and had he as lively a view of the one, as he hath of the other, the infinite brightness of the one would so eclipse, and darken the feebler splendour of the other, that he would not only be content to quit his inferiour delights for the enjoy­ment of the other, but would very much [Page] wonder at that Monster, that should re­fuse the greater for the lesser pleasures; so that all the difficulty is, how to make that Eternal Life so visible, that it shall move, and affect, and preponderate above all Earthly satisfactions. And the way to do this, is the same with the Method, that must be taken in making the Day of Judgment visible to us, which is the at­tempt of the following Discourse, in which I hope I have said nothing but what is agreeable to the Doctrin of the Primi­tive Church. If any shall find fault with some passages in it, because they contra­dict the Vanity and Luxury of the Age we live in, or charge me with medling with things, which do not belong to me to determine, all I shall reply, is this, that I have done no more, but what I have ex­cellent Precedents for, even some of the best Divines of our Church since the Re­formation, whose Example as I am not ashamed to follow, so since they thought it their duty to discourage such Vulgar Er­rours, it cannot be a Crime in us to follow their Faith, knowing the end of their Conversation.

THE SUMMARY Of the whole DISCOURSE.

  • THe Explication of the Text, Pag. 1—6.
  • The Proposition; That the Prospect of a future Judgment is enough to imbitter all the Sensual, and Carnal delights of Men, particularly of young Men, and to bring a damp upon the most Youthful, and most Jo­vial Temper imaginable, p. 7.
  • The illustration of this Proposition, p. 8—13.
  • The Heads of the Discourse:
    • I. What Reason we have to believe that there is a Day of Judgment. The Reasons drawn:
      • 1. From the Universal consent of the wiser sort of Mankind.
      • 2. From the Being, and Justice of God.
    • II. What there is in that future Judg­ment, [Page] that's able to cast a damp on the Mirth, and Jollities of Men, especially the younger sort.
      • 1. In the Prospect of this Judgment there appears a very serious Judge, the mighty Jesus, the Son of God, p. 22.
      • 2. A very strict Examination of what we have done in the Flesh, p. 33.
      • 3. A very wonderful Scene; The Person that is the Judge is the Law giv­er too, the Party offended, the Witness, and his own Advocate, p. 49.
      • 4. The unspeakable anguish and mi­sery of those, who have been most jolly and merry in this life, p. 67.
    • III. How the Prospect of that future Judgment must be managed, that it may actually damp, and put a stop to these Carnal delights?
      • 1. By thinking, reflecting, and rumina­ting upon that future Judgment, p. 78.
      • 2. By applying the particulars of this future Judgment to our selves, p. 87.
      • 3. By seconding all this with earnest Prayer, p. 95.
    • IV. Whether every Man is bound to imbitter his Carnal delights with this Prospect? Aff.
      • [Page]1. Because if not imbitter'd they will infallibly lead the Soul into innumerable dangers, p. 104.
      • 2. Because to imbitter such delights to our selves is a thing of the greatest concernment, p. 108.
      • 3. This imbittering our sensual delights with such a Prospect, is that, which men will certainly wish they had done, when they appear at the great Tribunal, p. 111.
    • V. Whether a Christian, that would be saved, is upon this account obliged to for­bear, and abandon all Sensual and Worldly delights, and recreations whatsoever?
  • The Answer to this Query laid down in several Articles:
    • 1. Spiritual delight is and must be the chief delight of a Christian, p. 117.
    • 2. Worldly delights, as are neither sinful in themselves, nor apparent occasions of e­vil, are allowable, p. 119.
    • 3. Delight in Gardens, Rivers, Orchards, &c. considered, p. 121.
    • 4. Of delight in Musick, either Vocal, or Instrumental, p. 123.
    • 5. Of delight in Books, p. 125.
    • 6. Of delight in Drinking and Tipling, p. 127.
    • [Page]7. Of delight in Cards, and Dice, p. 130.
    • 8. Of delight in Feasting, and going to Feasts, p. 136.
    • 9. Of delight in fashionable Cloaths and Habits, p. 142.
    • 10. Of delight in Painting and Patching, and artificial Meliorations of the Face and Skin, p. 160.
    • 11. Of delight in Dancing, p. 175.
    • 12. Of delight in Seeing and going to Stage plays, p. 186.
  • Inferences drawn from the Premises.
    • 1. How far sorrow is better than laughter, explained, p. 247.
    • 2. How differently Spiritual things affect men, as they either attentively, or inat­tentively think upon them, p. 262.
    • 3. How much the greatest part of the World is to be pitied, that can delight in no­thing, but what they can grasp and feel, p, 271.
    • 4. How unreasonable it is to harbour any hard Thoughts of Religion, because it debars us of dangerous, sensual de­lights, p. 283.
    • 5. How necessary it is to prepare for the Great Day of Account.
  • [Page]DIRECTIONS.
    • 1. To pity those inconsiderate Men that live, as if there were no future Judgment, p. 297.
    • 2. To spend some time every Day in re­flecting upon this Day, p. 299.
    • 3. To walk circumspectly every Day, and to use that conscientiousness we would use, were we sure, we should be sum­mon'd to Judgment at Night, p. 307.
    • 4. To reflect and think on this Day, when­ever we see, or hear of the judicial Pro­cess of a Malefactor, p. 310.
    • 5. To reflect on this Day, whenever we converse with sick, and dying men, or are present, when their Breath leaves their Bodies, p. 315.
    • 6. To reflect on this Day, whenever we go to a Funeral, p. 319.
    • 7. To judge our selves here on Earth, in order to avoid the terrour of God's fu­ture Judgment, p. 324.
    • 8. In our actions to regard not so much how they are relished with Men, as whether they will endure the Test be­fore the Judge, when our Souls shall appear before him, p. 328.
    • 9. To bear injuries patiently out of re­gard [Page] to this Day of Judgment, when God will set all things to rights, and take care, that we shall lose no­thing by our sufferings, p. 333.
    • 10. To consider particularly, that it will be more tolerable for Heathens, and Professed Infidels at this Day, than for Christians, p. 337.
    • 11. To make this Day a Motive to Chri­stian Charity, and Compassion, p. 342.
    • 12. Not to suffer our selves to be dis­couraged from admiring those men, who have always lived in the Thoughts and Contemplations of this future Judgment, p. 347.

Advertisements of two Books, Published by the Reverend Doctor Horneck, and Sold at the Phoenix in St. Paul's Church-Yard.

  • THe Happy Ascetick: Or, The Best Exercise. To which is added, A Letter to a Person of Quality, concerning the Holy Lives of the Primitive Christians. Octavo.
  • THe Exercise of Prayer, Or, A Help to Devotion: Being a Supplement to the Happy Ascetick, or best Exercise. Containing Prayers and Devotions, suitable to the respective Exercises: With Additional Prayers for several Occasions. Twelves.

THE SIRENES: OR, Delight and Judgment.

Eccles. xj. 9.‘Rejoyce, O young Man, in thy Youth, and let thy Heart chear thee in the days of thy Youth, and walk in the ways of thy Heart, and in the sight of thine Eyes; but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into Judgment.’

THere is no Man certainly bet­ter able to give us so true an Account of the Nature, Ex­tent, Danger, Exit, and End of sensual Pleasure, as Solomon, the Son of David; a wise Son of a wise Fa­ther, a Man wise to a Prodigy, wiser than all the Children of the East, to whose comprehensive Brain nothing came a­miss; whose penetrating Mind contain­ed the whole circle of Arts and Sciences, [Page 2] and whose insatiable desire after Know­ledge, made him enquire into the Na­ture of Sin; and not content with the speculation of the Delights it caused in corrupted Souls, ventured even upon the practice of them; he walked through the whole Garden, tasted of all the Fruits, smelt to every Flower, and I believe many times sinned, not so much out of fondness to the Sin, as for Tryals sake, to acquaint himself with the Nature of the Folly, and to see, whether there was really that satisfaction in it which the brutish part of the World said there was: But while he tried Experiments upon the Viper, the Beast flew into his Face, and poyson'd the Empirick. He went on in these slippery ways, and walk'd on this Sea of Glass a considera­ble time, spread the Sails of his sensual Desires, and bid his carnal Mind ask and crave whatever it could fancy, and if either Love, or Money, or Force could procure it, it should have it. He hugg'd all the little shooting flames he met with, and kissed every thing that had the name and reputation of Mirth [...]d Jollity.

[Page 3]But see the sad Catastrophe, and wo­ful turn of that pleasant Wheel; when he thought himself in Paradise, he found himself in Hell, and that which tickled his Senses at the first, proved after some time his greatest torment and vexation. Providence can be silent for a time; but at last the sleeping Lion wakes, and roars so, that all the Beasts of the Field do tremble; and Solomon, on whose Head the Candle of the Lord had shi­ned so long, found that Light at last go out in a Snuff, and himself the Object of Gods wrath and indignation; he found by sad experience, what it was to abuse the Wisdom God had bestowed upon him, how dangerous the Paths were he had walked in, what it was to pervert the End and Design of the Gifts of God; and what darkness and confusion it brought upon Men, and that makes him impart this sad Memento to the Man who hath Blood, and Youth, and Strength enough to be vain and foolish; Rejoyce, O young Man, in thy Youth, and let thy Heart chear thee in the days of thy Youth, &c.

[Page 4]By way of Explication, I must take notice of these few things:

1. That the words young [...] Man, and Youth in Scripture, especially in this Book, are not only meant of that time we com­monly allow to Youth, which is from Ten or Fourteen to Twenty or Five and Twenty, but include all that Age which is fit for Action, and the Hebrew words import so much, being derived from a Root, implying Choice and Election; so that the time here aimed at, is the most vigorous time of our Life, or that time which any Man of Sense would chuse for Action.

2. That those Sentences which sound like Exhortations, are perfectly Ironi­cal, or spoke by way of derision, as if we should say to a Man, Go play the Fool, burn thy Finger in the Candle, and see what thou wilt get by it; whereby, we do not mean that he should do so, but do rather express the silliness and simplicity of the thing, to make him avoid it: And such Ironical Expressi­ons, or mocking Exhortations are very [Page 5] frequent in Scripture; as, 1 Reg. 18. 27. Cry aloud, for he is asleep; which is a kind of mocking the stupid Priests of Baal, that called on a Stock or Stone; so, Jer. 49. 11. Leave thy Fatherless Children, and let thy Widows trust in me, i. e. Ay, go, comfort thy self with this, that I will take care of thy Fatherless Children, and provide for thy Widows, but thou shalt find thy self egregiously mistaken; So 2 Cor. 12. 13. For what is it wherein you were inferior to other Churches, except it be, that I my self was not burdensom to you? Forgive me this wrong; i. e. If I did wrong you in do­ing so, it was a very pleasant Wrong or Injustice, for which you have more reason to thank me, than to be angry with me. So here; Rejoyce O young Man, &c. i▪ e. go play the Mad-man, let thy sensual Appetite rove, gratifie thy Flesh, please thy besotted Heart, fix thine Eyes on what Beauty thou think­est fit; sing Care, and Reason, and thy Wits away, and see what the issue of all will be; and so much is evident from the following words, which are a Bridle [Page 6] to all these Extravagancies, and the Gall that embitters all these Sweets; and therefore the Chaldee Paraphrase justly turns these Mock-exhortations in­to a serious Admonition; Walk in hu­mility, let not thine Eyes gaze upon that which is evil, but be exceeding cautious; and so the Septuagint; Walk spotless in the ways of thy Heart, and not in the Lust of thine Eyes.

3. God brings a Man into Judgment two ways, either by causing his Con­science to awake with horror in this life, and laying some other heavy Affliction upon him, and there is Mercy in this Process; for this may yet lead the for­lorn Soul to serious thoughts of Repent­ance, bring the Pangs and Throws of the New-Birth upon her, and deliver her into a New-Creature: Or, where God intends a higher degree of Wrath, and Indignation, he lets the jovial Sin­ner alone on this side Hell, and the bur­then shall not fall on him, till he comes to look the angry Judg in the Face, at which time, as the Surprize will be greater, so the horror and anguish [Page 7] of Mind, which will seize on the Sin­ner, will, like Nebuchandnezzar's Fur­nace, prove seven times hotter than or­dinary; upon which follows eternal Despair, and endless howling and gnash­ing of Teeth.

The Result of all, is this Proposition:

That the Prospect of a future Judg­ment is enough to embitter all the sensual and carnal Delights of Men, particularly of young Men, and to bring a Damp up­on the most youthful and most jovial tem­per imaginable. Not only the Sense of the Text, I have already laid down, im­ports so much, but there is this farther in it, that the Wise-man seems to couch his Argument plainly thus; Do but take a view of that dreadful Judgment God is resolved to bring thy guilty Soul to, and thou wilt not dare to indulge thy self in the mad rejoycings of thy Youth, nor walk in the ways, and after the Fan­cies of thy corrupted heart, nor suffer thy wanton Eyes to fix on those Objects, from which God hath bid thee turn thy Face away.

[Page 8]You know the Story of the young Gallant, who riding by a lonely Her­mit's Cell, and finding the solitary Man very devout and fervent in Prayer, and looking with a severe and mortified countenance, called to him, Father, Fa­ther, what a Fool are you to debar your self of the charming Refreshments and Pleasures of this Life, and live here im­mured within Walls of Mud, and Clay? What if there should be no other world, to what purpose is all this Rigor and Mortification? The Hermit heard him, smiled, and replied, Ay, but Friend, What if there should be one, where are you then? What a Fool will you be then? How will you wish, that you had been in my condition? The Young­ster startled at these words, went home, left his Women, and his Swine, his Lusts, and dry Husks of brutish Delights, and like the Prodigal, became another Man.

The Truth is, we have seen this pro­spect of a future Judgment, have very strange Effects upon a Man, who was not apt to be frighted with sad Progno­stications, and that was Felix, a Person, [Page 9] who had drunk as deep of the stolen Waters of Sensuality, as any Man then living; for he lay in the embraces of Drusilla, who was another Mans Wife, and enjoy'd that Beauty which his lust­ful Appetite desired, without Lett or control: His Greatness bore him out in the commission of the crime; and what­ever Censures the soberer part of men might pass upon him, his Grandeur o­ver-aw'd them, that they durst not speak aloud of his Impiety, and all men flat­ter'd him, and himself drowned all the internal twitches and stings of Con­science with noise, and pomp, and mul­titude of businesses; yet, behold, when S. Paul reasoned of Temperance, Righteous­ness, and Judgment to come, the Text saith, Felix trem­bled. Acts 24. 25. The Sermon awaken'd the notions of Divine Justice, that were engraven on the Tables of his Heart, made him uneasie, put him into con­sternation, and for the present forced him to loath the Bed where his abomi­nation was wrought.

[Page 10]We are told of a Custom in some Kingdom, that the night before a con­demned Malefactor is to die, a very shrill Trumpet sounds before the Prison-door, which is a certain sign that he is to die next day; and before whose door soever the fatal Trumpet sounds over night, no Prayers, no Tears, whatever Condition he is of, or whatever Figure he makes in the world, can save him from being executed.

It happen'd in process of time, that the King who had made this Law, af­ter he had streamed out a considerable part of his Life in extravagant Actions, on a sudden became serious, was often seen to retire into his Closet, gave strict Order for extermination of all Vices; and though before he had doated on Mirth, and Jests, and sensual Satisfacti­ons, yet these were now all abandon'd, and turn'd into a Scene of Gravity and Sobriety: Such an alteration, we must think must be a very strange surprize to Courtiers; who, impatient of this change, and supposing it to be a Fit of Melancho­ly, took the freedom to ask him, what [Page 11] the reason of this Reformation was? The Kings Brother especially, none of the most Religious, sought often to di­vert him, tempting him to see Shows, and Plays, and Women, and such Baits as served either to plant or cherish Va­nity in his Mind and Affections, but all in vain.

One Night, the King desirous to bring his Brother to a better Sense of spiritual things, bids the fatal Trumpet to be sounded before the jolly Princes House, who, sensible of the meaning of that noise, that he was to die next morning, starts out of his Bed, throws by his stately Robes, puts on a ragged Gar­ment, weeps Rivers of Tears, and a mighty horror seizes his Mind, and as soon as it was Day, comes to the King in this posture, and intercedes for his Life: To whom the King said, O Bro­ther, are you frighted with the sound of this Trumpet, which foretels my Subjects approaching and inevitable Death, and doth this Noise force you into Tears, and Sackcloth, and hum­ble Supplications, and can you blame [Page 12] me for being serious, who know not how soon the Archangels Trumpet, of far greater consequence and importance than this, will sound in mine ears, and summon me and you, and all my Sub­jects to the Judgment-Seat of God, and perhaps to eternal Despair and A­gonies? Go home, said he, and by my example learn to despise the World, and prepare for that Day.

But this Subject will invite us to a larger Discourse, and therefore it will be necessary to enquire,

  • 1. What Reason we have to believe, that there is a Day of Judgment.
  • 2. What there is in that future Judg­ment that's able to cast a damp on the Mirth and Jollities of Men, especially the younger sort.
  • 3. How the Prospect of that Judg­ment must be managed, that it may actually damp and put a stop to these carnal Delights.
  • 4. Whether every Man is bound to embitter his carnal Delights with this Prospect.
  • [Page 13]5. Whether upon this account a man be obliged to mind nothing that savours of worldly Delight and sensual Satis­faction.

1. What reason have we to believe that there is a day of Judgment?

Having to deal with Christians, at least with men that profess themselves such, this Query seems needless; for the Scripture, which the Christian world pretends to believe to be derived from God, is full of Passages of this Nature, and assures us, that this Belief of a fu­ture Judgment, is as ancient as the Cre­ation of the World; For Enoch the se­venth from Adam, who in all probabi­lity had it from his Ancestors, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with Ten Thousand of his Saints, to exe­cute Judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds, which they have un­godlily committed, and of their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spo­ken against him, Jude v. 14, 15. And this Faith hath been followed by all the succeeding Saints, Patriarchs, Prophets, [Page 14] and judicious Men, was confirmed by the great Messiah, the Lord Jesus, and his Apostles, who gave us a more live­ly description of it, and hath since been entertained by all the Christian World, at least in profession, though there are but few that act and live like persons in­fluenced or over-aw'd by that Belief; so that if Christians keep close to their Principles, it can be no difficult thing to perswade them to believe that which they imbibe with their Mothers Milk, and Education advances into an open Profession and daily Declaration.

But we have seen, and do see a strange degenerateness in most Christians, and not a few that go under that Name, though they do not openly question this Truth, yet they either live as if they did, or Infidelity reigns secretly in their hearts; and it is to be feared, that whatever their Tongues may speak, in their Minds they are not fully perswa­ded of it.

And were such Men willing to be perswaded, it should be no contempti­ble Argument to convince them, one [Page 15] would think, that the greatest part of the World is of that Belief, not only Christians, but Jews, Mahometans, and the Heathens themselves; that it is a grand Article of the Jewish Faith, none can deny that ever convers'd with them; that the Mahometans are stedfast and sincere in their Assertion, and clear in this Point, any one may see that hath read their Alcoran; and that the Hea­then World is no stranger to it, appears from what their Sybilline Oracles, their Philosophers and Poets have professed.

The Sybilline Oracles indeed are sus­pected by Learned Men, and looked upon as Pious Frauds, used by the Fa­thers, thereby to convince the Heathens the better of the Mysteries of Christia­nity; though it will not enter into my head, how the Fathers could have con­firmed any of their Doctrines from these Oracles, if the Heathens they had to deal withal, either were not satisfied that those things had been spoken by their Prophetesses, or had believed that the Fathers had foisted those Ora­cles into the Sybils Writings, which [Page 16] either were not, or had never been there; for this would have been so far from being an Argument against the Pagans, that the Christians would have laid themselves open in nothing so much, as in these Quotations, had they been false or supposititious.

However, Plato's Wri­tings have been conveyedPlat. in Phaed. to us without any signal corruption, and he gives us a very ac­curate Account of this great Day, as Hydaspes, an ancient King of the Medes, had done before him, and the Heathen Poets, though indulging their Fancies in some things; yet have delivered ma­ny excellent Truths to us, whereof this future Judgment is not the least; we need go no farther than the Sixth Book of Virgils Aeneids, where the Opinions of the Ancient Heathen Sages are col­lected and expressed in Verse; and it is worth observing, that he makes his Judge Rhadamantus inflict particular punishments on those Souls that have deferred their Repentance to their Death-Beds.

[Page 17]And how can we imagine, that the whole World, at least the wiser part of it, should so unanimously believe a fu­ture Judgment after this Life, if either there had not been a great propensity in their Nature, to believe the Notion, or Reason had not convinced them of the Certainty and Reality of the Thing: If we grant, that God hath given a Law to Man, we must necessarily grant, that there must be a Judge to call those to an account, who have viola­ted and broke those Laws. Man we see is capable of being governed by a Law, and without a Law to govern him, would run wild, and become a meer Brute, we must therefore neces­sarily believe that God hath given us a Law; and what Law more sutable to his Nature, or the Principle of Rea­son, than what we have in the Bible, which is indeed the Law of Nature, expressed in livelier and more legi­ble Characters? It is fit therefore, there should a time come, when the Obedience and Disobedience of Men may be taken notice of, and [Page 18] the Obedient rewarded, and the Diso­bedient punished. God hath made Man his Viceroy here on Earth; to which purpose David said, Thou hast set him over the Works of thy Psal. 8. 6. Hands, and hast put all things under his Feet; and Experience shews, that Man hath a dominion over all irra­tional Creatures; and is it not conve­nient, that at the end of the world, when all Men have acted their part on this Stage, this Viceroy should be exa­mined, and asked, how true he hath been to his Sovereign King? What he hath done with the Creatures which have been given him for his use; And whether he hath not minded his own business more than his Masters?

If there is no Judgment to come, there can be no God; for without a future retribution this God cannot be just, and a God that is not just, is imperfect, and if imperfect, he cannot be God; so true is that Saying of Averroes, That whatever is most noble, and most praise­worthy in Man, must be attributed to the best and greatest Being, God blessed [Page 19] For evermore; Justice we see, is that, which makes a Prince on Earth great, and is one of the highest Per­fections he is capable of, which was the Reason that when Ptolomy asked the Seventy Interpreters of the Jewish Law, What King lived freest from fear and violence? He was answered, He that exercises Justice, punishes the Bad, and rewards the Good; and consequently this Justice must be ascribed to God, as the most perfect Being: It would be the most unreasonable thing imaginable, that those who love and fear him most, should be most oppressed, and go with­out reward; and those that abuse and dishonour him, slight and undervalue him, should live prosperously, and ne­ver feel his Displeasure or Indignation. If God be wise and just, this cannot be; and since this reward of the Inno­cent, and severity on the Wicked, is not administred and dispensed in this World, it must needs follow, that it must be in another, and the day of this future recompence, we call the Day of Judgment.

[Page 20]And though the Apprehensions of that vast multitude of Men, which be­lieve or profess it, about the manner and method of this day, be very diffe­rent, yet it is enough, that all agree in the thing, even those who have not the revealed Scriptures of the Old and New Testament; from whence we may just­ly fetch the truest and exactest descrip­tion of it, those Revelations and Wri­tings the Christians have, and what is said in them concerning the Righteous­ness of God, being most agreeable to the Nature of God, and the Actions of Men, and the Rules, the Supream Ar­chitect hath engraven on our Reason.

That there are some Men, who deny a future Judgment, we need wonder no more than we do, that the Fool should say in his heart, There is no God. That which makes a Man deny the one, tempts him to be bold in disbelieving the other. It is the true Interest of a sinful Life, there should be no Retribu­tion; and how can a Man act against God with any chearfulness or alacrity, except he puts him out of his thoughts, [Page 21] and to compleat the Folly, fancies that he will never call him to a reckoning. Its Mens Vices that are the cause of their Atheism; and were it not, that they are enamoured with their Lusts, their Reason would soon joyn issue with these Verities: It is not for want of Argu­ments that Men are Unbelievers in this knowing Age, but for want of Sobrie­ty and consideration; and while they suffer themselves to be drawn away by their sensual Appetite, no marvel, if in time, their Flesh incroaches upon their Understanding, and their brutish De­sires corrupt their very Reason, and they begin to think, that God is altogether such a one as they themselves. Love to Vice darkens the Understanding, which is never clearer than when Virtue go­verns the Man; Its Notions then are clear, and the Reasonableness of the things unseen appears without sha­dows and uncomfortable obscurities. Vice by degrees clouds the Mind, and Love to that makes the Man first re­gardless of those Truths; soon after he questions those Verities, and he be­gins [Page 22] to doubt whether he hath not been imposed upon all this while, and at last he sinks into a downright denial. The Devil we may suppose is not idle in these cases; and having first debaucht the lower Faculties, he soon corrupts the higher; and the Sinner once in the Net, comes to be involv'd in greater dangers, not to mention that a just God withdraws his Light, and Spirit, whereby the Soul falls into greater Darkness. But let's see,

2. What there is in the prospect of this future Judgment, that is able to damp the greatest Mirth and Jollity.

1. In the prospect of this Judgment, there appears a very serious Judge, even the mighty Jesus, the Son of God, who was seen to weep often, but to laugh never; even he that came into the World to teach men Self-denial in sensual Pleasures, not only unlawful, such as Wantonness, Effeminacy, For­nication, Adultery, Uncleanness, Drun­kenness, Feeding our Eys with Lustful Objects, and which produce ill Desires in us, Deriding and Jeering our Neigh­bors [Page 23] for their Infirmities, Luxury in Cloathing, Eating and Drinking, Mi­mick Gestures, Filthy Jesting, Love­tricks, Talking loosly, &c. But in some measure in Lawful also, especially where a greater good is to be promoted, and hath bid us use these outward Comforts as if we used them not, and rejoyce in them as if we rejoyced not, with fear and cautiousness, that they draw not our hearts away, and with a generous indifferency, as Persons who have laid up their Treasure in another World, and look for the Blessed Hope, and the Glo­rious appearing of the great God.

Such a Judge appears in this pro­spect; one who descended into this val­ly of Tears upon the most serious Errand imaginable, even to call Sinners to Re­pentance, to make them sensible of what God expects at their hands, to convince them, that they have Souls to be saved, to assure them, that though God is pa­tient, yet he will not be everlastingly affronted by bold and daring Men, and judges otherwise of things than besot­ted Mortals, and is in good earnest, [Page 24] when he bids them set their Affections upon the things which are above; one who will not be put off with fooling, nor spare a Malefactor for a jest; one who gave Mankind a Being and Habita­tion here, not to play, but to work, not to mind Trifles and Rattles, but the Concerns of a tremendous Eternity; a Judge, whose Eyes are like Flames of Fire, and his Feet like Brass glow­ing in a Furnace, who was indeed a Lamb when he had his conversation here on Earth, and like one was led to the slaughter, not opening his Mouth, and is still so to all those that take his Yoke upon them, and learn of him to be humble and meek, but will at last appear in all the Robes of Majesty which the Clouds of Heaven, and a Guard of Ten Thousand times Ten Thousand An­gels, and all the Light of the Throne of God can furnish him with.

This Judge knows all the Secrets of our Hearts, and before him all things are naked and open, and no Creature can hide himself; he is one who can­not be imposed upon by Sophistry, nor [Page 25] nor wheadled into a wrong Judgment of things by equivocation; whose pre­sence will shake the World, and put the greatest Captains and stoutest Souldiers into Fits of Trembling, and make them cry to Rocks and Mountains, Fall on us, and hide us from the Face of him that sits upon the Throne, and from the Wrath of the Lamb.

This Judge is not to be corrupted, nor to be bribed; cannot be carried away with outward respects, which make Judges here on Earth pervert Judg­ment; these judge too often according to Affection, and call white black, and black white, good evil, and evil good, defend vice under the notion of virtue, rashness under the name of fortitude, laziness under the colour of moderation, and timorousness under the title of cau­tiousness; these do too often become advocates for the Prodigal, and call them liberal and generous; the covetous with them pass for frugal; the Lascivi­ous for Courtiers; the Talkative for affable; the Obstinate for Men of reso­lution, and the Dull and Idle for persons [Page 26] who act with great deliberation: Love to their Kindred and Blood, makes them extenuate Faults in their Relations, and that which appears an inexpiable crime in Strangers, seems but a peccadillo or infirmity in a Child or Brother: Herod hurried away with his Amours to Hero­dias, beheads the innocent Baptist; Flaminius out of Love to his Harlot, violates the Publick Faith; Julius Cae­sar, out of fondness to Cleopatra, gives Sentence against her Brothers; David's inordinate affection to a Rebel-Son, tempts him to give the Army charge to take care of the young Man Absolom.

But the Judge we speak of, is of ano­ther temper; it was his Character here on Earth, that he was no respecter of Persons; nor could the Sons of Zebedee prevail with him to place them, one at his right hand, the other at his left; and it was not Kindred he would ad­vance to that Dignity, but such for whom it was prepared by his Father: Hence it was, that his Mother and Bre­thren found no farther acceptance with him, than they were obedient to his [Page 27] Word; and he deliver'd it as his Eter­nal Rule, They that do the will of my Fa­ther, they are my Mother, and Brethren, and Sisters; and with this Motto he gave a Reprimand to the Woman that cried, Blessed is the Womb that bare thee, and the Paps which thou hast sucked; yea, blessed are they, said he, who hear the Word of God, and do it: And he that here on Earth could not be wrought up­on by Kindred, or Consanguinity, nor blinded by Affection, sure will not be misled by these false Fires in the great Day of Judgment.

Judges here on Earth, if Passion, or Hatred to a Man, reigns in their Minds, are too often tempted to pass wrong Sentences: What the Effects of Prognes hatred to her Husband Tereus were, and how the innocent Son suffered by it; how dire the hatred of Medea to Jason was, and drew the death of their Chil­dren after it; how Joseph's Brethren condemned that guiltless Soul, meerly because they hated and envied him; and how the Jews dealt with our great Master the Lord Jesus upon this Princi­ple, [Page 28] both Civil and Sacred Histories do sufficiently manifest. But this impotent Passion cannot light upon him, who is to be the Judge in the last Day. He hates nothing that he hath made, and is so great a lover of all Mankind, that he would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledg of the Truth, and would give them all Eternal Life, if they would but take the way he pre­scribes them. The Devils themselves, could they be penitent, would be re­ceived into favour; and let a Man be born of a Jew or Turk, if he do but bring forth fruits meet for Repentance, nei­ther his odious Name, nor loathsome Kindred shall exclude him from his bo­som.

He hath no secret Spleen or Pique against any Person living; and though God under the Law seems to vent a particular displeasure against the seven Nations, and especially against the A­malekites, yet it was for their monstrous and unnatural Sins, that his just Dis­pleasure rose against them, not any private Grudge, or Envy he bore to [Page 29] them as Men, above other of his Crea­tures.

Such Imperfections are not incident to our Judge, who detests and abhors no person, but what makes himself de­formed and odious to his purer Eyes; and in every Nation whosoever serves him, and works Righteousness, is accepted of him.

Fear very often prevails upon Go­vernors and Men in Office here upon Earth, that they dare not speak their mind in passing Sentence, for fear of offending a Favorite, or losing their Places, or being accounted pragmati­cal, or missing such a Preferment, di­storts their Judgments, and makes them take wrong measures of things. This makes Laws Cobwebs for great Men, and Traps to catch lesser Animals; this tempted Pilate to crucifie the Holy Jesus, and though he was sensible of his Innocence, yet the word, If thou let this Man go, thou art not Caesar's Friend, turns the Scales, and makes him com­ply with the Fury of the People: But [Page 30] such Fears cannot fall on this Judge of the whole Earth: Whom should he fear? Of whom should he be afraid? He is omnipotent: Will a Painter be afraid of his Picture, or a Man of his Shadow? Man is but God's Picture, and his Shadow, and shall the Almigh­ty be afraid of his own Creature, whom he can crush into Atoms, into nothing with a frown? Who can make this Judge happier than he is already? What place can any Creature promise him, who doth what he pleases in all the Armies of Heaven, and among all the Inhabitants of the Earth? There is no caressing him with Gold; for all Men and women will appear before him poor and miserable, destitute of that Pomp, and Grandeur, and Finery, on which here they doated; and suppose they could carry their Wealth with them to the great Tribunal, what can they give him, who commands all the Treasures of the World, whose is the Earth and the fulness thereof, and who is himself the giver of those things which Man­kind preposterously place their happi­ness [Page 31] in? Here the greatest Emperors and Princes must appear without their Guards, without their Armies, with­out their Swords and Spears; Here Popes must leave their triple Crowns behind them, Kings their Diadems, Bishops their Miters, Noblemen their Lacqueys, and all stand naked and un­armed before the Throne; and suppose that Men were permitted to come with their former Retinue and Attendance into the presence of the Almighty, yet this would cause no fear in our Judge, who will come attended with an innu­merable Company of Angels, one of which did once slay one hundred four­score and five thousand Men in the As­syrian Camp.

Such a serious, such a magnificent Judge appears in the prospect of that future Judgment, even Jesus, the Son of the living God. He who was once despised and rejected of men, will at this time sit on the Throne of Glory, and all Eyes shall see him; and though God himself is sometimes said to be the Judge, sometimes Christ as Man, some­times [Page 32] the Apostles, sometimes the Saints in general, sometimes even wicked men; yet this implies no contradiction. In God no doubt, lies the Sovereign Power, and no Creature can either ab­solve, or condemn without his Will and Order; and this his Power of judging in the last Day, he hath committed to the Son of Man, or to Christ as Man, whom he hath not only made Heir of all things, but for a reward of his Suf­ferings, given a Name above every Name, and delegated him to be Judge of the Quick and the Dead; and this glorious Commissioner calls in the Apo­stles in the first place, and all other Saints after them, to sit with him on the Bench, and by their Suffrage to ap­plaud the Sentence he shall pass on the stubborn and obstinate; wicked men shall be Judges only comparatively, as the Means of Grace they had, were less powerful than those of their Neighbors, and yet went beyond them in Goodness and Holiness, at least were not so bad as they; and consequently shall be wit­nesses against them, and in a manner [Page 33] judge and doom them to unspeakable anguish, because they trampled on the Grace which was offered to their Souls, in which sense the men of Nineveh, and the Queen of Sheba shall rise in Judg­ment with that generation, who saw the Miracles of Christ, and repented not, and condemn them, because a greater than Jonas, a greater than So­lomon was here.

2. In the prospect of this Judgment, there appears a very strict examination of what we have done in the Flesh, not only of visible Actions, but of Words spoken in secret, and Thoughts, De­sires, Intentions and Resolutions of our Hearts; an Examination, which will be a very great surprize to the Sinner, who hath made light of things of this nature; for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid, that shall not be brought to light, saith he that understood this Day better than any Man living, Luke 12. 2.

Not only the bigger Crimes, such as Murder, Adultery, Fornication, Blas­phemy, unnatural Lust, Stealing, Per­jury, [Page 34] Atheism, Idolatry, Apostasie, Cursing, Swearing, Drunkenness, Ex­tortion, Covetousness, Contempt of God, and of his Word, &c. will here be manifested and censured, aggrava­ted and searched into, but the secret Lustings of the Soul, the hidden things of Dishonesty, the cunning Craftiness of men, whereby they lay in wait to deceive; the Mines and Pits men have privily digg'd for their Neighbors, their underhand Dealings, their Chamber­Practices, their sinful Contrivances in the Dark, or in their Closets, their sailing to the Port of Vain-Glory by a side-wind, their speaking Truth for ill ends, their Misinterpretations of their Brethrens Words and Actions, their re­porting things to anothers prejudice; all these will be laid open before the whole World.

Sinner, thy unchast Embraces, thy im­pure Wishes, thy wanton Glances, thy lascivious Looks, thy Delight in amorous Songs, thy acting thy Lust over in thy Mind again, thy ruminating upon thy last Nights Revelling, thy tempting thy self [Page 35] Sin, and being thine own Devil, and thy committing impurity with thy self, will all be set in order before thee, and the Judge will demand, how it was possible for thee, who didst profess thy self a follower of the Chaste and Holy Jesus, to dishonour him and his Religion with such extravagant Actions, and ir­religious Proceedings? Thy Slovenli­ness in Devotion, thy Hypocrisie, and seeming to be better than really thou wert, thy inattentive Prayers, the wil­ful Wandrings of thy Thoughts when thou wast speaking to God, thy not redeeming the Time, thy neglecting to observe the greater and weightier Mat­ters of the Law, thy mispending thy precious Hours, thy Idleness and Lazi­ness in Gods Vineyard, thy not giving to the Poor according to thy ability, thy Pride, and secret Envy, and desire of Applause, and sinister Ends and De­signs in Preaching, Praying, Admini­string and Receiving of the Holy Sacra­ment, and in other good Works, thy Flattering, and Dissembling, and Un­willingness to do good when thou hadst [Page 36] a fair opportunity; these will all be laid open to [...]y sorrow and confusion. Thy not being led by good Examples, thy slighting wholesom Admonitions, thy laughing at excellent Counsel, thy scorn­ing Reproof, and hating him that gave it, thy resolvedness to do that again for which thou wast reproved, the delay of thy seriousness, thy suffering the con­victions thou hadst to be choaked with the Cares and Riches of the World; thy being at an Ale-house when thou shouldst have been in thy Closet, thy being at a Play when thy Hand and Heart should have been lifted up in ho­ly Supplications, thy being in Bed when thou shouldst have been upon thy Knees, and neglecting a greater Duty for a Trifle or Impertinence, the Supper of the Lamb for Farms and Oxen, and thy preferring the silliest and most ridicu­lous Discourses before a Conference a­bout the momentous concerns of Eter­nity; these will all be rehearsed at large: For I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give ac­count thereof in the Day of Judgment, [Page 37] saith Christ, Matth. 12. 36. Not ha­ving repented of things of this nature, either through unbelief or carelesness, when these points shall come to be exa­mined, and thy Soul interrogated upon these Particulars, and so many too, it stands to reason, that it must necessari­ly cause very great astonishment; for these things were most certainly forbid in that Gospel thou didst profess, and that notwithstanding, as if such things had never been spoken of, thou shouldst slight them and undervalue them, and not think them worth thy care to shun them; what sad reflexions will this Examination cause?

In vain dost thou hope that Eagles catch no Flies, and that God will never mind such small, trivial and inconside­rable Errors. He that minded these smaller Faults, as they seem to carnal men, and took notice of them in this life, may justly be supposed resolved to call men to an account for them in that solemn Day of Reckoning; for indeed God's Proceedings here are an Emblem of his process in Judgment hereafter.

[Page 38]Eating of the forbidden Fruit in Pa­radise, seem'd but an inconsiderable oversight; yet did God curse the very Earth for that Fact, made it bring forth Briars and Thorns for the future, con­demned Adam to the eating of Bread in the Sweat of his Brows, and threatned the Woman, his Partner in the Error, to multiply her pain and sorrows. It doth not appear from Moses, that the Children of God, or Professors of the true Religion did any more than marry with the Daughters of the prophaner Crew, a small fault, a brutish Man would think; yet was the Insolence lash'd, and the inordinate Fire quencht with a Deluge of Waters; Lot's Wife looks back to Sodom, out of curiosity perhaps, a venial Folly, natural to wo­men, it seems to be, and no more; yet for doing so, she is turn'd into a Pillar of Salt: Achan, as a Souldier, (and that sort of men, we know, live much upon Prey) takes in a time of War a golden Wedge, and Babylonian Mantle (no great matter one would think) yet God orders him to be stoned; Uzzah, [Page 39] out of his over-care that the Ark might not fall, lays hold on't, to support it; yet for so doing, is struck with Death immediately; the Prophet who came from Judah to Prophecy against the Al­tar of Bethel, in suffering himself to be persuaded to eat Bread, by another Prophet, who pretended Visions too, to ones thinking, committed no great Crime, yet God revenged his Disobedi­ence with a violent Death; for a Lion, sent by God, slew him. Moses grows impatient at the Waters of Meribah; Who would not have done so that had to deal with so stubborn a People? yet that Act of Mistrust and Impatience cost him the loss of the Land of Canaan, he had so long desired to behold; the People of Israel murmured in the Wil­derness, a thing that People might ea­sily do who were kept so long in a bar­ren Desart, without seeing an end of their Travel, yet of that vast number of Six hundred thousand Men, not one enters into the Promised Land, save Ca­leb and Joshua; Ananias and Sapphira [Page 40] seemed to be guilty of no great Misde­meanor; for they were content to give half of their Estate to the poor, but kept the other to themselves; yet is God so angry, that he punishes their violating of their Vow to give all, with sudden Death. Go now, Sinner, and fancy, that God will not call thee to an account for Faults the World makes nothing of; because he doth not do it here, he will certainly do it hereafter, and the Exam­ples of the Bible are Items that he will do so.

It's no matter, whether the thing, in which the offence is committed, seem in­considerable or no, the disobedience is all in all; if God commands thee to a­void a thing that's trivial, its the easier Task to do according to his Will; and because it was so easie to obey, and thou wouldst not, its that which makes thy disobedience grievous and heinous, tho' the matter of the offence seems mean and contemptible. Rebellion is as the sin of Witchcraft, and Stubbor­ness is as Iniquity, and I­dolatry, 2 Sam. 15. 23. said Samuel, in a [Page 41] case much like this, where the thing done by Saul, was so far from seeming ill, that it appeared like a Work of Mer­cy, and an Act of Gratitude; for he spared the best of the Sheep, and brought home Agag the King alive in Triumph; yet this excused not the Fact, but rather aggravated it; for hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-Offerings, and Sacrifices, as in the obeying the Voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than Sacrifice, and to hearken, than the Fat of Rams, as the Prophet tells him, v. 22.

This confirms the Method of Christ's proceeding in the last Day; and indeed how could that Judgment be perfect, if the lesser, as well as the greater Er­rours were not to be accounted for, and mens disobedience against the lesser, as well as the greater Commands of the Gospel, was not to be manifested and proclaimed before the World? And though this is chiefly to be un­derstood of men who die without sin­cere Repentance, yet it is more than probable, that even the sins [Page 42] of those who were justified and san­ctified, will be brought to light, and discovered before the vast Assembly that shall appear before the Throne of God in that Day; not that they need fear any hurt or disadvantage that will arise from that examination and publication, but by these means both the Glory of God, and the Glory of these true Con­verts will appear more illustrious; the Glory of God, who hath snatch'd such Persons like Brands out of the Fire, pull'd them out of the miery Clay, in which they were ready to perish, and taken them out of the Devils Clutches, than which, there cannot be a greater sign of the power and goodness of God; and who sees not how much it will be for the Credit and Honour of the Saints themselves?

For to let the World see first the Bands and Ropes that once held them, and how, like Samson, they broke them all, and carried away the gates of Gaza, and escaped out of Hell in despight of all the Devils, that raged and stormed, and domineer'd there; What can be [Page 43] said more for their renown and glory? What hurt doth the penitent Mary Mag­dalen receive by the Evangelists record­ing, or our speaking of her former Whoredoms? No more will the re­vealing of holy Mens faults and errors in the last Day, eclipse, but rather ad­vance their goodness, because they ex­tricated themselves from the Snare of the Fowler, and generously rouzed themselves from their fatal Slumber, and in despight of Temptations, would press towards the Mark of endless glory. Their Errors being published, with their true Repentance, and Change of Life, justi­fies God in accepting of them, while he refuses others, and proclaims their Wisdom in chusing the better part, and condemns the impenitent, and discovers how justly they are left to Gods Ven­geance, who would in despight of all the Offers of Gods favour, prefer their Dirt and Trash before an invisible, last­ing and solid Felicity; And though its true, that holy mens Sins are said in Scripture to be covered, and God is brought in, promising to remember [Page 44] their Sins no more, but to drown them all in the depth of the Sea, yet can the meaning of such Passages be no other than this, that God will not remember them, so as to make use of their Errors against them to their ru­ine and condemnation; notwithstand­ing this, he may justly publish them, that their Wisdom being compared with their Folly, that may appear to go beyond this, and themselves from the thoughts of their former Sins, may reap the greater comfort; as Agathocles, be­ing advanced from the Trade of a Pot­ter to a Throne, at his Meals would still make use of Earthen Pots, not only to remember his Original, but from the contemplation of his former poor and miserable Condition, to increase his present satisfaction; for as in our fall from a high degree of Prosperity, to the greatest Poverty and Misery, nothing torments the Mind more than the Re­membrance that once it was otherwise with us; so, where Providence is so kind, as to bring us out of a horrible Pit, and sets our Feet upon a Rock, the [Page 45] remembrance of our former Misery sig­nally increases our Joy and Comfort in the present Mercy.

So then, in this great Day all mens Sins will be examined and published, though with different effects; the Pe­nitents, to their absolution and glory; the Impenitents, to their terror and con­demnation; for to be presented there with a List of innumerable offences and Affronts of the Divine Majesty, which their own Consciences know and must acknowledg, which yet they either ne­ver seriously thought of, or never seri­ously attempted to forsake; or if they repented, discovered only a mock-re­pentance; what effects can this be sup­posed to cause, but monstrous confusion; and horror of mind? Enough to put men into the greatest rage and distracti­on, to think, that they should neglect purchasing the Pearl of Price, when it was offered to their choice by God and Man.

Here particular enquiry will be made, how we have discharged the Duties of our several Relations; it's not the Pur­ple [Page 46] of Princes, nor the Rods and Axes of Magistrates that will make the Al­mighty afraid of demanding of them, whether they have ruled their Subjects in the fear of God, shewn them a good Example, and punished the obstinate, and encouraged the good, and made it their business to advance Gods glory, and to maintain the true worship of the living God; Nor will Subjects be ex­cused here, neither must they think to come off without making distinct An­swers to these Interrogatories; Whe­ther they have obeyed, not only for Wrath, but for Conscience-sake; whe­ther they have behaved themselves pea­ceably under the Government they have lived under; whether they have paid Tribute to whom Tribute was due, Ho­nour to whom Honour; and whether they have not used their Liberty for a Cloak of Maliciousness.

In the same manner, Parents will be strictly examined, Whether they have brought up their Children in the nur­ture and admonition of the Lord; Chil­dren, Whether they have honoured [Page 47] their Parents as became persons, who under God owed their Being to them; Servants, whether they served their Masters according to the Flesh in single­ness of Heart, as unto Christ: And likewise all other Persons according to the Relations and Offices they stood in; for in all these Relations, men are Stew­ards, and both Reason, and Gods Ju­stice, and his Word require, that all should give an Account of their Stew­ardship.

At this time, the Soul being throughly awaken'd from her former Lethargy, every Sin will appear more dreadful, every Error more red, every Fault more bloody, every Offence blacker than or­dinary; for the Fire of that Day doth not only scorch, but enlighten and ele­vate the Soul into a thinking state, and none of the former Impediments will now be able to divert her Thoughts, which will be fix'd upon an offended God, and his Majesty, Greatness and Holiness, and make at this time more sensible impressions on her, while every thing, especially, what hath been com­mitted [Page 48] against God, will appear in more lively Colours; and consequently, if the Conscience hath not the remem­brance of a former sincere Repentance to support her self withal, the frights must necessarily be great, and the whole Frame sink into inexpressible confusi­on.

There are innumerable Sins, which neither Prince, nor Magistrate can take notice of: How many Poor are oppres­sed? How many innocent men wrong'd daily? A Socrates is abused, and hath no helper; but neither this Mans Mise­ry, nor the others oppression shall escape the Eyes of that all-seeing Judge, who will infallibly publish both the one and the other, and make good the Type St. John speaks o [...]Rev. 6. 5. And I be­held a black Horse, and he that sate on him had a pair of Ballances in his Hand; Ballances to weigh every mans evil works, which if they be found to pre­ponderate above the good, or to be pure Sins, pure Offences, without a godly sorrow to take off either the colour or the weight, all will be turned into black­ness and desolation.

[Page 49]3. In the Prospect of this Judgment, there appears a very wonderful Scene; the same Person that is the Judge, is the Lawgiver too, the Party offended, the wit­ness, and his own Advocate: He that shall sit on the Tribunal in that Day, was the Person that came down from Heaven, and blessed the World with the equitable Precepts of the Gospel; it's he that went up into a Mountain, and from that Pulpit pronounced, Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven; Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted; Blessed are the Meek, for they shall inherit the Earth; Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after Righteousness, for they shall be filled, &c. Matth. 5. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. It's he that came to undeceive both the Jewish and Heathen World in the false Notions they had imbibed concerning their Duty, and cleared the Moral Law of Moses, of the false Glosses the Pha­risees had put upon it, explain'd the will of God, set it naked and pure before the People, he came to call to Repentance, and let them see what were the proper [Page 50] Preparatives for the everlasting Joys of Heaven: It's he who guarded the Law which he promulged with Sanctions su­table to his majesty and greatness; and as he made the Rewards eternal, so the Punishments he threatned to the stub­born and impenitent were endless too; So it became him who appeared in the World to offer infinite Mercy to poor Sinners, to reveal to them Gods infinite Love to their Souls, and to acquaint them with the infinite condescension of the Son of God, who would humble himself to the Death of the Cross, to re­deem them from the Bondage of the Devil.

He that came into this Valley of tears with so much love and light about him, might justly enjoyn reformation of the whole man, and a transformation of the mind, and temper of the Soul, and require a conformity to his own Life, and insist upon mens becoming patient, and humble, and charitable, and con­tented, and peaceable, and watchful over their Thoughts, and Words, and Actions, and heavenly-minded: How [Page 51] could this Grace, which appeared to all men, challenge less than Self-denial, and Contempt of the World, and living in the thoughts and expectation of a bet­ter Life, and seeking earnestly for glo­ry, and honour, and immortality?

And as he, that will be the Judge in that Day, is the Lawgiver too, so he understands best the meaning of his Laws; nor will Tricks, and Evasions, and false Constructions of those Laws signifie any thing before him, who will not depart from the sense his eternal Wisdom put upon them, and which by his Prophets and Ministers he once caused to be proclaim'd in the Ears of men.

The Sinner in that Day, will not have to do with Deputies, and Lieutenants, and Delegates, who too often make the Law a Nose of Wax, and can turn and interpret it to what sense they please, and their Interest dictates; are some­times unskilful, and apt to mistake the Law of their Superiors; and these Laws not being of their own making, are the colder, or the more remiss in executing [Page 52] them; but here men shall see the Law­giver himself, who will not be put off with Pretexts and Pretences, as ordina­rily Deputies, and such Persons are, as are employ'd by the Supreme Law­givers in a Commonwealth or King­dom.

Even here on Earth, where the Law­givers themselves sit Judges, the Male­factor must expect severer dealings; in this case, even Lycurgu's Wife shall not escape, that durst break her Husband's Law against riding in a Chariot during the time of Divine Service; and Zaleu­cus, his Son, must lose his Eye, for slight­ing his Father's Order against Adulte­rers; not to mention the Severities of Manlius Torquatus, Epaminondas, Tenes, &c. on their own Children where the Le­gislators have sat Judges of their Crimes and Errors.

The Almighty Judge in that Day will justly resent the Affront done to his Laws: He hath Reason to resent it; greater Reason than any Potentate in the world hath to take it ill that their Laws are set light by; Gods Law being [Page 53] holy, and perfect, and infallible, and under an impossibility of Errour; and a Mercy it is, a wonderful Mercy, that he vouchsases to give such a Law to the Children of men; and a greater Mercy yet, that his Son came into the world to publish it, and so many thousand Messengers besides are sent to declare it, so that in this affront Mercy and Good­ness, as well as Justice, and Sovereign­ty, and Power, are wronged and abu­sed; and as all Perfections in God are infinite, so whatever injury is offered to any of them, it receives a deeper Dye and greater aggravations from the Infi­nity of those Attributes; God, who is omniscient, sees the virulent nature of this Affront; and indeed none is better able to declare the heinousness of such contempt than he, and this must neces­sarily encrease the Terror of that Day,

And as he is the Law-giver, against whose Precepts the Sinner hath offend­ed, so he is the Party offended too.

Sinner, This is he, whose Body and Blood thou hast so often receiv'd unwor­thily in the Sacrament; this is he, to [Page 54] whose Cross thou hast been an Enemy so many years, on whose Merits thou hast trampled, whom thou hast so often crucified afresh, whose Temple thou hast defiled, whose House thou hast dis­honoured, whose Gospel thou hast been ashamed of, and therefore wonder not, if such thundring Queries come forth from the Throne at last; dost not thou remember how oft thou hast broke thro' the Guards and Fences I have set be­twixt thee and Sin? How couldst thou find in thy heart to afflict and grieve me so often, who have endured such Ago­nies already on the Cross? Why wouldst thou forsake me, the Fountain of Living Waters? How is it that thou wast not afraid to make thy Belly, thy Gold; thy Harlot, and such a great Man thy God? Did ever any Person oblige thee more than I? Didst thou ever receive such Favours at any mans hand, as thou hast received at mine? And why could not I have thy Heart, and thy Will and Af­fections? Why must a sottish Lust and Passion engross thy Desires, and my Law be cast behind thee?

[Page 55]If ever Law-giver had reason to be offended, this Judge in the last Day hath; for his Commandments were not grievous, his Yoke was easie, and his Burthen light; all that was required, was Love; and it's hard, if so small a Tribute for his ineffable and incompre­hensible Mercies must not be paid him. Its true, this Love must extend, and branch it self into various Acts of Meek­ness, and Patience, and Humility, &c. But still where Love is the Principle, none of all the other things which are required, can seem tedious or diffi­cult.

Nor is this all; for the same Judge will be Witness against the Sinner too: Indeed no Creature can be so true a Witness against him, as the Judge him­self: There are many Sins no Crea­ture ever saw, but he, and therefore who so fit a witness against those crimes as he? I will come near to you to Judg­ment, and I will be a swift Witness a­gainst the Sorcerers, and against the A­dulterers, and against the false Swearers, and against those that oppress the Hireling [Page 56] in his wages, the Widow, and the Father­less, and that turn aside the Stranger from his Right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of Hosts, Mal. 3. 5. This Judge sees all, nor will the Sinner be able to elude this Testimony of the invisible God. When thou wast under the Fig-tree, I saw thee, said Christ to Nathanael; his Consci­ence knew he had been there, and he believed. But this was in love.

In that Day we speak of, such Lan­guage as this will be pronounced in wrath and indignation, and therefore will cause other Thoughts in the hearts of the Wretch that shall hear it; Thou careless Creature, couldst thou imagine that any thing was hid from me? Did not I see thee at such a time, in such a place, in such a Garden, in such a Chamber play­ing the Rebel, and the Wanton? Did not I see thee treating with mine Enemies? Did not I see thee conspiring against me? Hadst not thou such base thoughts, such wicked intentions, such impure desires in such Company? I opened the Windows of Heaven, and looked upon thee, when thou wast committing Fornication with such [Page 57] a Woman: Wilt not thou believe me, who look'd within the Curtains, and saw thy abominations? Couldst thou think I would look on, and not set thy sins in order before thee [...]?

There will be no contradicting of this Testimony; for thy Conscience, O man, will immediately joyn issue with it, and say, as Nathan to the guilty King, Thou art the Man. For, besides this grand Witness, there will abundance of other Witnesses come in, which will all help to cast thy impenitent Soul; thy Consci­ence here will have a great share in the Accusation; that Conscience which once thou didst smother, and curb, and put by, when it pull'd thee by the sleeve, and bid thee be wise and serious; that Conscience that once bogled and win­ced, when thou offeredst violence to it, and said to thee, as the Baptist to Herod, it is not lawful for thee to espouse this sin; that Conscience, which was a ware of this Judgment, and gave thee warn­ing, and could not with all the strongest Arguments it used, prevail with thee to stand in aw of God; this, like one [Page 58] of Job's Messengers, when the House falls, and all these outward things are gone, alone escapes, to tell the Sinner of his Folly.

Conscience, even in this life, doth sometime force the guilty to make con­fession of their sins: It forced the Mul­titude that came to St. John, Matth. 3. 6. It forced Judas to cry, I have betrayed innocent Blood, when no Creature prompted him to the Confession. It forced those who had used curious Arts, Acts 18. 18, 19. to bring their Schemes and Figures, and Astrological Tables, and burn them before the Apostles of our Lord. How much greater then, may we suppose, will the force of it be in that Day, when terror will surround it, when it will be readier to speak, and to accuse, than God to ask, and when no noise, no tumult, no croud, no bu­siness will be able to divert it?

With the Conscience, the Devils themselves will joyn, who are there­fore emphatically called The Accusers of the Brethren, Rev. 12. 10. These cannot but know our sins, for they were the [Page 59] Tempters, and remember how we yield­ed, and consented to their suggestions. These were the constant and indefatiga­ble Observers of our lives. These watch­ed our going out, and our coming in; these were about us when we lay down, when we rose, when we walked, and when we sate, and whatever we did; these were still at hand to take notice of our doings, our words, and our be­haviour; nor is their Memory so frail, as to forget it, nor their Malice so little, as to let it slip without making publica­tion of it. These rejoyce in our ruine, and will be sure to make the worst in­terpretation of our deportment. These are they that presented us with charm­ing objects, and were restless till they had made us enamoured with them, first drove us into the Snare, and now will be ready to accuse us for being ta­ken. And therefore the Fathers, in their Discourses concerning this Day, do justly bring in the Devil, arguing, and pleading with the Almighty Judge, Behold these men; its true, they were thine by Creation, but they became [Page 60] mine by imitation of me; they had thy Image upon their Souls, but see, they have defaced that, and chosen mine; thou didst breath on them by thy holy Spirit, but they were more fond of my suggestions, than those motions. Thou didst indeed draw them with Cords of Love, and by temporal and spiritual Mercies soughtest to make them in love with thy Will, but they turned a deaf Ear to thy Call and Invitation; I never gave them any, nor promised them any thing, yet they served me like Slaves; thou courtedst them, and didst oblige them to love thee, yet they had rather be my Favorites than thy Darlings; if thou didst command them any thing, that was against their Lusts, either they did nothing, or would be sure to pro­voke thee with their inventions; I did but becken to them, and they flew to my Camp; nay, they were more im­pudent than I, believed less than I, found out sins I did not dream of, durst do more than I bid them; I bid them deny a thing, they had done; and they not only denied it, but swore to it by all [Page 61] that's good and holy; I bid them take their ease and be merry, and they made themselves Swine; I bid them neglect God's Service on the Lord's Day, but they prophan'd it besides, by playing, and drinking, and other Enormities; I bid them keep what they had got, but they went beyond what I prompted them too, oppressed, cheated, dissem­bled, and made way to their Wealth through oppression of the Widow and Fatherless. These therefore have my Image and Superscription, and conse­quently must be mine. I claim them as mine own; I challenge them as they are Apostates and Traytors to thee: It is thy Statute, which like the Laws of the Medes and Persians, is irrevocable, that those shall be despised, who did lightly esteem thee. Nor can God be worse than his Word, but must deliver up the Sinner, whom no Mercy could reform, to these Tormenters.

Nay, if we have opressed any Persons, those very Persons will be Witnesses against us. Abel will in that Day bear witness against Cain his Murderer; Na­both [Page 62] against Ahab, whole Countries a­gainst their Tyrannical Princes; Israel against Pharaoh; in the same manner, those whom we have corrupted with Gifts or Moneys, or some other way, will stand up against us; Herodias a­gainst Herod; Drusilla against Felix; the Harlot against her Inamorato; He­lena against Paris; Danae against Jupi­ter; and Men and Women perverted by Hereticks, against the Broachers of false Doctrines; And how can there be want of Witnesses, when our School­masters, our Parents, and other good Men, whose Counsels we rejected, whose Admonitions we despised, and whose frequent Exhortations we laughed at, will be forced to speak what they know against us. Sinner, the Ministers of the Gospel, those who followed thee with Checks and Intreaties to be reconciled to God, will be obliged to speak of thy Stubbornness and Impenitence: Nay, this Pulpit, these Walls, these Stones▪ these Pews will cry out against thee! Heaven and Earth areIsa. 1. 3. even in this Life called in as [Page 63] Witnesses against the Monsters, who were more inconsiderate than the Ox or Ass; much more in that Day, when God will bring every thing into Judg­ment, not only the sinful Actions, but the very Places in which those Actions were committed.

Such Witnesses will be the Riches and Goods thou hast abused; the Gold thou hast spent upon thy Luxury, the Silver thou hast thrown away in a Frolick, the Garments thou hast abused to Pride, the Corn and Bread thou hast play'd with­al, the Hungry whom thou hast not fed, the Thirsty, to whom thou hast not given drink, the Naked, whom thou hast not cloathed, when it lay in thy power; the Prisoners, whom thou hast not visited; these will all be Accusers of thy Abuses and Uncharitableness. But the Accusation of all these might yet be born with; it's the Testimony of the Judge, who shall approve of all that these Witnesses aver; which ap­pears most dreadful and terrible, and therefore certainly, the Prospect of this Judgment is able to damp the greatest Mirth and Sensuality.

[Page 64]And as this Judge will himself be Witness in that Day, so he will be his own Advocate too. To this purpose, saith the Pathetick Nazianzen; What shall we do, my Friends, what shall we say, what Apology shall we make, when this Judge shall plead for himself in that Day? Thou disobedient Wretch, I made thee of Clay with mine own hands, and breathed the Breath of Life into thee; I made thee after my Image, I gave thee Reason, and Understanding, and Power and Dominion over the Beasts of the Field; a Mercy, which i [...] I had not vouchsafed unto thee, those Creatures, which are stronger than thou, would have master'd and de­stroy'd thee; I placed thee among the Pleasures of Paradise, made thee a hap­py Inhabitant of Eden, and when thou wouldest needs hearken to the false and treacherous Suggestions of thy sworn Enemy, behold, in pity and commise­ration to thee, I resolved to be born of a Virgin, and accordingly took Flesh, and became Man for thy sake, was born in a Stable, lay unregarded in a Manager, [Page 65] swadled in Rags and Clouts, endured all the Reproaches and Injuries that Childhood is subject to, bore thy griefs, and assumed thy infirmities, and was made like thy self, that thou mightest be like me in Felicity at the end of thy Race. I suffered men to trample on me, to buffet me, to spit in my Face, to give me Gall and Vinegar to drink, to scourge me, to crown me with Thorns, to wound, and nail me to the Cross, and all this, that I might deliver thee from Eternal Contempt and Torments. Be­hold the Mark of the Nails which were struck into my Flesh. Behold my wound­ed side; I suffered, that thou mightest triumph; I died, that thou mightest live; was buried, that thou mightest rise; and made my self a scorn, of the People, that thou mightest reign in Heaven; and why wouldest thou throw away this Mercy? Why wouldest thou refuse this Treasure? What evil Spirit did possess thee to make light of these kindnesses? Why wouldest thou pollute that Soul which I redeemed with mine own Blood? [Page 66] Why wouldest thou make thy Heart a habitation of Devils, which I intended for my Throne? Why wouldest thou lose that which I purchased at so dear a rate? What pleasure couldest thou take in doing that which cost me so ma­ny Sighs and Tears, and a bloody Sweat? Why wouldest thou make a mock of so great a Mercy? How couldest thou un­dervalue a Favour of that importance and consequence? Can any Hell be thought too much for such Stubborn­ness? Either thou didst believe, that thy God did all this for thee, or thou didst not: If thou didst not believe it, why didst thou make confession of it with thy Mouth? If thou didst, how couldest thou be so ungrateful? How couldest thou abuse a Friendship of that worth and value? Thou lovest a Friend, a Neighbour, a Man, a Woman, for Kindnesses, which are meer Shadows, and Bubbles to my Love, and hadst not thou reason to love me beyond all earth­ly Comforts? Hadst not thou reason to prefer my Favour before the Smiles of a transitory World? How did I deserve [Page 67] such preposterous usages at thy hands? Couldest thou have dealt worse with a Slave, or with an Enemy, than thou hast done with me? Did this conde­scension deserve, dost thou think, such Affronts and Injuries, such Contempt and Disobedience, as thou hast returned to me? Therefore, as for those mine Enemies, which would not have this Man to reign over them, bring them hi­ther, and slay them before me.

All this appears in the Prospect of a future Judgment, and therefore there must be Vertue in it, to check that Mirth and Jollity, which infatuates Souls, and leads them into ruine.

4. In the Prospect of this future Judgment, there appears the unspeaka­ble anguish and misery of those who have been most jolly and merry in this Life. Dives, who cloath'd himself in Purple and fine Linnen, and fared sump­tuously every day, appears there qua­king, and trembling, and crying, Fa­ther Abraham, Have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my Tongue; [Page 68] his Tables, which were overlaid with Silver, his richer Beds, his Tapestry, his Ornaments, his Ointments, his Bal­sams, his Cordials, his delicate Wines, his various Dishes, his Cooks, his Flat­terers, his Parasites, his Retinue, his Servants, and all the Noise and Pomp that attended him, are not only extinct, and turned into Ashes, and Dust, and Dirt, but his naked Soul is dragg'd and carried before a tremendous Maje­sty, to endure intolerable torments; and before this terrible God [...]e appears with his Eyes cast down, blushing and ashamed, trembling and fearful, and all his former Comforts seem to have been but dreams to him.

See how the Scene is changed; he to whom the poor man formerly supplica­ted for relief, now is forced to supplicate to the poor Man to be relieved of him, & would be glad of Lazarus's Table, who once scorned to let Lazarus gather the Crumbs that fell from his; when La­zarus was near him, he slighted him; now he is afar off, he adores him, and himself now is the poor man, while La­zarus [Page 69] swims in Riches; such a discove­ry doth that last Day make, who are the Rich, and who are the Poor, who the Wise, and who the Fools.

In this Judgment Nimrod, Senacha­rib, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Ti­berius, Nero, Domitian, men who would be thought Gods, and denied themselves in no pleasure their Fancies craved, stand all ashamed and confounded, flames of a guilty Conscience burning in their Breasts, and forcing their voices into bitter lamentations; there Sarda­napalus, Croesus, Cambyses, Herod, and all the Mighty men, that spared no Wo­man in their Lust, and no Man in their Anger, appear all like guilty Malefa­ctors, their Hearts failing them for fear, and they cha [...]tering like a Crane, and mourning like a Dove, and bewailing their aiery, short and transitory satis­factions, and cursing the Hour and the Minute when the first Temptations courted them to those dangerous Em­braces; there Cleopatra, that sailed in a Vessel glistering with Gold, a Vessel fitted for Pride, and Luxury, and Mag­nificence, [Page 70] and tried how far Sensuality might be improved, and to what height brutish Pleasure might be advanced; there the wretched Woman is seen, not so much with Serpents clasping about her Breast, as with a Worm within, that dies not, tormenting her awakened Conscience with shapes of Death, and Images of Ruine, and all the Beasts, that here could not be satisfied with Pleasure, there cannot be eased of gnaw­ing Vultures and Agonies; for these the just God must at last inflict, to make them sensible that his Threatnings were no Fables, and to let them see, that the Advices of wise Men and Philoso­phers, who exhorted them to the study of Virtue, were grounded on rational Foundations.

These Tortures and Vexations must not expire till the Ancient of Days, who was affronted by their sins, doth die, and that's never, he being the same yesterday, to day▪ and for ever: Thus their sweet Meat must have sour Sauce, and if they will have their Pleasures, they must feel the Sting too, that's in­separably [Page 71] affix'd to them. The Bait cannot be swallowed without the Hook, and as pleasant as the Honey is, the Gall which is part of it, must be tasted too. God will not be always mocked, and they that durst in despight of his Will and Prohibitions, feed upon that luscious Fruit, shall feel the smart of the Prickles too.

In this Judgment their Postures, Ge­stures, and Behaviour and Deportment appear in another Figure, and they that before laught at the Thunders of the Law, made light of the Threatnings of the Gospel, and let the Warnings of the Ministers of the Gospel go in at one Ear, and out at another, now call themselves Fools and Sots for doing so; and they that before thought of no af­ter-reckoning, now fall a wishing, but in vain; O that I had been wise! O that I had bethought my self! O that I had looked beyond this World! O that I had believed! O that I had re­tired, and considered what these Satis­factions would end in! Fool that I was, to think that God would prove a Liar! [Page 72] Where was my Reason, to think, that all that the wisest and holiest Men have said, were but Dreams and idle Tales! I that might have been a terror to De­vils, how am I become their Scorn! I, that might have been a Favourite of God, how am I become his Enemy! I, that might have triumphed with other Saints, how am I fallen from their Bliss! O what would not I give to be rid of the torment I feel! Help, help, ye Souls that have any pity in you: I sink under the weight of my former pleasures; they are loathsom to me; they appear Monsters, Furies, hideous things to me! Cursed be that Lust I cherished! Cursed be that Bed on which my wickedness was wrought! O that my Tongue had dropt out of my Head when I pleased my self with las­civious discourses! O that I had been deaf when I was tickled with hearing a smutty jest! O that I had been struck blind, when with joy and satisfaction I beheld that charming Beauty! O that my Feet had failed me when I was go­ing into that jovial Company! O that [Page 73] I had locked my self up, that I might not have seen those Temptations which enticed me! O that I had spent those Hours I threw away in Carding and Dicing, and Drinking and Revelling! O that I had spent them in holy Con­templations of the Vanity of these sub­lunary Objects! Now I would do it, and it is too late; now I would repent, and it profits me not; now I would be serious, and it signifies nothing; my Time is lost; the Day of Grace is gone; the Opportunities are past: O that I could tear out this Heart! O that I could pull out these Eyes! O that I could dispatch my self! O that I had a Sword, that I might put a period to this miserable condition! I see nothing but Ruine before me, nothing but Dark­ness, nothing but Confusion, nothing but Horrors, and no Creature will help me to annihilate my self; I am not able to endure this Torture for a moment, how shall I be able to endure it to infinite Millions of Ages? I see no end of it; the farther I look, the more of my Misery I see: Where-ever [Page 74] I cast my Eyes, I see nothing but Terror Devils, and miserable Souls in the same condition with my self, all howling about my Ears: A thing so far from affording Comfort, that it fills me with greater Horror. Whither shall I [...]lee for remedy? Heaven is shut up; there is a vast Gulph betwixt me and that▪ there is no passing from hence thither▪ nor from thence to this doleful place▪ I swim in a Sea of Sorrow, I swim, and see no shoare; I labour, and not a Plank appears, on which I may save my Life; here are no Hills, no Mountains, no Rocks I can cry to; and if there were, they are all deaf; God hath forsaken me, and good reason; for I left him for a Lust, and undervalued him for Tri­fles: I pleaded, I could not withstand the Charms the World offered to me: Mad man! I could withstand them now, why could not I have withstood them then? I might have considered of this Place, and of this State, and of these▪ Vexations, and checked my self: O that I were but to live again in the World! O that God would but try [Page 75] me again! How would I scorn the very thoughts of Mirth and Raillery! How would I run away from the very mention of these Impostures! Break my Heart, break! If God will not kill thee, call upon the infernal Spirits, and see what they will do: But Oh, they delight in these groans! Them­selves lie under the same Condemnati­on, banish'd from the gracious Presence of God; They would die as well as I, if they were able: O what a Torment is i [...]! I see the everlasting Joys before me, and cannot reach them; they are over my Head, and I cannot come near them; Paradise I see, but cannot enter into it: I knock my Head, I smite my Breast, I stamp with my Feet, but am never the better. That Jesus, on whose Blood I trampled, I see rejoycing with his Followers at the Right Hand of God, and not a drop of Comfort drops from his Lips, on mine! I feel Flames with­in, which no Waters can quench; a drop of Water would be some refresh­ment, and give me some hopes of ease; but here is none: All the Rivers of [Page 76] Consolation are dried up to me; I walk in Darkness, I see no Light: O God, tear the Heavens, and come down! Canst thou hear these shrieks, and be unconcerned? Canst thou see this poor Creature lie in torments, and give no re­lief? Hast thou no Mercy left? O then my State is desperate! I shall not be able to refrain from Blasphemy; for I see none can help but thou, and thou wilt not; I rave, I am distracted with fear; I tremble, I quake; Stand off Devils! I have Furies enough within: Ye damned Pleasures, whither have you brought me? Ye have made me lose the Favour of him who alone is able to give me ease! I might have been hap­py, if it had not been for you; I might have escaped these Regions of Anguish, if you had not tempted me: But why do I accuse you? This brutish Heart of mine was in the fault, my Devilish Lust hurried me into Ruine; I had Rea­son, and would not use it; Means of Grace, and would not apply them; Of­fers of Mercy, and would not accept of them, O all ye that pass by, behold and [Page 77] see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, where with the Lord hath afflicted me, in the day of his fierce anger; from above he hath sent a Fire into my Lam. 1. 12, 13, 14. Bones, and it prevails against them; he hath spread a Net for my feet, he hath turned me back, he hath made me desolate, and faint all the day; the Yoak of my Transgressions is bound by his hand, they are wreathed, and come up upon my Neck, he hath made my strength to fall, the Lord hath deliver'd me into their hands from whom I am not able to rise up.

All this certainly appears in the Pro­spect of that future Judgment, and con­sequently is enough to check and damp the greatest Jollities on this side Hell; and though it's true, that it doth not cause the least disturbance in thousands of Men, that drink of these stollen wa­ters; for men in this Age are as jovial as ever, and a Judgment to come frights them no more than an House on fire a Thousand Miles off; but sure this is for want of taking the proper way and me­thod, [Page 78] which God and Reason doth pre­scribe; and what that way and method is, shall be shewn in the following Pa­ragraph.

3. How the Prospect of that future Judgment must be managed, that it may actually damp and put a stop to these carnal Delights.

This is to be done no other way, but,

1. By thinking, reflecting and rumi­nating upon that future Judgment. This stands to Reason; for except things be made visible to us, how shall they move or fright us? This future Judgment being out of sight, and afar off, it must be brought near, and set before us; and there is no way to do it but by thinking. Our Thoughts are the Picture-drawers, which make the Land-skip of that Judg­ment so lively, that our Faculties cannot but be signally affected with it. These are the Divine Part within us, which can make things past and future, as pre­sent, and summon the remotest Objects to become familiar and palpable. These [Page 79] are the Glasses in which all that God hath said, or promised, or threatned, becomes visible, and with the help of these we may make that Substance, which seemed but Air before, and con­dense that into solid Notions, which to a carnal Man seemed but Fancy and Wind before. These can make us in a manner grasp and feel that which was out of our reach before, and make us concern'd about things which we nei­ther see, nor hear, nor feel with our grosser Organs. These can transplant the other World into this, and make Eternity appear before us, though we live in Tabernacles of Clay: To prove this, we need only appeal to Experi­ence. Behold those pious Souls, that take a course contrary to that of the World; What makes them afraid of sinning? What makes them afraid of running with their Neighbors into Riot? What makes them that they dare not do what some of their Carnal Ac­quaintance and Relations do? What makes them mourn? What makes them rejoyce in Spirit? You see nothing that [Page 80] have reason to mourn for: They have a competency, they want nothing in the World, they have Necessaries and Conveniencies, and they prosper in their lawful Undertakings; and under some of their greatest Afflictions, you see nothing that should make them chearful, no outward cause of their Joy, but rather all that is about them is an invitation to sorrow and dejecti­on: Why? They are invisible things, that make them mourn and rejoyce, and by thinking of them, they make them visible, and so visible, that they are af­fected with them as much as other men are with Objects that incur into their Senses; by thinking they see the Ter­rors of the Lord, and the Affronts they have offered to the Divine Majesty, and the Wounds they have given to their own Souls, and that makes them weep; by thinking they see the Glory that is set before them, and the recompence which is promised them, and the Right and Title they have to it, and that makes their Soul rejoyce: So then, by think­ing this future Judgment may be seen [Page 81] and if it be seen in any lively colours, there is no Sinner so stout, no Man so perverse, no Creature so dull and stu­pid, but it will startle him, and put Wormwood into his Cup. When I eat, or drink, or whatever I do, the last Trump sounds in mine Ears, and I think I hear the terrible Voice of the Arch. Angel, Arise ye dead, and come to Judgment, saith St. Hierom: These Thoughts made him eat and drink with great moderation: These brought a holy Fear upon him in all his Actions: These kept him from going beyond the Bounds God had set him: These struck Seriousness into him in all places: These made him as circumspect in the Market-place, as if he had been at Church, and as devout in the Street, as if he had stood at the High Altar. And therefore I do not wonder at that Hermit, that he became so serious a Man as Antiquity reports him, who carried a little Book about him, consisting only of four Leaves, in which he was always seen reading, and after reading, meditating; in the first Leaf was expressed Christ's Passion, and [Page 82] what that Darling of Mankind suffered for poor Mortals, during his abode in the World; in the second, was represented the Process of the future Judgment, with the Terrors and Consternations that guilty men will be in at that time; in the third, were described the Glories of Paradise, and of that third Hea­ven which all holy Souls shall enter in­to, there to possess the Inheritance of the Saints in light; in the fourth, was drawn to the life the Picture of Hell, and of the Miseries which shall await the stubborn and impenitent in the next life; These four Leaves were soon read over, but they afforded infinite Matter for Thoughts and Meditations; and by these his Soul was so warmed, that he cared not what became of him here, so he might but enjoy the promised Glory, and that Life and Immortality Christ had brought to light by the Gospel.

So true is that Saying of St. Chryso­siom; There is no Man that thinks much ofChrysost. Hom 2. in 2 Thessalon. Hell, that will ever fall into it; as indeed [Page 83] there is no Man who makes light of it, that will ever escape it. For as it is a­mong men, they that are afraid of the Penalties of the Law, seldom or never feel them; for their Fear makes them shun those Actions which deserve them: This keeps them from Theft and Ra­pine, from Murder and Adultery, from Burglary and Wrong, from Violence and Oppression, and consequently from the punishments the Law inflicts in such Cases. The Plagues and the Stripes they fear, make them cautious, and whatever their inclination may be, the Rods and Axes they fear, restrain them; whereas those that are regardless of the Mulct, bring it upon themselves; so it is here, the frequent thinking of it, is the best Antidote against the Terrors of that future Judgment: If the Ni­nivites had not feared their overthrow, they had certainly been overthrown; and how could they have feared it, if they had not thought of it? If the men that lived before the Flood, had thought of it, and been afraid, they would not have been drowned; nor [Page 84] would the People of Sodom have been consumed by Fire, if they had taken this course: It's a great Misfortune not to think of the fulfilling of Gods Threatnings; for he that thinks not of it, of all men, will be the first that shall have woful experience of it.

It is reported of Agatho, That in his last Sickness, falling into a Trance for three days together, he lay with his Eyes fixed upon Heaven, and all that time look'd very ghastly; recovering out of the Extasie, and being asked by his Friends, where he had been, and what his Thoughts had been during those three days, and what made him look so strangely? O my Friends, said he, Do you ask me where I have been? Alas! I have been these three days standing before the great Tribunal, and seen how the most just Judge sentenced divers Souls to Eternal Darkness; and who would not stand amazed at the dreadful Spectacle?

It was therefore a very good Prayer of St. Ambrose: I do most vehemently desire, O Lord, that thou wouldest be pleas­ed [Page 85] to imprint, and very deeply imprint the Land skip of the future World, the Mise­ries of the Disobedient, the Groans of the Stubborn, the Agonies of the Impenitent, the Shrieks of the Prophane, the Vexati­ons of Hypocrites, the Fears of the Care­less, the Destruction of the Covetous, the Perdition of Worldlings, the Flames of the Revengeful, the Terror of Damnati­on, and Eternal Torments, and the future Felicity of thy Kingdom, upon my Mind; for it is impossible that he that thinks much of these things, should not become thy Child and Servant, and one of those whom thou host predestinated to Eternal Life.

Dost thou laugh, said the Old Man in Ruffinus, to a Youngster (whose Beha­viour was very light) when you and I are to be judged before Heaven and Earth? And indeed that Person that sur­veys what the Divine Jesus hath said of this future Judgment, thinks how in that Day the Powers of Heaven will be shaken, the Sun turned into Dark­ness, the Moon into Blood, and the Stars forbear to give their Light, how the World, and all the Elements will [Page 86] be on Fire, the Universe melt like Wax, the Earth be burnt up, the Seas dried, and the Rivers consumed, and with what Glory and Bravery the once affli­cted Son of God will then appear, with an Army of Angels about him, display­ing their Banners, and carrying the Sign of the Son of Man before him; how before him all Nations will be assem­bled, and all that are in their graves, upon hearing the Voice of God, loud as Thunder, and more dreadful too, will be summoned to appear before his Bar, the Judge shining in his Meridian-glo­ry, brighter than Moses, clearer than the Sun, and how the Consciences of guilty men will quake at this sight, their Hearts misgiving them, that their Por­tion will be in outward Darkness, how formidable all the Transactions will be, how immutable the Sentence, after it is once passed, not to be altered, or depre­cated by Saints or Angels, how all Eva­sions & Subterfuges will be out of doors there, and all possibility of transferring our Errors upon others who have been Partners with us in our Sins, will va­nish, [Page 87] how those that make themselves Fools for Christ's sake in this Life, were reproached, reviled, derided, and laugh­ed at for their Severities, would not lose their Souls for a Trifle, nor sell their Birthright to Eternal Bliss for a Morsel of Meat, would hold fast their integrity, though solicited by innumerable Losses and Crosses, and by their nearest Rela­tions to curse God and die; how these who were here made the off-scourings of all things, will then be absolved and quitted, and have Seats appointed them in the Mansions of Glory, there to reign, and sing the Goodness of God to all E­ternity. I say, he that seriously surveys these things, if he be a Person who hath not debauch'd or lost his Reason, cannot but be affected by passages of this Nature, and think it time to curb him­self in his sensual Delights and Satisfa­ctions. But,

2. Bare thinking is not enough, but the Particulars of this future Judgment must be actually applied to our selves; General things, and what is done to others, though they may touch the [Page 88] Heart, yet do not subdue it till particu­lar applications give them force and power. A Fire, that is a Mile off from me, though it causes in me some sense of the Calamity, yet if it threatens the House I live in, my Faculties soon bestir themselves, and I fall to work, and se­cure my self in good earnest; so here, when I behold the tremendous Process of this Judgment, I must reflect, that as God deals with others, so he will certainly deal with me; that I have no greater privilege than others, but must stand and fall by the same Law that they stand and fall by; that to fan­cy any more favourable proceedings to­wards me, than God intends to others, is but a Dream, and contrary to the im­partiality of the Judge; that as I have a Soul to be saved as well as my Neigh­bour; so God will expect I should live here, as he bids my Neighbour live, that neither my Estate, nor Digni­ty, neither my Offices, nor Friends, neither my Riches, nor my Great­ness, will excuse my living more carelesly than my poorer Friends; nay, [Page 89] that my outward Advantages make my Account greater; and as I have had greater Talents bestowed upon me, so more will be required of me than of them who have not had those opportu­nities of being good and holy, which I have had; that as God hath advanced me in the World, placed me in a high­er station, given me a considerable fi­gure here on Earth, made his Candle to shine upon me, caused my Root to spread by the Waters, and the Dew of Heaven to lie all night upon my Branch, and afforded me Credit and Respect a­mong men, so he looks for greater Fruit­fulness in good Works, and more than ordinary exemplariness to advance his Glory, and to spread the Power of Re­ligion among my Inferiors and Depen­dants; and therefore upon a view of this future Process, I must needs rouze my Soul by such Questions as these;

If God be resolved to judge the Se­crets of mens hearts according to his Go­spel, what will become of me? Should God call thee to Judgment, O my [Page 90] Soul, this Night, or this Hour, art thou in a condition to appeat before so great, so dreadful a God? Is this Foolery thou pleasest thy self with, this wanton Dress, this jolly Life, these merry Hours, this Gaming, this Carousing, this extrava­gant Laughter, this Fondness of the Hu­mor of the Age, this immodest and fro­thy Talk, this foolish Garb, this phan­tastick Fashion, this mispending thy Time, this keeping of vain Company, this unprofitable way of Living, this thy being intent altogether upon the Profits and Pleasures of the World, this Indif­ferency in Religion, these faint Resist­ances of Temptations, this Neglect of known Duties, this unfaithful Discharge of the Duties of thy Relations, this un­willingness to mind any thing that's se­rious, this Aversion from Spiritual Dis­courses and Actions, this want of Gra­vity, &c. Are these fit Wedding-Gar­ments to come before the King of Hea­ven in? Thou maist be summon'd to come to his Bar within this day or two; think what an infinite Majesty thou must be presented to: Should God speak the [Page 91] word within a few Minutes, Come away, come away, and give an Account of thy Behaviour; how unprepared art thou? So great is thy danger, and canst thou loiter? So near art thou to a tremen­dous Eternity, and Oh wilt not thou be clean? Thou standest upon the brink of Hell, and wilt not thou step back? Thou art within a Bows-shot of the great Tribunal, and doth not thy coun­tenance change? Thou art within hearing of the Thunders, that come forth from the Throne of God, and do not thy thoughts trouble thee? Thou seest the fatal Hand upon the Wall, and do not thy Knees smite one against ano­ther? Thou must shortly appear be­fore all the Host of Heaven, and art not thou got farther yet in Holiness? Dost not thou quake to think, that the Re­venger of Blood is upon thy Heels?

As thou art a Christian, thou art a Son of God, and dost thou express that filial disposition in thy Gate, and Looks, and Face, and Life? Art thou born of God, and canst thou degenerate from his Nature? Art thou made after his [Page 92] Image, and by Grace renew'd after his Similitude, and canst thou be contented under a temper so different from that Holiness, which is thy great Father's Perfection and Glory? Does God ex­pect thee at his Tribunal with the Qua­lifications of a Child, and wilt thou appear before him as a Rebel? Hath he given his Son on purpose to adopt thee, and thinkest thou to present thy self before him in the shape of a Prodi­gal? Thou art designed for a Citizen of the Celestial Jerusalem, and wilt thou appear before him as an Inhabitant of Hell? Thou art one of God's Family, and wilt thou appear before him as a Traytor? Thou art purchased by his Blood, and wilt thou live as if that Blood had been spilt in vain? Thou art wash'd in the Laver of Regenerati­on, and canst thou wallow with the Swine in the Mire? Thou hast known the Way of Righteousness, and wilt thou with the Dog return to the Vomit? Or art thou not afraid of that Saying, that DogsRev. 22. 15. must stand without?

[Page 93]Thou art called to be faithful, and hast given thy Faith to God; Wilt thou break thy Faith, and hope to be guilt­less at this Bar? Will not God revenge this Breach, or canst thou think he will let thee go unpunish'd for thy Treache­ries? How canst thou expect the per­formance of his Promises, while thou art so false to thy Engagements? Thou hast vow'd thy self to him both in Bap­tism and the Supper of the Lord, and canst thou imagine, that thy Perjuries will not be remembred when thou com­est to look the Judge in the Face? By giving thee opportunity of becoming a Christian, God hath made thee a King, and wilt thou run to the Bramble, and say, Come thou and reign over me? As a King, thou hast power given thee to vanquish Flesh and Blood, to tread upon Lions and Adders, to defie Princi­palities and Powers, and to crush De­vils, and wilt thou make thy self a slave to those Enemies, over which God hath given thee power to trample them un­der thy Feet? As a King thou art to appear before him, and wilt thou come [Page 94] in the posture of a miserable Vassal? Shall those Passions rule over thee which thy God hath given thee for Servants and Handmaids? And what a dismal sight will it be, when thou art to come before the Throne laden with conquests, to appear fettered with Chains and the Devils Trophies? God designs thee to be his Priest; This is one of the Privi­ledges that came by the Blood of Christ▪ But where are thy Sacrifices? The Sa­crifice of fervent Prayer, the Sacrifice of an humble and contrite heart, the Sacrifice of Praise, and Delight in God And wilt thou come without the Mar [...] of thy Office before the great Shepherd and Bishop of Souls? Thou art en­lightned by the Spirit of God, and do [...] thou think to live in Darkness, and af­ter all to share in the boundless Inheri­tance with the Children of Light How unlike thy self wilt thou appea [...] before God, if thou come without these Qualifications? Thou art a Christian but where is the Life of Christ tha [...] should be in thee? Will the Judg [...] ever take thee for his Sheep, when it' [...] [Page 95] evident, thou dost not hear his Voice? How ridiculous is that Man that hangs out a Bush, and yet hath no Wine to sell? And how foolish is that Apothe­cary that writes glorious Names upon his Pots, when the rich Drugs that are named, have no being in his Shop? And will it not tend to thy everlasting confusion that thou hast had the Name of a Christian, and done nothing like a Christian?

Thus the particular Proceedings of that future Judgment must be applied to our selves, if we resolve that the Prospect of a future Judgment shall damp our carnal Delights and Satisfacti­ons, and without using this Method, we do but trifle, and talk of breeding Mountains, and bring forth ridiculous Mice; play with Religion, and are not in good earnest, when we say, we be­lieve a future Account.

3. But neither the Reflections afore­said, nor the Application we have spo­ken of, will make any deep impression, except all be seconded with earnest Prayer, that God by his holy Spirit [Page 96] working in our Minds, would make the Attempt effectual; this must set to the Seal, drive in the Nail, and clench it. The Eternal Spirit must give Suc­cess to these Enterprizes, and in vain do we plant or water, except he gives the increase. He is that anointing, which must supple the Soul, and crown all with Laurels and Victory. By strength of Thought, and Application, the Fort of Sin may be assaulted; but without this Spirit lends his helping hand, it will never be taken or subdued. His Power must overcome the Opposi­tions our Flesh and the World will cer­tainly make in this case, and if he blows upon our Hearts, the strong Holds of Iniquity, like the Walls of Jericho, will fall, and nothing can stand before him, and he will certainly come in to our as­sistance, if our Prayer and Addresses be fervent and importunate. Upon such Devotions, the frequent Discourses of this Day of Judgment, we read or hear, will be so far from bringing the thing into contempt with our Souls, that our Hearts will be awakened more, and it's [Page 97] impossible, we can miscarry in the pi­ous Design, if with strong cries we apply our selves to him, who hath appoint­ed a Day, in the which he will judge the World in Righteousness, by that Man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance unto all Men, in that he hath raised him from the dead, Acts 17. 31.

That which we are chiefly to insist upon in these Addresses, is, that we may get lively Apprehensions of that Day, and such Apprehensions, as no Pleasure, no Folly, no Temptation of the World may darken or destroy; And here let the Soul break forth into such Ejaculati­ons:

O God, great and glorious, make me deeply sensible of that Day, and of that Hour, when the Son of Man will come, when the Goats shall be separa­ted from the Sheep, the Tares from the Wheat, the Good from the Bad; when neither Prayers nor Tears shall be able to deliver the guilty and polluted Soul from the impendent danger; when it shall be said to the humble, Friend, sit [Page 98] up higher; and to the proud Fool, Give place to him that is more honourable than thou art; when the Book of Consci­ence shall be opened, and the Dead judged by the Contents of that Book; when the Sinner will not know where to flee, and his Spirits will fail him, for fear of him that sitteth upon the Throne.

O God! Fix these Considerations in my Soul; strengthen my Faith, that I may believe these things unseen, with­out wavering. How apt is the World to get between this tremendous Day, and my sight? Quicken thou mine Eyes, that I may see through all im­pediments into that Process, and re­flect, what manner of Person I ought to be in all holy conversation and god­liness. Lord Jesu! great Judge of the World! let the Lines of that Judg­ment be written so legibly in my mind, that my Soul may delight to read them, that nothing may divert me from stu­dying and considering them; let this be my chief study, and let me feel the fame effect, that those men did, who [Page 99] were converted at thy Apostles Ser­mon; let me be prickt at the Heart, and cry out, What must I do to be sa­ved? Let the thoughts of this Day make a Reformation in my outward and inward Man, that it may appear, that thou hast touch'd me with a Coal from the Altar. O God, to whom Vengeance belongs, shew thy self, and disperse my foolish Desires. Let my Soul feel the Transactions of that Day as well as believe them. Clear my Understanding, and enlighten my Mind, that I may have a livelier Pro­spect of it. I will not let thee go ex­cept thou bless me: Look down from the Habitation of thy Holiness, and visit my Soul. Expel the Prejudices I have against Severity of Life, and with the Thoughts of this Day destroy them utterly. Let the consideration of this Day so work upon me, that my Am­bition, Covetousness, Pride, and An­ger may tremble at this sight, and leave their habitation, and may be ever a­fraid of returning. Oh tell me, that this Day will certainly come, and that [Page 100] the Day of my Death will be the Em­blem of it. Oh assure me of the Ter­ror of that Day, that shall burn like an Oven, wherein all that do wicked­ly shall be Stubble, and the Fire shall burn them up, that it shall leave them neither Root nor Branch; let me not take example by the careless World, that put this evil Day far from them. Let it be always before me: Let my Mind be never free from the Contem­plations of it. Let it mingle with my Business, with my Meals, with my Converse, with my Sleep, and with all my Undertakings. In every Sin I am tempted to, let it frighten me in my going out and in my coming in, let it continually beat upon my Mind. Oh my Lord! let me muse upon this Day of Retribution, this Day of Recom­pence, this Day of Trouble, this Day of Terror, this Day of Joy, this Day of Comfort, this Day wherein thy Promises and Threatnings will be ful­filled, this Day which must decide the controversie of my Life and Death, this Day which will bring to light all [Page 101] hidden things, this Day which will revive the good, and confound the bad; this Day of Consolation, this Day of Consternation, let me ruminate upon it, till thoughts of this Judgment pre­vail with me to become a new Crea­ture; thy Grace must melt my stub­born Heart; without thee I can do nothing. O relieve me! O come in with the Light of thy Countenance! Stir up my Soul, and rouze it from its carelesness! Call to me as thou didst to thy People of old: let that voice sound in my ears, The great Day of the Zeph. 1. 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the Voyce of the Day of the Lord; the mighty Man shall cry bitterly; that Day is a Day of Wrath, a Day of Trouble and Distress, a Day of Wastness and Desolation, a Day of Darkness and Gloominess, a Day of Clouds, and thick Darkness, a Day of the Trumpet, and Alarm against the fenced Cities, and against the high Tow­ers, and I will bring Distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind Men, be­ [Page 102] cause they have sinned against the Lord, and their Blood shall be poured out as Dust, and their Flesh as the Dung; nei­ther their Silver nor their Gold shall be able to deliver them in the Day of the Lord's Wrath.

O let me not lose the sense of this Day! Oh let me consider, how much better it is to be humble and contemp­tible, and to hunger and thirst, and to suffer here, and afterwards to enter in­to my great Masters Joy, than to be a Slave to my Lusts and Pleasures here, and to be bound at last with everlasting Chains of Darkness, Chains which never wear out, Chains which always bind, are always grievous, always painful: Oh let me consider, how much better it is to mourn here, and to water my Couch with my Tears, and to afflict my Soul, and after this, to triumph with the Spirits of Men made perfect, than to feed upon Plea­sures, which at the best, are but like the crackling of Thorns under a Pot, and then to be sent away to howl with Devils: Help Lord, help, that my [Page 103] Soul may be concern'd at her danger, and despise the World, and prepare against that Day, and encounter with Powers, and Principalities, and Spiri­tual Wickednesses in high Places; if by any means I might attain unto the Resurrection of the Dead.

Such Prayers offered from a Heart, that hath no Reserves; from a Heart, resolved to do any thing rather than miss of Salvation; such Prayers, I say, if they express the very desires of our Souls, will certainly put Death and Paleness into our sensual Pleasures, and oblige us to entertain other Thoughts of the gauds and gaieties of the world, than now we have, and make us sensi­ble, that this casting such a damp on the foolish fatisfactions of the flesh with the Prospect of that Day, is not only a Task fit for Hermits, and Melancholick Scholars, and contemplative Men, but a Duty incumbent on all that carry im­mortal Souls in their Breasts, which calls me to the Fourth Point.

4. Whether every Man is bound to embitter his carnal Delights with this Prospect?

[Page 104]To this I must answer in the Affir­mative: For though the young Man be particularly mentioned here, yet since the expression in the Text reaches all men who are fit for action, all such must necessarily fall under the obligation of this Duty, and all that are capable of such Delights, are bound to make use of the aforesaid consideration, in order to this self-denial; if the young Man is obliged to this seriousness, much more older Men; if God will not allow of these Delights in Youth, they must ne­cessarily be intolerable in Years of great­er Maturity; and if the tender Age be concerned to embitter them with this Prospect, when it meets with any temptation to them; without all Perad­venture the stronger cannot be excused. And the Reasons are these following:

1. If they be not embitter'd with such Thoughts as these, they will infallibly lead the Soul into innumerable dangers; and there is no man but is obliged to preserve his Soul from danger. It is said of the Prodigal, Luke 15. 13. That he took his Journey into a far Countrey; these [Page 105] sensual Pleasures alienated his Soul from God, drove it away from him, made him travel as far as Hell; the Truth is, the Soul is lost in such sensual Pleasures, they wear out the bright Notions the Soul had of God and Religion; as it is said of the Sicilian Dogs, that running through the sweet and flowery Fields, they lose their Sent in hunting; so the Soul, where these Pleasures, these white Devils become her Familiars, loses the noble Apprehensions it once had of Gods Omniscience and Omnipresence, of his Holiness and Goodness, and of the truth of his Promises and Threatnings; and these Characters, like Letters written with bad Ink, vanish, and consequent­ly the Life of the Soul; for which rea­son the Prodigal, who drowned him­self in these delights, is said to be dead, v. 32. These choak the good Seed that's sown in the noble ground; and as you have seen a Field of Wheat, where the red Poppies spring up as fast as the rich­er grain, though the proud Flowers are pleasing to the Eye, yet they retard and hinder the growth of the more use­ful [Page 106] Blade, and suck away the Moisture that should have fed the other; so sen­sual Delights, where they are taken in as Partners, and suffered to grow in the Soul, in which some Fruits of the Spi­rit do appear, in a short time blast those excellent Fruits, the Effects of the Ho­ly Ghost, or Education, or the Ministry of the Word, and prove Bryars and Thorns, which will not fuffer any of the better Corn to grow under them.

Mans Soul and Body are like two Buckets, while the one comes up full, the other goes down empty: Carnal Delights advance the brutish or fleshly part, make it grow strong, lusty and vi­gorous, whereby it wrests the Scepter out of the hand of Reason, and the Soul loses her Strength, and Power, and Sa­gacity in Spiritual things, grows weak and faint, and at last expires and dies; I mean the vertuous Principles, which either kind Nature, or kinder Grace, or Afflictions, or some other Means and Instruments have incorporated with the Soul, which indeed are the Life of that excellent Creature; and the Soul being [Page 107] thus dead, it falls a Prey to Devils, who rejoyce over so great a Prey, and lead it in Triumph, take it Prisoner, and make it draw in their Victorious Cha­riot; and now all the Curses of the Law are in force against it, the Threat­nings of the Gospel become her portion, and there is nothing left to stand be­twixt her and eternal grief and anguish, but the slender Thred of this Mortal Life; which, if it chance to break or tear, the Soul sinks irrecoverably into the Gulph of Perdition, from whence there is no returning; so fatal is the in­fluence of these flattering guests, which in time starve their Keeper, and finding the House empty, swept and garnished, like the Evil Spirit spoken of, Matth. 12. 45. go and take with them seven other Spirits more wicked than themselves, and they enter in, and dwell there, and the last state of that Man is worse than the first; and thus they plunder, and boldly rob the Soul of her Riches, and hinder her from that Holiness which is her Food, her Cordial, and her greatest Support, and without which no Man [Page 108] can see the Lord; they had need there­fore be embittered with something that's sour and unpleasant to Flesh and Blood, can smite the Stream, and turn those sweeter Waters into Blood, which no­thing will do more effectually than the aforesaid Prospect.

2. This embittering of sensual and carnal Delights is a thing of the great­est concernment, and therefore must be necessary, and all must be concerned in the vertuous Enterprize; the greatest Blessings (the want of which make a Man perfectly miserable) depend upon it, even God's Love of Complacency, and the Application of Christ's Merits, and the Benefits of his Death and Passi­on; these belong not to the Soul, that is enamoured with sensual delights, no more than they appertain to Dogs or Swine; nay, they are useless and insig­nificant to such a Soul, as much as the Mathematicks are to an Ass or Ideot. There is a perfect Antipathy betwixt these and the Comforts we speak of; for they are intended only for humble, bro­ken, contrite hearts, which temper a [Page 109] Person that's fond of sensual delights; is not capable of, nor can such a Man relish them, they are as Hay, and Straw, and Stubble to him, and like a Person, whose Appetite hath been spoiled by a raging Fever, he looks upon them as unsavoury and insipid food, and though he may talk of them, yet it is only as blind men do of Colours. As it is in Nature, the Meat we eat must be agree­able to our Stomachs, so it is in Grace. There must be a holy Principle within, that makes these Spiritual Comforts a­greeable to it; but sensual Delights de­stroy that Principle, and as Darkness drives out Light, so these two are in­compatible; and indeed our Blessed Sa­viour is very peremptory in his Asserti­on, That he who doth not deny him­self, cannot be his Disciple, Matth. 16. 24. And what Self-denial can there be, where we do not deny our selves in that which is most pernicious to our better part? For so are these sensual Delights: Not to be Christ's Disciple, is to have no part in him: Not to have any part in him, is to be none of his [Page 110] Sheep; and not to be of his Sheep, i [...] to be placed with the Goats at the lef [...] hand in the last Day; and what the consequence of that is, you may read, Matth. 25. 41.

It's true, maugre all that we can say to the contrary, men who are resolved to indulge themselves in their brutish Delights, will, notwithstanding the con­tradiction they must needs be guilty of, believe that they are Christ's Disciples, and Favourites of Heaven, and that Christ hath purchased Eternal Life for them, and that at last they shall enjoy it; but alas! they know not what E­ternal Life, nor what Believing means; as well may a man in Bedlam fancy him self to be a King, as such Persons, that they are the Beloved of God, while they live in that which is most contrary to his Nature, and like Enemies to the Cross of Christ, like Persons that have nothing but Body, nothing but Flesh▪ nothing but Sense about them. If men may be saved contrary to Christs Word, contrary to his Declaration, contrary to all the most solemn Protestations he hath [Page 111] made in the Gospel, then such men may be saved, not else; who can reflect up­on these doings without indignation, or grief, or sorrow, or wishing for rivers of tears? That men should pretend to own the Gospel, and yet live directly con­trary to the Laws of it, argues either Ma­lice, or Distraction, or stupid Ignorance; yet with such men for the most part we have to deal; which makes S. Paul's Ex­hortation highly reasonable, Finally, Brethren, pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may have free course, and be glo­rified, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for all men have not Faith, 2 Thes. 3. 1, 2.

3. This embittering our carnal and sensual Delights, is that which men for certain shall wish they had done, when they come to stand before the great Tri­bunal. In that Day mens Eyes will be opened, and things will appear to them in other Colours than now they do. Their Understandings will not be clogg'd with this World, or Divertise­ments. They will have other Appre­hensions of the Nature of Vertue and [Page 112] Holiness, and the Truth of what Christ hath delivered in the Gospel: The Rea­sonableness of his Precepts, the Equity of his Commands, the Excellency of his Doctrine, the Divinity of his Mira­cles, the infallible Certainty of his Pro­mises and Threatnings will all shine bright in their Eyes; of all these they will be throughly convinced, and no doubt, no scruple, no ambiguity will remain as to any of these Points; the vileness of their Pleasures, the brutish­ness of their Satisfactions, the rashness of their Delights, the baseness of their Enjoyments, the brightness of those Vertues they have despised, the glory of that Grace which they might have had, and would not, and the trivialness of the things they preferr'd before these, will then appear so plain, so legi­ble, that there will be no room left for Ignorance.

It's true, these things might be known here, and would men take the right way, they might come to be convinced and perswaded of them on this side Eternity; for some we find are fully sa­tisfied [Page 113] as to these Particulars, and walk sutably to them, and therefore it can­not be impossible for others to attain to it; but their insensibleness is rather an Argument of stupid negligence, and wilful laziness; and so it must be, where People are not, or pretend not to be sa­tisfied in things of this Nature. It is therefore necessary there should a time come, when they shall be able to make no excuse, nor to evade the force of these Truths, and when they shall be­hold how wise a choice the self-denying Soul hath made, and what her mortifi­cations, and severities do end in, what applauses they receive in Heaven, what kind looks from the Everlasting Father, what Honour, what Dignity, what pre­ferment is designed and appointed for her, how such a Soul Triumphs at this time over Hell, and Devils, dares all the Furies of the Burning-lake, scorns those foes which led the sensual sinner cap­tive, makes her Nest among the Stars of Heaven, is placed in the Quire of Angels, meets with all the Caresses of a gracious God, is encirled with Laurels, [Page 114] and Crowns of Joy, and all her Mise­ry, and Sorrows, and Fears are at an end. Reason tells us that the sensual Sinner, when he shall behold all this, will wish, he had follow'd her example, for that's the necessary and eternal con­sequence of all imprudent Actions, especially thoseProv. 5. 11, 12. that are grosly so; for af­terward men do as naturally wish, that they had acted the part of wise men, as Balaam, that he might die the Death of the Righteous. Thus men become wise after the Fact, and when they find what fools they have been, would be content that they had foreseen the evil, and hid themselves: Who would not wish in that day he had embittered his sensual delights, that finds he is undone by eat­ing of those luscious Apples? And I need not tell you, that it is every Man's Interest not to do that which he will wish he had not done, when it is too late. But of this I have said enough before. The next Point follows, and is a Case of Conscience, how far sen­sual Delights must be embittered with this Prospect.

[Page 115]5. Whether a Christian that would be saved, is upon this account obliged to forbear and abandon all sensual and worldly delights and recreations what­soever?

So not a few have thought in the Pri­mitive times which made them retire from the World, and deny themselves in all the Comforts of this Life, and put themselves to very great hardships and self-denials, being of opinion, that they who laughed here, would mourn here­after, and such as enjoyed the good things of this Life, would be miserably poor hereafter. They looked upon the two Worlds as opposites, and conse­quently believed, that the Means to ar­rive to the happiness of the future, were directly contrary to all present satisfa­ctions; they concluded, that they who would be happy hereafter, must be un­happy here; and that they who would be happy here, could not be so hereaf­ter; from hence rose their selling all they had, and giving it to the poor, and the strange severities they used up­on their Bodies, whereof I have dis­coursed [Page 116] elsewhere; and indeed the Gospel givesHappy Asectic, p. 425. & Seq. very little encouragement to any thing that savours of worldly pleasure, nor do the Apostles allow much liberty in this particular; whether it were that they thought that all sensual delights were improper for a state of persecution, in which the Church then lived, or whether it was, that they were afraid such delights would damp their spiritual Fervour; this is certain, that there is little to be gathered from their Writings in favour of Sports and Recreations.

Yet as strict as the Gospel is, it grants that we have Bodies as well as Souls, and that if the Bow be not unbent sometimes, the String will crack and become use­less; and though its possible for our Minds to soar so far above the World, as to know and care for no other de­lights but what savour of God and the glories of another Life; yet those spiri­tual delights will not be of any long continuance, without the Body be al­lowed sutable refreshment, and hath its [Page 117] intervals of ease and relaxation. Were not some Divertisements lawful, Christ would scarce have vouchsafed his Pre­sence at the Wedding-Feast in Cana, much less provided them Wine to en­courage temperate chearfulness; and hither may be referred St. John the E­vangelist's playing sometimes with a Bird, and going into a common Bath, whereof Ecclesiastical Histories give us an Account; yet since there is nothing more common with men, than to con­found their sinful Delights with lawful Recreations, it will be necessary here, to explain the Point in these following Porticulars:

1. This must be laid down as a grand Principle of our Religion, That a Spiri­tual delight in God, in a Cruci­fied Saviour, and in the Bles­sedPhil. 4. 4. Effects and Influences of the Holy Ghost, in the Graces and Fruits of the Spirit, in feeling the Operations of the Divine Power and Glory upon our Souls, in the precious Promises of of the Gospel, in the Revelations, God hath vouchsafed to Mankind, in the [Page 118] Good we see wrought in our selves and others, in the Providences of God, and in Contemplation of his various deal­ings with the several States, Orders and Degrees of Men, in Psalms, and Hymns, and Praises of the Divine Majesty, in the thoughts and expectations of a bet­ter Life, in the Treasures God hath laid up for them that fear him, in another World, and in the various Priviledges, Prerogatives and Advantages of Holy Men, &c. It is certain, I say, that de­lighting and rejoycing in such Spiritual Objects, is the chief, the principal and sovereign delight which a Christian is with greatest application of Mind to la­bour after, and in comparison of this, is obliged to count all these outward Comforts Dross, and Dung, and Dogs▪ meat; this is the delight which must engross his Desires, Affections and In­clinations; this must rule in his Soul, this must be Mistress and Queen Regent in his Mind; to this all must stoop, and then things cannot but go well, if this be secured and established. Without worldly Pleasure, Thousands of Saints [Page 119] have arrived to everlasting Bliss, but without this none; Sensual Delights are no part of a Christians Comfort; but this Spiritual Delight is the one thing necessary; and till a prospect of a fu­ture Judgment causes this Delight to rise in our Souls, whatever sudden impression it may make sometime, the Plant is not of our Heavenly Fathers planting. Such must be the temper of our Souls; in the aforesaid Objects our Souls must delight more than in all Riches; and this delight being once setled in us, such worldly delights as are subservient to this, and do neither diminish, nor darken, nor hinder, nor quench it, may justly be said to be lawful.

2. This being premised, we do not deny but such worldly delights, as are neither sinful in themselves, nor appa­rent Occasions of Evil, are allowable. And of this nature are all those Mascu­line Exercises, whereby the Body is pre­served in health, and rendred more ca­pable of serving the Soul in her Religi­ous Severities; as Walking, or Riding abroad to take the Air, Planting, Gar, [Page 120] dening, Raising curious Plants and Flow­ers, Running, Wrestling, Fowling, Hawking, Hunting, Fishing, Leaping, Vaulting, Casting of the Bar, Tossing the Pike, Riding the great Horse, Run­ning at the Ring, and such Divertise­ments which stir the Blood, make us active and vigorous, fit us for greater and more useful Enterprizes, and pro­mote Chearfulness and Liveliness; such cannot be supposed to be forbid by the Gospel, provided that they be used, 1. Seasonably; not on those days and hours which are appointed, either for Devotion, or more weighty Business; and therefore these cannot be proper Exercises of the Lords Day, or Days of Fasting and Abstinence, or Days of Mourning. 2. With Moderation; so that much time be not spent upon them, and our love to them may keep within its due bounds and limits. 3. For a good End; which must be to render our selves fitter for the discharge of our Du­ty to God and Man. 4. With purposes of Self denial; so that we can leave or quit them for a greater Good; when ei­ther [Page 121] a work of Piety, or an act of Cha­rity is to be performed, or Scandal to be prevented; where these Limitations are not observed, the Honey turns into Gall, and that which deserv'd only our Civi­lity and transient Respect, becomes our Idol, and our Souls receive considerable hurt, which, had these Divertisements been used with circumspection, might have been beholding to them in some measure for their welfare and edifica­tion.

3. From this Rule we may rationally infer, that delight in Orchards, Gar­dens, Rivers, Ponds, either Natural or Artificial, and in the Comforts of Wife, Children, Friends, in our Trades, and Relations, Houses, Buildings and Pos­sessions, the bountiful hand of Heaven hath bestowed upon us, is consistent with a serious prospect of a future Judg­ment; not but that excesses may be com­mitted in this delight, as the best and most harmless things may be abused; yet where we delight in them, as they are the Gifts of God, more than as they are Satisfactions to the Flesh, and build [Page 122] not upon them, rest not in them, but still look upon them as things volatile and transitory, and are ready to part with them, whenever Providence shall think fit to remove them, without grum­bling or murmuring, and do let the World see, that in these delights we forget not the Rules of Gravity, Mode­sty, Decency and Charity, they may lawfully be called inoffensive, and as a Snake whose Teeth are pulled out, handled without danger: And though Solomon callsEccles. 2. 4, 8, 10, 11. these Delights Vanity, yet that which made them so, was the immoderateness of his love to­ward them, and his setting his heart, and doating upon them, and placing felicity in them, making them his mark, which should have been only a passage to nobler enjoyments, and fixing there, where he should have lodged only as in an Inn, and so marched on to the City, which hath Foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God. Delight in things of this nature, may soon run beyond its bounds, if either too much cost be spent [Page 123] upon them, whereby the poor are rob­bed of their due, or Men forget to em­ploy their Thoughts upon sublimer Ob­jects.

4. The same may be said of delight in Musick, whether Vocal or Instrumen­tal; a delight harmless enough, if used as Salt, not as Meat; as Sauce, not as Food; as a Bit on the By, not as a stand­ing Diet; and though the Men the Prophet speaks of, Isa. 5. 12. are severe­ly checked for the Harp and the Viol, the Tabret and Pipe in their Feasts, yet it was because they made their Musick an Appendix to their Drunkenness, and as it is said in the same Verse, regarded not the work of the Lord, neither consider­ed the operation of his hands. David's playing upon the Harp was no sin, while it was not to encourage wantonness, but with an intent either to praise God, or to divert Saul's Melancholy; nor can I discommend the Pythagoreans, who, be­fore they went to sleep, composed their Minds with Musick. We read in Gel­lius, Aelian, and others, how men have been cured not only of irregular [Page 124] Passions, but of very strange Distem­pers of the Body by Musick; and what is signally conducing to the Good and Benefit of Mankind, we must suppose is allowed by that God, who himself con­sults the health and welfare of his Crea­tures; and this made Ju­bal's Profession lawful, whoGen. 4. 21. was the Inventer of Musical Instruments, and therefore called the Father of all such as handle the Harp and Organ. The end for which such Delights are used, makes them either tolerable, or impertinent; and as he that designs them to refresh either his own, or other mens weary Spirits, and to glo­rifie God by them, deserves commenda­tion, so he that makes them instrumen­tal to feed mens Lusts, or to promote Lasciviousness and Lightness in Conver­sation, renders himself unworthy of the Name of a Christian; and therefore those Fidlers and Musicians, who shew themselves at merry Meetings, or pro­miscuous Dancings, which serve only to pamper the Flesh, and to encourage Ex­travagance and Luxury, will be able to [Page 125] give but a very sad Account of their Profession; and if ever they come to take a serious view of their past Lives, will have reason to wish that they had spent that time in mourning for their sins: Christianity, which allows us moderate Recreation, bids us abhor all Delights which serve to render the mind vain and foolish, and alienate the Soul from her true centre, or tempt us to mispend the precious hours, the Al­mighty hath lent us to work out our Salvation with fear and trembling.

5. Delight in Books, and natural Sciences, such as Astronomy, Physick, Philosophy, Mathematicks, Histories of all sorts, and in searching into the Nature of Plants, Stones, Minerals, Fruits, Juices, Herbs, Gums, Birds, Fishes, Beasts, &c. as it is a thing use­ful, so it cannot be contrary to the Rules of Christianity; and though A­strology, as it is abused into telling of Fortunes, and good or ill Success in Bu­sinesses, discovering of Thefts and stoln Goods, and knowing future Events, is no proper Object of this Delight, partly, [Page 126] because the Rules are uncertain and ima­ginary; partly, because it tempts Peo­ple to unlawful Curiosities; partly, be­cause the Scripture forbids these Fears and Hopes, which are grounded upon the Aspect of the Signs of Heaven, and looks upon them as Mistrusts of the Di­vine Providence; yet that's no Argu­ment but that a Man may lawfully with some delight enquire into the Nature, and Influences of the Stars, to see, whe­ther what the World hath talked of them, is grounded upon any Scientifick Principles. I need not say here, that delight in Magick, or the Black-Art, as they call it, is as great abomination in the sight of God, as the Sin it self; nor can I give any favourable Judgment of delight in Palmestry, because that Art seems to interfere with that self-resig­nation and dependance upon the Wis­dom and Goodness of God, which is required of us; and even delight in lawful Arts, Books and Sciences, must have its Rules, whereby it must steer its course; for the Affections may stick too close to delights of this Nature, and [Page 127] the delight justle out our warmer de­sires after that knowledge, wherein con­sists Eternal Life. An inordinate de­light in Knowledge, was the cause of our first Apostasie; and it is too often seen that our Ambition to know, slack­ens our endeavours after a practical love of God; and while we doat upon specu­lation, we forget to do that which would make us like our Father which is in hea­ven.

6. Delight in Drinking and Tipling, must needs be as odious to God, as de­light in Wantonness, or Uncleanness, or Lasciviousness, or Lechery, or im­pure Kisses, Touches, Glances, Passi­ons, Desires, Thoughts, Gestures, Po­stures and Imaginations, or Feeding our Eyes with obscene Sights, and Specta­cles, or filthy, smutty, and lewd Com­munications, Discourses, Jests and Ex­pressions, &c. For this is to delight in things God hath forbidden, and to take pleasure in that, to which he hath threat­ned the burning Lake, and the Worm that dies not; and though Custom hath made delight in drinking fashionable, [Page 128] and he that doth so, is not at all reproa­ched, or thought the worse man for it, yet who knows not, that God's thoughts are not as our thoughts, nor will the Al­mighty make the Customs of this world his Rule in passing Sentence in the last Day. Not but that a Man may delight in a Cup of Drink, as it is the gift of God, when he is dry, and Nature re­quires it, and Necessity calls for it; but there is a vast difference betwixt satis­fying the meer Necessities of Nature▪ and gratifying the Desires of Voluptu­ousness and Idleness; to delight in the former, is to preserve, but to delight in the other, is to weaken and destroy Nature; and where men are at a Loss how to spend their time, and therefore make Drinking their delight and sport▪ they act like Solomon's Mad-man, who cast Fire-brands, Arrows and Death and said, Am I not in sport? Prov. 26 18, 19. Nor is it the example of Gen­tlemen, and Persons of Wealth and Quality, that will justifie this dange­rous Delight at the great Tribunal; since believing the Word of God is a greate [...] [Page 129] duty, than to regard our Neighbours practices; and did the whole World espouse a Vice, this would not absolve a Man from his obligation to obey that known Law, Exod. 23. 2. Thou shalt not follow a Multitude to do evil. The Pre­tence Men have in this case that they have no Calling or Imployment, or have nothing to do, and therefore must some way or other divert themselves, is as vain and sinful, as their delight; and the time will come when they will be convinced, that they were under no im­possibility to employ themselves in use­ful exercises, there being innumerable opportunities of doing good, of exhort­ing, teaching, admonishing, helping, assisting and encouraging our Neigh­bours, and improving our own Minds, and far better ways of spending our Time, than in drinking, pledging of Healths, talking idly, censuring our Neighbours, pleasing our Appetite, keeping ill Company, and throwing that away upon our Lusts which might with greater satisfaction have been giv­en to Christ's distressed Members.

[Page 130]7. Delight in Cards and Dice, is a Sport, which very few Divines and wise Men do approve of; and those that have allow'd of it, have given such Re­strictions and Limitations, as makes it evident, that they wish it were rather to­tally left, than practised with so much danger as this delight is commonly at­tended with. The Council of Eliberis would not admit a­nyConc. Eliber. c. 79. person to the holy Com­munion, that plaid at Ta­bles; and if the Offender did repent of his Sport, it was a whole year after his Repentance, before they would admit him to the Holy Table; and to this purpose speaks the Sixth Council General of Con­stantinople. Conc. Const. 6. c. 50. The Truth is, this delight is a manifest occasion of evil; and where there is one that comes off without sinning, there are forty that involve themselves in va­rious Transgressions. What wise Man would stand upon a Precipice, when he can walk in a beaten Road? And where Men love to go to the utmost limit of [Page 131] what is lawful, they commonly fall, and engage themselves to commit Er­rors they did not think of; the Holy Ghost therefore hath not thought fit to reveal to us these utmost bounds, that we might keep within the compass of known duties, and by a due distance from what is sinful, preserve our In­nocence, and Gods Favour. We blame Children for medling with Knives and Swords they know not how to use; and why should we be guilty of a Folly and Imprudence we condemn in them? He that abstains from Cards and Dice, most certainly doth not sin, and who would not take the surest side of the Hedge?

Those Casuists who do allow of this Recreation, make it lawful only with these Provisoes: 1. Provided, that Men play without eagerness, or being much concern'd. 2. That they give no occasion to men to quarrel. 3. That they give all the Money they win to the Poor, or some Pious Use, else it is a sign they do not play for Recreation, but for Gain. 4. That they spend but very [Page 132] little time in it, not above an hour or two. 5. That they avoid all light, vain, and foolish Words, Jests and Expres­sions. 6. That the End they propose to themselves, be only to exhilarate their Spirits; that they may with great­er chearfulness apply themselves to more useful Labours. 7. That they play without using any fraud or deceit, 8. That they give no offence to them who are weak in Faith. 9. That they do not comply with the sinful Actions, Speeches and Behaviour of those they play with.

And with these Restrictions, I questi­on not, but this Recreation may be law­ful; and the same may be said of Bowl­ing, and some other divertisements of this Nature. What some Divines ob­ject here, That playing at Cards and Dice, is a thing of the Nature of Lots, and these being things sacred, ought not to be made Jocular, hath not that substance in it, which at first it seems to have; for though these Games and the Events of them, be things casual, [Page 133] yet every thing that's casual, is not of the Nature of a Lot, else a mans put­ting his hand in his Pocket, and taking out what Money comes next to his hand, and dropping it among People that stand underneath, whereby one gets a Shilling, another Sixpence, a third a Groat, must be called a Lot too: But However, Let's grant, that these Games are of the nature of Lots, how doth it follow from hence, that all Lots are things sacred, because sometimes there is a sacred use made of them, must therefore the use of them be sacred at all times? There is a sacred use made of Dreams, of Bread and Wine, of Clay and Spittle, &c. But must these things therefore be sacred at all times, and in all places? As well might a man infer, that all Worship is religious, because some is such; if it be said, that in Lots there is either a tacit or express implo­ring of a divine determination; I an­swer, that in some Lots there hath been such a thing practised; but that there­fore the same must be practised in all Lots whatsoever, is absurd to imagine. [Page 134] The Apostles indeed, Acts 1. 24. when they cast Lots, add a Prayer to it; but the additional Prayer is not therefore necessary in all Lots, because some per­sons upon special occasions have made use of it. A Lot, or casting of Lots, is properly an action of meer Contin­gency, used to determine a Question by the event, which action, if it be used in things sacred, and of great consequence, may justly be seconded with formal Prayer and imploration of the Divine Direction; but if used in things civil, ordinary and trivial, there is no need of any such sacred Rite or Ceremony: That God hath a hand in all Lots, is no argument, that no Lot may therefore be jocular; for God hath a hand in our Laughter, and in other contingent things which are jocular, yet doth it not follow from thence, that they are therefore absolutely unlawful, but only as circumstances, and the abuse of them may make them so. However, my intent is not to turn Advocate for Gamesters, who abuse these Recreations, as much as the Drunkard doth his Wine and [Page 135] strong Liquor. I have therefore limited the Sport, which limitations shew how dangerous the Recreation is, and how he that plays at these Games walks in a manner upon Thorns, and had there­fore need walk very cautiously, that some mischief doth not befal him.

If the aforesaid Restrictions be obser­ved, it is a sign we make some consci­ence of our ways, and with David, set the Lord in all places before our eyes. I am sensible, Men will plead impossibi­lity of keeping to these bounds, and pre­tend that this way they shall have no sport; but if it be so, and they cannot play without greater liberty or licenti­ousness, it is not only far better, but ne­cessary totally to abstain from it. He that knows such a Diet will not agree with him, by a natural instinct for­bears, and refuses to meddle with it; and if we know that by such recreati­ons our Souls cannot live according to the strict Rules of Conscience, what can be more reasonable than to shun and avoid them? Wisdom is as neces­sary in spiritual things as in temporal▪ [Page 136] and he that doth not practise it in the concerns of his Soul, as well as in those of his Body, cannot be supposed to be a man of any ardent Devotion.

8. Delight in Feasting, or in going to Feasts, though this seems to be harm­less, and some will wonder, why this should be brought upon the Stage, and the lawfulness of it questioned; yet there are Rocks even in this Delight, which if the Soul doth not shun, it may be in danger of Ship-wrack; and though its true, that Eating, and Drinking, and Sleeping, and using Physick, where the Body is in danger, are necessary Delights, and such, without which Nature cannot be kept in its due order and health, and aptitude for working; yet Intempe­rance may be committed in all these, and consequently, these Delights deserve to be taken notice of, and fenced with sutable Cautions, that we do not exceed our measure.

And as nothing is more certain, than that the Voluptuousness of Cleopatra, He­liog abulus, Apicius, and other Gluttons, is a most detestable Vice, so it may justly [Page 137] be demanded, whether Feasting, which borders upon that Voluptuousness, espe­cially if a man take delight and pleasure in it, may not deserve very great cir­cumspection? Plato looked upon Di­onysius as a Monster, because he did eat twice a day; yet cannot this be a rule, whereby we may give judgment of this Delight, since the Constitutions, Cli­mates, Countreys, and the Complexi­ons and Necessities of Men require va­rious applications of Food and Nourish­ment.

That Feasts are things lawful in them­selves, no man of Sense or Reason can deny; for not only the Examples of ho­ly Men in Scripture, but Gods Com­mand, or Permission to the Jews, Deut. 4. 6. are a sufficient demonstration; and the Love-Feasts the Primitive Christi­ans used, St. Jude approves of, v. 12. Not to mention that they are Bonds of Union, and Preservatives of Friendship and Respect, and that the universal Consent of Nations doth warrant them.

[Page 138]These Feasts, as they are usual either at Inaugurations, or at Nuptials, or up­on some other solemn Occasions, or a­mong Friends and Relations, so the De­light a Christian takes either in making them, or in going to them, must be re­gulated by these following Observati­ons.

As to the Party that makes them; 1. That he do not confine his Invitation to the Rich and Wealthy, and who are able to Feast him again, but extend it withal to the Poor and Naked, to the Blind and to the Lame, according to Christ's Rule, Luke 14. 13, 14. 2. That he do not make any Feasts for ostentati­on sake, but with a pious intent of pre­serving and augmenting Friendship, Love and Charity; for ambition to be talked of and commended, is against the general Prohibition of desiring vain Glory, Gal. 5. 26. 3. That he do not Feast on those Days on which a Nation Fasts, or Humbles it self, to deprecate Gods Wrath and Anger; for this is ex­presly forbidden, Amos 6. 4, 5, 6. 4. That he do not study too great Curious­ness, [Page 139] or Delicacy in his Dishes, nor be­stow too much Cost upon the Enter­tainment; for this looks like expecting of Applauses, and catching the Praises and Admirations of Men, which is be­low a Philosopher, and therefore much more a Christian. 5. That he leave every Guest to his Choice and Liberty, and press no Person to eat or drink more than satisfies Nature, in which parti­cular, Ahashuerus his Practice is to be commended, Est. 1. 5. 6. That he sug­gest unto his Guests Opportunities to discourse of Subjects grave and serious, either Divinity or History, or something useful to the Publick, or Philosophy, whereby his Friends may receive some Edification; and this seems to be the purport of St. Paul's Admonition, 1 Cor. 10. 31. 7. That he encourage nothing of Ribald Talk, no promiscuous Dancing, no Ballads, no vain drinking of Healths, no Apish Actions of Fools and Jesters, and give no occasion by Word or Deed to Contention or unseemly Behaviour in any man; for this were to make him­self accessory to other mens sins; a thing [Page 140] contrary to the Law of Christ, 1 Tim. 5. 22.

As to the Party that goes to a Feast, his delight deviates from the Rule of the Gospel; if, 1. He goes to it with no higher intent than to please, and to fill his Belly with the good Chear he hopes to find there. These are base ends, differ not from those of Brutes, and dis­cover a temper that hath not yet tasted of the Powers of the World to come. It is true, whoever goes to a Feast, goes with an intent to eat there; but to a Christian Philosopher this is only a sub­ordinate end; in this he places no feli­city, with this he doth not greatly please himself, but a desire to express his re­spect and affection to his Friend, hopes of hearing or doing some good at such times, and a design by his own Tem­perance and Sobriety, to teach or in­vite others to their Duty; these are the principal ends which make him go: and this is most agreeable, not only to the Rules of his Faith, but to Reason too. 2. His delight grows irregular and sin­ful, if he sits very long at it; for here­by [Page 141] much time is lost, and God expresly condemns it, Es. 5. 11. Time, as it is one of the richest Talents God vouch­safes us, so care must be taken, that much of it be not spent upon carnal Sa­tisfactions, which are things too mean to throw away so great a Treasure up­on; and though that time at Feasts and Entertainments is well spent, which is spent in serious and profitable Dis­courses and Conferences, yet since these are altogether out of fashion, and Peo­ple think they are not welcome except they may laugh at every Trifle, and speak whatever comes next; this makes spending but little time at such Meet­ings necessary; for the longer this un­profitable spending lasts, the greater grows our Account, and with the Ac­count our Inexcusableness. 3. His de­light degenerates, if at such times he be not a strict observer of the Rules of Temperance. Feasts, as they require Guests, so they require Self-denial in the Guests too; and though I cannot much commend the Custom of the Py­thagoreans, who would come to a Feast, [Page 142] and to let men see their victory over their Appetite, depart from it without eating any thing; yet to eat and drink with great moderation, is at such times the more necessary, by how much the Temptations are greater; and St. Hie­rom's Rule in this case, is so to eat and drink, as not to indispose our selves af­ter it for Prayer and Meditation.

9. Delight in Fashionable Cloaths and Habits; though the great liberty Men and Women take in things of this Na­ture, hath infected Peoples minds with that stupidity, that few do think it worth questioning whether it be lawful or no; yet notwithstanding all this, he that shall impartially examine the va­rious Invectives the Holy Ghost makes against thisEs. 3. 18, 19, 20, 21. 1 Tim. 2. 9, 10. 1 Pet. 3. 3, 4. Delight, will think him­self concern'd to be more inquisitive in this Point; Cloaths as they were giv­en, 1. To cover our Nakedness. 2. To keep out Cold and other Injuries of the Air. 3. To make a difference betwixt Men and Women. 4. To consult the [Page 143] health of our Bodies, which being sub­ject to Sweats and Perspirations, are hereby refreshed. 5. To distinguish Men in Places, Offices, Dignities, from the meaner Sort, the Noble from the Ignoble, and consequently to keep up Order in a Common. wealth or King­dom; as they were designed by the Almighty for such uses, so we see that where Persons suffer their Affections to delight in the Fineries, and Fashions, and Modishness of them, their Minds are too often drawn away from more excel­lent Satisfactions, Vanity enters into them, and whatever Formality they may keep up in Matters of Religion, Spiritual things begin to be dull and in­sipid to them, at least their relish and admiration doth in a great measure de­cay and vanish.

I know not how it comes to pass, but Experience assures us, that Simplicity in Cloaths doth very much cherish Se­riousness, as Vanity and Excess in such things doth strangely weaken & debili­tate its Force and Power; and though Cloaths seem to be foreign to Religion, [Page 144] and small, inconsiderable Trifles, yet so it is, that the smaller and the more tri­vial some things appear, the more in­sensibly they incroach upon the Spiritual Part, the Soul, and render it earthly and sensual, and therefore deserve our greater cautiousness and circum­spection. St Austin there­foreDe Serm. in Monte lib. 2. is very peremptory: He that is fond, saith he, of out­ward Splendor, whether in Cloaths, or other things, soon betrays himself that he is in love with the Pomp and Glory of the world nor can such a person deceive any serious man with a shew of Holiness.

As it was part of our Saviour's Pro­vince to reduce things to the primitive Institution, so, if we reflect, how God▪ when he cloath'd our first Parents, did not study Splendor, but Necessity; no [...] Gayety, but Conveniency; and made them Coats of Skins, and by so doing▪ warned us against Pride and Extrava­gance; we shall find but little reason to be fond of over-curious and fashiona­ble Habits, especially if we cast our Eyes upon the Original of Cloaths; for [Page 145] Sin caused Shame, and Shame produced Cloathing.

I do not deny, but that it is lawful to make use, not only of a plain and home­ly Suit, but of richer Vestments and Habiliments; for since God hath allow­ed us not only Bread and Water for our Sustenance, but variety of Food, if used with Moderation and Thanksgiv­ing; so I doubt not, but richer Habits, especially if our Places, Offices, and Stations, and Ranks oblige us to it, may be allowable; but it is one thing to go rich and gaudy meerly because our con­dition requires it, another to delight and take pleasure, and great satisfaction in it; for this insensibly emasculates the Mind, depresses it, and renders it vain and enamoured with the World,

Every Man that strives for Mastery, is temperate in all things, saith St. Paul, 1 Cor. 9. 25. It is evident, that we all profess striving for an incorruptible Crown, and if Temperance in all things be necessary in order to it, this Tempe­rance must necessarily appear in our Cloaths, as well as Diet, else the Tem­perance [Page 146] is partial, and consequently no part of that Wisdom which is from a­bove.

A Christian should be the humblest, gravest, and modestest Creature living; and who can be so irrational as to think that delight in imitating every Fashion, is agreeable to this Gravity, Modesty, and Humility? and though what Judas said, John 12. 5. was spoke with an ill end, yet it may justly enough be appli­ed to the case in hand; Why might not such things purely superfluous, be sold, and given to the poor? That by such things there is Injustice done to the poor, who might be fed with these superfluities, wise Men have complained in most Ages; In the primitive Church, when Men priz'd Religion at a higher rate, it was a thing very common for persons who were converted, for Women espe­cially, when God was pleased to give them a vehement desire after the felicity of the next Life, to sell all their richer Garments, and feed Christ's poor Disci­ples with the Money, and for the future, to give that away to charitable uses, [Page 147] which formerly they used to bestow up­on their Luxury in Cloathing. They knew they had nobler things to mind, than adorning this Lump of Flesh, which was shortly to be Meat for Worms, and to putrifie in the Grave; and thought, while they were curious in dressing, and covering their Bodies, they should forget to trim their Souls; and while their better part and its Beauty engrossed their desires and affe­ctions, they were the less curious in the setting out and garnishing of the o­ther.

Women, as they are naturally more prone to this Delight, so the Apostles, in giving Precepts about Cloathing, do in a peculiar manner address themselves to them, justly supposing that1 Tim. 2. 9, 1 Pet. 3. 3. if it be unlawful for them, Men, who have not ordina­rily that inclination nor those temptations to it that they have, ought to think themselves obliged to live above it; and though I do not think, that in those places broidered Hair, and Gold, and Pearls, and costly [Page 148] Array, are absolutely forbidden, yet they are so far forbid, as they are im­pediments to Godliness, to Shame-fa­cedness, Sobriety, Modesty, Good Works, and the Growth of the hidden Man in the Heart, and to that Orna­ment of a meek and quiet Spirit, which is in the sight of God, of great Price; as is evident from the opposition the Apostles make between the one and the other; and that delight in such cloaths, is a great Enemy to all these, I need produce no other Argument, but what is drawn from common Experience.

That which is usual­ly pleaded for PeoplesVid. Chrysost. Hom. 10. in Col. going rich, and splen­did, that by doing so, they set poor men to work, who would be at a loss for a Livelihood, if they did not take off their Commodities, such as modish Laces, Ribbands, Silks, Velvets, Embroideries, &c. is a pre­tence rather than an argument, and seems rather invented, as a Salvo for Peoples Vanity, than a testimony of the sincerity of their intentions; for, not to [Page 149] mention, that at this rate men might argue, that Players, Fencers, Bull­baiters, Juglers, &c. would want em­ployment, if men did not go to see their Sports; were there no persons to take off such things at their hands, men would betake themselves to other trades and callings, and professions. Howe­ver, in these cases, it's worth examin­ing our Consciences, whether we wear these things out of compassion to the poor Workmen, or out of Pride, and Delight in the Pomp and Splendor of the World; and if we deal faithfully with our hearts, we shall soon find, that the pity we pretend to the Work­men, is only a Cloak to cover the secret satisfaction we take in conforming to the World; and this is evident from hence, that let the Workmen work ne­ver so hard, if the thing they make, be not exactly in the Fashion, I see no per­son so chritable as to take it off of their hands.

There is no doubt but a Woman, who is married, is in a great measure obli­ged to please her Husband, and the A­postle [Page 150] seems to allow so much, 1 Cor. 7. 34. and from hence this Conclusion is commonly drawn, that if it be the Hus­bands pleasure, that the Wife shall go fine and gaudy, it is her duty to obey; nor do I perceive, that Divines do or­dinarily find fault with this Conclusion; for fine Cloaths being things in them­selves indifferent, lawful, or unlawful, according to the End and Design Men and Women have in them, and the use they make of them; if the party's Con­science that wears them, bears her witness, that notVid. Cypr. de Habit. Virg. Ed. Oxon. p. 95. out of any delight or satis­faction, or secret pleasure in such Gauds and emp­ty things, but meerly out of obedience to Her Husband, she both buys and puts them on, much may be said in her Justification; for though this desire in her Husband may be irregular, and an Argument that he hath no very great sense of Religion, yet the thing being in it self indifferent, the Wife in this case may lawfully comply, as Mothers and Nurses please froward Children by [Page 151] whistling, or singing a Childish Tune to them. It was from hence, that Queen Esther professesEst. 14. 16. to God in her Prayer, that it was not any fondness to that rich ha­bit she wore, or any delight she took in it, that made her put it on, but a desire to comply with the King; and that, as to the Cloaths themselves, she looked upon them as menstruous Rags. So that the Result of all is this:

Rich Cloaths may be worn, 1. Pro­vided that we do not wear them out of emulation, with an intent to vye with our Neighbours, or to let them see, that we have as much Money, and can af­ford it as well as they. 2. Provided that all Pride and Ostentation in things of this nature be laid aside, and that we do not think our selves the better Men for these Accoutrements, nor despise o­thers, who either will not, or cannot imitate us. 3. Provided that we do not make them Allurements to Lusts, or Baits of Vanity, nor wear them to attract the Applause, and Courtship, and Commendations of Spectators, nor [Page 152] hope to be therefore admired by the Croud, or Men of little consideration, nor seek to deceive others by this out­side, thereby to obtain our base and sinister Designs. 4. Provided that the Place, Calling, Office and Dignity in the Kingdom or Common-wealth we live in, require it. 5. Provided that we spend but very little time in putting on such Habits. 6. Provided that in the putting of them on, or wearing of them, we reflect much on the Nobler Garb of the King's Daughter, which is all glorious within, and how far great­er satisfaction it is to be cloathed with the garment of Righteousness and Hu­mility. 7. Provided that we do it on­ly to please those whom God hath made our Superiors and Governors, whether in the Civil or Oeconomick State. 8. Pro­vided that in these Habits we behave our selves with that Modesty, Gravity, and Gentleness, as becomes Christians. 9. Provided that we do not go to the extream of every Fashion, but keep within the compass of these Modes, and imitate the most religious, and the most [Page 153] moderate persons. 10. Provided that we do deny our selves in the number of them, and bestow the superfluous upon those that want them more than we, or give something equivalent to such as are in straights and necessities; in a word, that we do not forget to cloath the na­ked, nor hide our selves from our own Flesh, as God speaks, Isa. 58. 7.

With these Restrictions I doubt not, but rich Cloaths may lawfully be wore, though still I say, that the plainer and more modest our outward Habit is, the nearer we approach that Christian Sim­plicity, which God hath the greatest va­lue for. But for any delight in splendid Habits, or being pleased, or tickling our Fancy and Imagination with them, that's a thing which no serious Christi­an can allow of, and the Primitive Be­lievers were so peremptorily against it, that they scarce looked upon such per­sons as Christians.

To this purpose, St. Cyprian doth very pathetically address himself to the Vir­gins of that Age. Some of you, saith he, are rich, and abound in Wealth, and these [Page 154] pretend that they may lawfully make a shew of their Riches in their outward Dress, and use those Blessings God hath given them. Cyprian de Ha­bit. Virgin. But be it known to you, that she is properly rich, that is rich toward God, and she only wealthy, who is wealthy in Christ Jesus; these are the true Riches which are Spiri­tual, Divine, and Heavenly, which ledd us unto God, and are like to continue with us in the presence of God for ever: But as to other things which are pleasing to the world, and remain in the world, those ought to be despised as much as the world it self, whose Pomp and Glory we then re­nounced, when in our Baptism we gave our selves up to God. St. John therefore ad­jures us. Love not the World, nor the things that are in the World; for if any man love the World, the love of the Father is not in him; for all that is in the World, the Lust of the Flesh, and the Lust of the Eye, and the Pride of Life, is not of the Father, but is of the World, and the World passes away, and the Lust thereof, but he that doth [Page 155] the Will of God abideth for ever, 1 Joh. 2. 15, 16.

Therefore Divine and Eternal Objects must be pursued, and all things done accord­ing to the will of God, that we may tread in our great Masters steps. Thou saist thou art rich, but St. Paul answers the Ob­jection, and confines thy Garments and Habit to certain bounds, and so doth St. Peter; and if they oblige even Wives to the observance of this Rigor, and Ecclesia­stical Discipline, who have somewhat to plead for themselves, because they must please their Husbands, how much more is a Virgin tied to live up to these holy Rules, who hath no excuse for her gaudy Dress? Thou saist, thou art rich, and canst afford it; but all that thou canst do, is not there­fore lawful to do, nor must the luxurious desires of the Flesh, which rise only from Ambition, go beyond the Limits of Vir­ginity, since it is written, All things are lawful, but all are not expedient. Thou saist, thou art rich, and therefore thinkest thou maist use what God hath bestowed up­on thee; use it in the name of God; but then use it to such things as God hath com­manded. [Page 156] Let the poor find that thou art rich; let the needy feel [...] it thou dost abound▪ gain the favor of thy God by thy Patrimony, feed the hungry Jesus, and lay up thy trea­sure there where Thieves cannot break in and steal; get thee Possessions, but let them be Celestial, such as the Moth can­not corrupt, nor Rust eat away, nor the Hail destroy, nor the Sun dry up, nor the Rain melt away: Thou sinnest against God, if thou thinkest thy Riches are given thee not to make a wholesome use of them: God hath given man a Voice, must he therefore sing amorous, and undecent, and obscene Tunes with it? God hath made I­ron, must thou therefore murther men with it? And because he hath vouchsafed unto us Frankincense, and Wine, and Fire, must we therefore sacrisice to Idols? Or, because thy Herds and Flocks are great, must thou therefore commit Idolatry with them? Riches are great Temptations, except they be employed to pious uses. In Scripture the Where of Baby­lon is brought in array'd in Rev. 17. 4. Purple and Scarlet Colours, and decked with Gold, and Precious Stone, [Page 157] and Pearl, and her Judgment is said to be great and terrible; and the Prophet Esaias threatens a fatal humiliation to the Daughters of Sion, because of their Brave­ry; when they were exalted thus, they fell, being trimmed thus, they deserved to have their Perfumes turned into a stink; being deck'd with Silk and Purple, they could not put on Christ; being adorned with Bracelets and Jewels, they lost the true Ornaments of their Hearts and Consci­ences; Who would not shun that whereby others have perished? Who would desire that which hath been a Sword and Arrow to others? If a man should drop down dead upon drinking of a Cup, we should con­clude it was Poyson that killed him; and what stupid Ignorance of the Truth must it be, what madness to be fond of that which hath always done, and still doth hurt, and to imagine thou shalt not be un­done by that, whereby thou knowest others have been ruined?

Thus far St. Cyprian, who lived about the year of our Lord 248. an eminent Bishop, and who afterwards died a Martyr in Christ's Cause, and in all pro­bability [Page 158] spoke not only his own sense but the judgment of the Universal Church in this Point, I will conclude this Subject with a Pas­sage out of Tertullian, St.Tertul. de cult. Foem. l. 2. c. 13. Cyprian's Master, who thus reasons the Case with the Women of his Age:

‘What means that saying, Let your light shine before men? Why doth our Lord call us the light of the World▪ Why doth he compare us to a City seated upon a Hill, if we shine not in darkness, or do not stand up among the drowned part of the World? If thou hide thy candle under a Bushel, thou must needs, being left in the dark, be subject to numberless assaults. These are the things which make us lights of the World, even our good works. True goodness is not enamoured with darkness, but rejoyces to be seen, and is glad to be pointed at. A modest and shame-faced Christian doth not think it enough, that he is so, but he delights to appear so too; for such must be the fullness of his vertues, that it may [Page 159] burst out from the mind within, to the habit without, and press from the con­science to the outward man, that men from without may see what store, and treasure he hath in the secret recesses of his Soul. Voluptuousness, and Wantonness must be renounced, for by these the Vertue of Faith loses its masculine vigor. I doubt the hand that hath been used to Bracelets, will never endure the sturdiness of a Chain for Christ Jesus; nor can I apprehend, how the Knee used to a soft Garter will be able to endure the Stocks, or Racks for the Gospel; and I very much question, whether that Neck which glistered with Pearls, and precious Stones, will ever yield unto the Sword of persecution; therefore my beloved, let's chuse hard and uneasie things and we shall not feel them, let's forsake the pleasant things of this World, and we shall not desire them; these are the Anchors of our hope; let's lay aside these outward gayeties, if we aim at the Wedding Garment in Heaven; let not Gold prove the object of our love, [Page 160] by which the sins of Israel are expres­sed; let's hate that which hath un­done the Patriarchs, and was adored by them after they had forsaken the fountain of living waters. Come forth beloved, and set before you the rich attire of the Prophets and Apo­stles of our Lord; take your fairness from their simplicity, your blushes from their modesty, paint your eyes with their shamefacedness, and your lips with their self-denial in speaking; instead of Pendants, insert in your ears the word of God, and let your necks bear the yoke of Christ Jesus; submit your heads to your own Husbands▪ and then you'll be dressed like Christi­ans; employ your hands about Wool, and as much as you can, keep at home, and this will render you more amia­ble than Gold; Clothe your selves with the Silk of Innocence, with the Velvet of Holiness, and with the Pur­ple of Chastity, and thus adorned, God will fall in love with you.’

10. Delight in Painting and Patch­ing, and artificial meliorations of the [Page 161] Fate and Skin, to please and delude spe­ctators, or to draw others into admirati­on of our persons, as it is a thing which the ve­ryVid. Celada com­mentar. in Judith, c. 10. Plutarch. in A­pophthegm, Aelian var. Hist. l. 8. Heathens have con­demn'd for reasons drawn from the light of nature, so it is almost needless to discourse of it, or to batter it with Arms and Weapons out of the Magazine of the Gospel. This Delight hath in most Ages been infamous, and the thing it self counted incongruous with the Law of our very Creation. The Fathers of the second, third and fourth Centuries, derive the Original of it from the De­vil, and will allow nothing of this na­ture in any person that looks like a Chri­stian. It is a sign that the Spirit of Christ doth not dwell in a person that dares delight in such Vanities; for that Spirit inclines the Soul to other things, makes her regardless of Beauty and ex­ternal Comeliness, obliges her solici­tous about inward Accomplishments, and how she may please him that died, and hath purchased an eternal Salvation [Page 162] for her; and it's enough, that he that hath not the Spirit of Christ, is none of his. A Soul thatRom. 8. 9. hath the Spirit of Christ, hath other things to do, than spend her time and care in mending the Face; for they that are after the Flesh, do mind the things of the Flesh; Rom. 8. 5. but they that are after the Spi­rit, the things of the Spirit. And what are the things of the Spirit, but setting our affections upon the things which are above, meditating of the pur­chased possession, longing after the light of God's countenance, despising the world, self-denial, taking up the Cross of Christ, a transcendent love of God, a burning zeal to his Glory, laying up in store a good foundation against the time to come, growing strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, resisting temptations, growing in Grace, labouring after a greater hatred of sin, a greater fore-taste of Heaven, a great­er conformity to the Will of God, a greater sense of the love of God, &c. And he that in good earnest minds these [Page 163] things, will have no great desire to bu­sie himself about such pitiful, trivial and impertinent things; these will be trash and dirt to him, and his Soul will soar above them, and scorn them, as the Devils Lime▪twigs, whereby he lies in wait to deceive. And though I will not deny, but that a man in case of dan­ger, and when his Life is in jeopardy, or when he would pass through a party of his Enemies, may lawfully disguise himself, and by Art change and alter his Countenance, that he may not be known; and though a man who hath lately had the Small Pox, or hath been Sun-burnt, or whose Face hath been parch'd with Wind, may lawfully take care by ordinary helps to reduce his face to his former, or native colour and complexion; and though we do not judge it against the Law of God, to hide some great Blemish or Defect in the Face, whereby Spectators may be offended, and particularly Women that are with Child, frighted; and though it is not inconsistent with the Rule of the Gospel, to wash the Face when [Page 164] dirty; yet all those Pains and addition­al Washes, and artificial black Spots, whereby Men and Women endeavour either to set off their complexion the better, to give themselves a more pleas­ing Colour, or to mend their Meen, or to make themselves look more beautiful, or to attract the Eyes, and Admiration, and sometimes the unlawful Amours of those they converse withal, are things which a Christian must be a stranger to.

When I say Men, it is not without reason; for we read of such a Beast as Paul, the SecondPlatin. in Paul 2. Pope of Rome, who whene­ver he went abroad, painted himself, that the Beauty of his Face might in some measure be answerable to the Comeliness of his Stature, which was procere and tall; and it is to be feared, that this Effeminacy dwells in too ma­ny Persons of the Masculine Sex at this day: However, as Women are usually more faulty this way, than Men, so they give us but small hopes to believe, that they are Heirs of Heaven, while [Page 165] they are so industrious to please their Acquaintance and others here on Earth.

St. Paul would not please Men, no not in the Ceremonies of the Law, which were things formerly commanded by God, thinking it unworthy of a Chri­stian, that had been freed from that Yoke by the Son of God; and how un­worthy must it be then to please Men in things which God hath never command­ed, nay by many hints and places disco­vered his dislike of? How justly may God look upon it as Presumption, to alter that Face which he thought fit to create in that shape it is of? And what is it but contending with our Maker, and expostulating with the Potter, Why hast thou made me thus? and controul­ing his Art and Wisdom, while not con­tent with the Countenance he hath giv­en, we seek to appear in a better?

As we are Christians, Sincerity must be our Character, not only in heart, but in the outward behaviour; and what Sincerity can there be in cheating Men with our Faces, and to make them [Page 166] believe that to be natural, which we know is counterfeit and artificial? We that are naturally prone to Pride, and Levity, and Lightness of Deportment, had not need encourage it by such Incen­tives, and put Oyl to that Fire, which, without great help is apt to burn in­to Hell. We shall meet with impedi­ments enough from the World and the Devil, in our spiritual race; it is mad­ness therefore to encrease those Obsta­stacles by new inventions of our own, and we that know how apt every thing is to damp our holy Fervors, had not need make use of such vanities to ex­tinguish them.

In the whole Scripture we read of no Women that ever painted themselves, but one that was cursed to a Proverb, even Jezabel, 2 Kings 9. 33. And Eusebius makes menti­onEuseb. l. 5. c. 15. of a great instrument of the Devil, whereby he sow'd Heresies in the Church, that used this Trade, viz. Maximilla. Even among the Heathen, those that did so, were none of the best Fame and Credit in the [Page 167] World, such as Poppoea, Nero's Wife, and others; and in holy Writ, for the most part this delight is described as meritricious, and a quality of Strum­pets and Harlots, as we see, Ezek. 23. 40.

And certainly neither these Examples nor Descriptions can be any great [...]n­ticement to a Christian to imitate such infamous Patterns, who is to remember those who have spoken to him in the Name of the Lord, and to follow their Faith, considering the end of their con­vversation, Heb. 13. 7.

It was an excellent Character St. Gre­gory Nazianzene gave of the pious Gorgonia; No Greg. Naz. in laudem Gorg. Gold, saith he, adorn­ed her Temples, no flaxen hair, no borrowed locks, no artifi­cial curles flew about her sacred head, no flowing mantles, no transparent vails, no looser garb that wanton'd in the Air, no costly stones vying with the brightness of the Stars, no Painters Arts help'd to grace her noble frame, no operator assisted her to countermine the work of God in her, and [Page 168] by deceitful colours to hide the curious fa­brick of her Face, or to prostitute the di­vine shape that was in her, to wanton and impurer eyes, or to vitiate her natural Image, which was reserved for God and ano­ther World, by an adulterous, fictitious Beauty. But even then, when she was ac­quainted with all the tricks and modes of ornaments, she would acknowledge and own none but what her Piety, and the Harmo­ny of her Soul did give her. No other Red pleased her, but what her modest blushes caused; no White but what fasting and abstinence brought into her Cheeks; and as for Painting and modish Looks, and bor­row'd Beauty, she left those impertinen­cies and vanities, to actors and Ministers of the Stage, persons who have forgot to blush, and are ashamed of nothing so much as of sobriety and gravity.

This is an example for all Christian Women to write Copies by; and though the age we live in, hath long ago learned to despise this self-denial, as a starcht formality and precise niceness, yet that doth not make it of less value before Almighty God, who sees with [Page 169] other eyes, and is resolved to rectifie these wilful mistakes, if other means here on Earth will not do it, with Eter­nal Vengeance.

To this purpose St. Cyprian, Art not thou afraid, vain Woman, who makest use of Paint, De Habit. virg. p. 100. and Washes, and such o­ther curious fooleries about thy Face, art not thou afraid that thy Cre­ator, when thou comest before him, will not know thee, but exclude thee rather from the promised Inheritance? May not he reasonably use the language of a Censor, and a Judge, and say▪ This is not my Creature, here I see nothing of my Image; Thou hast polluted thy skin with false ap­plications, the hair I gave thee is changed by Adulterous colours, thy face is nothing but a lie, the figure of it is corrupted, it is another thing than what it was; how canst thou see God, when thou hast not the looks God gave thee, but infected ra­ther by the Devil? Him thou hast fol­low'd, thou hast imitated the old Serpeut, thou hast borrowed thy Ornaments from thine Enemy, and with him thou must [Page 170] burn. O my Friends, are not these thing to be considered by God's servants? A [...] not these things at which they may justly tremble day and night? Let those who ar [...] married and flatter themselves, that they do it in complisance to their Husbands▪ look to it, and see whether they do not in making such excuses, accuse themselves of being partners in the sin; and as for Virgins and Maids who use these unlaw­ful arts, I cannot reckon them in th [...] number of true Virgins, but judge ra­ther, that they ought to be removed from other young Women, like so many rotten sheep, that they do not infect others by their corruption.

In vain do people plead here, that the Apostle, 1 Cor. 12. 23. allows us to be­stow more abundant honor on those members of the Body, which we think to be less honourable, and therefore a homely Face may be trick'd up with suitable paints, and spots, and washes; for not to mention that the Apostle by those members doth not mean the face and cheeks, but such as modesty bids us conceal; The honour there spoken [Page 171] of, cannot be understood of paints and washes, for they are no Ornaments, but dissimulations and deceptions, and the honour that is allow'd to such uncomly parts, is hiding of them from the sight of Men, which I suppose such vain per­sons will never practise on their Faces.

And what if the ingredients of such Fucus's be Gods Creatures, so is poison too, and yet we see few persons so mad, as to make use of it so as to drink it, nor doth it signifie much, that persons may have a good end in all this, since we are not to do evil, that good may come out of it. It's granted, that na­tural beauty may provoke spectators to lust, and lascivious desires, as well as artificial, yet from thence it follows not, that therefore the artificial ought to be allow'd of, as well as the natural, for there is not the same reason for the one that there is for the other; the na­tural, God bestows and cannot be blam­ed, nor did the person that hath it spend time, and pains, and care to get it; the artificial as people cannot endeavour after it, but their corrupt minds and [Page 172] affections must prompt them to it; so it argues discontentedness with what God hath thought fit to give them, and an itching desire to deceive the unwary spectator. And suppose natural Beauty allures and tempts voluptuous Men, must therefore more evil be added to the former? must people therefore in­crease temptations with artificial Beau­ty? Is not the World bad enough? And must it be made worse? Must sin be therefore multiplied, and the sickly minds of carnal men, more and more distemper'd? Is it not enough that na­tural Beauty is so dangerous? and shall we encrease the danger by tricks and artifices?

St. Chrysostomes advice here is very seasonable; ‘Consider I beseech you, Sarah andHomil. 31. in Matth. Rebeckah, and such Ma­trons, who have all un­dervalued this vanity, and Leah, tho' she was not handsom, nor so well be­loved as Rachel, yet used no art to make her so, but the lineaments, and features of her face remained as na­ture [Page 173] had disposed them, nor was she at all concerned at her homeliness, though educated by Parents who were Pagans and Idolaters; and shalt thou whose head is Christ, and who pre­tendest to be a Believer, approve of these inventions of the Devil? Dost not thou remember the water that was sprinkled upon thy face in Baptism, nor the Sacrament whereby thy lips and tongue were blessed? Didst thou seriously think of this, whatever fond desires thou mightest naturally have after such dangerous Ornaments, thou wouldst not dare to fulfil them; Re­member, thou didst vow to be con­formable to Christ Jesus, and thou wilt hate this deformity, for he de­lights not in these deceitful colours, but requires a sublimer Beauty, even that of thy Soul and Spirit; why shouldst thou attempt a thing so vain, so needless and superfluous? There is no defect in any of Gods works, nor is there any thing that stands in need of thy making it better than it is; none dare add any new strokes to the [Page 174] Picture of a King, and if he dares, h [...] smarts for it; when thou darest ad [...] nothing to the workmanship of Man [...] art not thou afraid to make Gods work better than it is? Doth not the fire of the burning lake come into thy mind, and dost not thou think how thy soul will one day be totally forsak­en, whose concerns thou must needs neglect now while thou appliest all thy care and study and thoughts to thy body? Why do I say, thou neglect est thy soul; thy very body doth not enjoy what thou wishest for, which is evident from hence, because, while thou seekest to be handsom, thou dost really appear homely; thou seekest by this to please thy Husband, where­as it cannot but be a grief to him, no [...] is it he only that blames thee, but o­thers also do despise thee. Thou would est fain appear young, but thy very paint hastens old Age; and where­as thou fanciest that this will make thee look glorious, thou dost but pre­pare for thy shame. But why do I mention things of this nature, while I [Page 175] forgo the greater arguments, as that thou offendest God, underminest mo­desty, raisest jealousie, and makest prostitute Women thy patterns. All which being laid together, I beseech you despise these hellish Ornaments and unprofitable arts, and renouncing this formosity, or rather deformity, learn to be ambitious of that Beauty, which Angels do desire, which God is enamour'd with, and which cannot but be pleasing to your Husbands too, that having spent and led your life ho­nourably here, you may attain at last to everlasting Glory.’

11. Delight in Dancing is another common Recreation, and though Danc­ing in it self, as it is an agility or mo­tion of the Body, whereby the body is preserved in health, and vigor, cannot be said to be unlawful, no more than singing and exercising the tongue (not to me [...]on that agility of body is a gift of God, [...]nd if it be moved and exerci­sed with observing time and measure, there is nothing in the word of God di­rectly or indirectly against it) yet the [Page 176] manner and use, and the ends and de­signs of it, make a very great diffe­rence in the lawfulness and unlawful­ness of it.

That David Danced before the A [...] of God, to testifie his joy, and exulta­tion at so great a blessing, we read, [...] Sam. 6. 14. and Michaels despising him for it is noted as an errour, for which by a Divine judgment she was doom' [...] to be childless; v. 23. which shews that God approv'd of that expression o [...] his joy, and the Prophets of Israel per­mitted the Women to Sing and Dance and to answer one another, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his te [...] thousands, 1 Sam. 18. 6, 7. a custom which in all probability they had learn­ed of Miriam the Prophetess, the Sister of Aaron, who after the victory over the Aegyptians took a Timbrel in her hand, and all the Women went out after her, with Timbrels and with Dances, Exod. 15. 20. But then this Dancing was still upon a Spiritual account, with an intent to praise God, and to glorifie him not only in their souls, but bodies too; [Page 177] and besides, the Women Danced by themselves, and the Men by themselves without mixing one with another, and only upon extraordinary occasions, when Gods power and goodness was to be Celebrated, and the younger sort were to be incouraged to chearful Hal­lelujahs, which is an argument, that Dancing out of wantonness, or pro­miscuous Dancing, Men and Women Dancing together to please spectators, and to divert themselves, hath no war­rant from the sacred Oracles.

This is the reason why mixt and lasci­vious Dancing hath been condemned, not only by the Primitive Fathers, but by almost all the Reformed Churches; nay the more serious sort of Papists look upon it as a thing intolerable a­mong Christians. He that will not wilfully blind his eyes, must necessary­ly see, that this mixt Dancing had its original from the Heathens, who Wor­shiped their Gods by such extravagant motions, and there are not a few pre­cepts in the Gospel, which forbid us to work the will of the Gentiles, and to live [Page 178] in the Flesh, to the lusts of Men, as St. Peter phrases it, 1 Pet. 4. 2, 3. And in­deed he that will impartially consider the extent of that Chambering and wantonness, St. Paul speaks against, Rom. 13. 13. must confess, that this mixt Dancing, as it is usually practised, is comprehended under it. To any man that reads the Scripture with at­tention and soberness, it will appear very evident, that nothing is pressed more by the Apostles, than gravity, modesty and great decency in our po­stures, actions, speeches, cloathing and behaviour; and how this mixt and jo­vial Dancing, is agreeable to all this, no sober man can easily imagine.

That this mixt Dancing, though not necessarily and naturally, yet for the most part through the vitiousness and corruption, that is in the generality of mankind, is an apparent occasion of lasciviousness and levity, and impurer lusts, and an incentive to effeminateness, pride and vanity, is a thing past con­troversie, and then sure Christianity can give no encouragement to it. The [Page 179] usual concomitants of this sport are drinking, foolish and frothy talk, and other immodest postures and actions, so that to plead for it, is to plead for an accumulation of sins and enormi­ties. And what doth this sport be­tray, but a weak, soft, easie, vain and empty mind? What snares are hereby laid for spectators to entertain evil and dangerous thoughts, which too often hurry them on to impurer enterprizes, and when so many Councils, Synods, and wise and learned men have appre­hended the danger of it, writ against it, preached against it, made it their business to enquire into the nature of it, and upon examination of its tenden­cies and consequences, have loth pub­lickly and privately represented it, as improper for Christians, and an enemy to that seriousness, which ought to be their essential Character; it must be either pride or stupidity, that makes men stubborn or careless under such censures. And is it probable, that people who never studied the point, or at the best, survey'd, and look'd into [Page 180] it negligently, should be so well able to judge of it, as those who upon weighing what can be said for and a­gainst it, have at last concluded and in­fer'd the undecency, and unlawful­ness of it?

The Romans when they were yet Heathens, counted Dancing a very dishonourable thing,Vid. P. Martyr. loc. com. class. 2. c. 11. and Salust tells us of Sempronia, that she was more than ordi­narily vers'd in Singing and Dancing, which, saith he, was more than became a grave and honest Matron; To this purpose Cicero affirms of a good man, that rather than dance before specta­tors, he would lose a very considerable Legacy; it was laid to Lucius Marae­na's charge, as a crime, that he had Danced when he was in Asia; and Ci­cero observes upon that passage, that no man sure would Dance, that was any way sober, it being the Quality of a Madman, and therefore among the er­rors, and misdemeanours, he objects against Anthony, he brings in Dancing [Page 181] for one. These were the thoughts of the Heathen Sages, before the flood­gates of debauchery were open'd, and while Rome retain'd somewhat of her ancient sobriety; and what witnesses will such Men be against Christians, who are taught to go beyond Heathens in gravity and sobriety?

What if this mixt and promiscuous Dancing, be not expresly forbid in Scripture? no more is the belief of Ma­homets riding upon his Alborach or white Steed to Heaven, no more is the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, and the Mass, and the Popes Triple Crown, Purgatory, and the Immaculate Concepti­on of the Virgin Mary; yet what seri­ous Protestants will infer therefore, that these are lawful Doctrines and Positions? It's enough, that there are such lessons set down there, which any rational Man may easily conclude to be inconsistent with such recreations. It's enough that the Apostle forbids all those things which the Greeks call [...], which signifies Feasting mixt with Dancing, Gal. 5. 21. we translate the [Page 182] word revelling, but it includes the ex­travagant action of mixt Dancing whereby lusts and vanities are kindle [...] or encouraged in the minds of men▪ and he asserts, that they that use such things, or delight in them, shall not in­herit the Kingdom of God.

Nor will it avail here to say, that if any lascivious and impure desires be raised by this mixt Dancing, Men and Women one with another, that this is only by accident, the thing it self may be harmless enough; for in things of Morality, and where Conscience is con­cern'd, we must not always take our measure by the nature of the thing, but very often by the humour and tem­per of sinful Men, that make use of it, as the learned Peter P. Mart. loc. cit. Martyr very well observes; for let's grant that here and there a sober Man may be found, who can with the greatest chastity of mind be both a spectator, and an actor of such promiscuous Dancings, but what becomes all this while of the multi­tude, and of the greatest part of Men [Page 183] and Women, which are present at such sports, who cannot, will not keep with­in bounds? so that in this case we are not to respect what may possibly be done, but what for the most part uses to be done; In things of a moral na­ture, we must not go to the very edge of that which is lawful, but keep within a considerable distance of it, for the nearer we come to the utmost bounds, the nearer we approach to that which is unlawful, which is the rea­son, why the Apostle bids us avoid the very appearance of evil, 1 Thess. 5. 22.

I do not deny, but Men may do worse, but what necessity is there for their doing that which is bad, to avoid that which is worse? Must I therefore slander and abuse a Man, because it is a less sin than to murther him?

I know such Doctrines are usually branded with the name of foolish pre­ciseness, but sure I am, they are a­greeable to that wisdom which is from above; and he that means to arrive to this wisdom, must of necessity become a fool, a fool in the eyes of World, [Page 184] and that must be a Christians greatest glory; for know ye not that the friend­ship of the World is enmity with God [...] whosoever therefore will be a friend of the World, is the enemy of God, Jam. 4. 4▪ upon which words An­tonius thus paraphrases▪ Summ. Part. 2. tit. 6. c. 6. ss. 3. ‘A friend of the World is he that loves the pomp, the lasciviousness, the pride and vain glory of the World, and h [...] that will please Men in things of this nature, things usually found in pro­miscuous Dancings, becomes an ene­my of God.’

Ludovicus Vives tells us of some poo [...] Indians, that were brought from th [...] farther parts of Asia, who seeing some of our Europeans Dancing together▪ wonder'd what madness and fury ha [...] possess'd them; indeed he that shoul [...] stand upon a Hill afar of, withou [...] hearing any Musick, and see people skip about, and sometimes beat th [...] Earth with their feet, sometimes li [...] themselves up into the Air, sometime [...] in such a posture, sometimes in ano­ther, [Page 185] could think no less, than that they were forsaken of their reason. I need not here alledge any examples of Men and Women, who have found by sad experience, what a sad Exit their Danc­ing and revelling hath had, how in the Ball, which Lodowick the design'd Arch-Bishop of Magdeburg gave his kindred and relations, the house fell upon the Dancers heads, and crush'd the Burge­master and his friends to death; nor how that vertuous Virgin in Famianus Strada was ra­vishedDe Bell. Belg. l. 1. in a Ball. The misfortune that befel John the Baptist through the jocular Dancing of Herodias, ought to fright devout persons from having any esteem and veneration for it; upon which pas­sage St. Chrysostom thus comments, ‘WhereHom. 49. in Matth. there is lascivious Dan­cing, there the Devil is always present; God hath not given us feet for Dancing, but to walk mo­destly, not to skip like Camels, but that we might be fit to stand one [Page 186] day in the Quire of Angels; If the body be deformed, or disfigured by such leaping, how much more the soul? such Dances make the Devil Dance, and this way men are cheated by the Ministers of darkness.’ It were endless to rehearse here, what Men of learning and wisdom have said a­gainst this sport; one passage out of Cornelius Agrippa may serve for all; ‘NothingDe vànit. scient. c. 18. can be more ridiculous than promiscuous Dan­cing; This lets loose the reins of wantonness, is a faithful friend to sin, the great incentive to uncleanness, an enemy to chastity, and a recreation unworthy of rational Men. Here many a Matron hath lost her honour. here many a Virgin hath learned that which she had better been totally ig­norant of; From hence many have come away worse than they were, but none better.’

12. Delight in seeing Stage-Plays must not be omitted here; and how far this delight may be allow'd of, and [Page 187] how far detested, I cannot shew you better, than by giving you the contents of a Letter, I formerly writ to a young Gentleman upon this Subject.

SIR,

THough you did pitch upon none of the best Casuists, when you sent your case to me; yet since you have thought fit to ask my opinion, whether it be lawful to go and see a Play, a thing our Gallants are so exceeding fond of, I must crave leave to tell you, that in the Primitive ages of the Church, such a question from one who professed himself a follower of the Holy Jesus, would have been looked upon with no very pleasant aspect, they supposing that eve­ry Christian, who knew, or was sensible into whose name he was Baptized, un­derstood, that things of this nature are as foreign to Christianity, as lascivious­ness and wantonness, and as contrary to the design of our noble Religion, which is to plant a Spiritual Life in us, as wal­lowing in voluptuousness or luxury.

But the Times are altered, and our [Page 188] Virtuosi have allowed of it, and what men in former ages scarce thought fit to be named among Christians, this hath made not only convenient, but in some respect necessary, and essential to a person of Quality; so that this Que­stion as the case stands, may with some justice be ask'd, and even a very sober person may now with some reason de­mand, whether there be any harm in be­holding these dramatick representati­ons? And here I would not be thought so rigid, or foolish rather, as if I believed no representation of History, or Mens a­ctions in the World lawful, for that would be directly contrary to Christ's own practice, who instituted a Sacra­ment to represent his death and passion by, and to keep up the remembrance of it to the Worlds end; and tho' this is not acting things to the Life, yet it at least imports so much, that something Histo­rical may be represented in lively and significant Characters, the manage­ment of which must be left to the pru­dence and discretion of sober Men.

But then these representations must [Page 189] be restrain'd altogether to vertue and goodness, and such accomplishments of the Soul, which the wisest & holiest Men in all ages, have been desirous and ambi­tious of; and though vertue cannot be well either discoursed of, or represented without its opposite vice, yet such is the nature of vice, such the unhappy conse­quences of it, that if either the pleasure, or ease, or prosperity and success of it be shewn and acted, tho' but for a few minutes, whatever Fate it ends in, it's so agreeable to the corrupted tempers of Men, that it leaves a pleasing impression behind it; nor is the after clap or doleful Exit of it, strong enough to prevent a liking or satisfaction, especially in the younger sort, who are generally more ta­ken with its present content and titillati­ons, than frighted with its dull and mud­dy conclusion; for while its present suc­cess, and sweetness is acting, the Cupid strikes the heart, and lays such a founda­tion there, as mocks all the death and ruine, it after some time doth end in; I doubt not, but the joys of Angels, and the triumphs of glorified souls might be [Page 190] acted to the life, and great good might issue from the gaudy Opera, and if ju­stice, patience, sobriety, humility, and contempt of the World, with all the gar­lands, and solid joys that attend them, were represented with their future re­compense, in a serious way, without jest­ing or raillery, not a few Men and Women might be signally edified by it, their af­fections raised above their ordinary level, and their courage kindled to press to­wards the noble prize; but then there must be nothing of the present amiable­ness of vice mingled with the Scenes, for tho' vice must almost necessarily be na­med in these living Landskips, yet it should be only named, and never named but with horror, and the generosity and grandure of vertue only acted to the life, for indeed nothing is fit for action, or i­mitated but vertue; vice should never appear but in its ugly▪shape, for if you dress it in its shining Robes, tho' it be but for a quarter▪ of an hour, such is the ve­nom of this Basilisk, it breaths a poison­ous vapour, both on the Actor and the Spectator, and while the one comes to [Page 191] see sport, and the other to get money both go away from the Theatre worse than they came; and tho' both come a­way laughing, yet both prepare for bit­ter mourning and lamentation.

I have shewn you what Drama's may be useful and commendable; but Sir, all this differs very much from the modern plays, the aforesaid question relates to, these being things fitted for vanity and luxury; for in these, though the punish­ment of vice, and rewards of vertue are represented to the life, yet it's done rather with advantage to the former, than to raise the credit of the latter, and the ef­fect shews it, viz. the corruption and debauchery of youth, and persons of all sorts and sizes, which I shall more large­ly speak of in the sequel.

The Plays we speak of, are suited to the loose humour of the age, which seems to hate all things that are serious, as much as Rats▪bane, & delights in nothing so much, as in jests and fooleries, and see­ing the most venerable things turned in­to ridicule: Here no play relishes but what is stuft with love tricks, and that [Page 192] which makes people laugh most, is the best written Comedy; wantonness is set out in its glittering garb, and the melting expressions that drop from its lips, are so charming to a carnal appetite, that the young lad wishes himself almost in the same passion and intrigue of Love, he sees Acted on the Stage, it looks so pleasant end ravishing.

Here Religion is too often traduced, and through the sides of Men that differ from our Church, the very foundation of Christianity is shaken and undermined; not but that Hypocrisie in Religion ought to be severely lash'd, but then it must be done in a grave, becoming and serious way; such as Christ and his Apostles u­sed against the painted Sepulchres, the Pharisees. The Stage hath that unhappy character, that it is looked upon by the generality, as the grand place of diver­tisement: Men come thither not to learn, but to be merry; and since acts of hypo­crisie look so very like acts of true Re­ligion, the danger is, that while you raille the counterfeit, you hurt the Ori­ginal, and while you dress the Image in [Page 193] a fools Coat, the substance suffers in the ridiculous representation.

So that here Men and Women are in­sensibly poison'd, and the good thing they see made aukward in an enemy, in time looks but odd and strange in a friend, and by degrees the vertue, is hated in good earnest, because one that was in the habit of an hypocrite, did practise it.

Here few sacred things are spared, if they serve to make up the Decorum of the Act, and Heathenism is reduced into Christian territories in a pleasant way. The Pagan Gods must make the Drama great, and while these are in all the Actors mouths, the licentious spectator in time applies that to the true, which the fond Poet ascribed to fictitious Deities. Here the supream Creator is too often reviled through the ill language that's given to Heathen Numens, and things that savour of real piety, rendred flat, insipid and im­pertinent; here all that may raise the Flesh into action and desire, is advanced, and whatever serves to lay reason asleep, and to exalt fancy and imagination, and [Page 194] the glory of the World, is made the pro­per object of admiration; Here all th [...] wanton looks and gestures, and posture [...] that be in the mode, are practised accord­ing to art; and you may remember, yo [...] have seen people when dismist from a Play, strive and labour to get that grace and antick meen, they saw in the Mimick on the Stage; Here men swear and curse, and actually imprecate themselves, and tho' they do it under the name of the person they act, yet their own tongue speaks their sin, & their body is the agent that commits it; and thus they damn themselves for a Man in imagination.

And are these things fit for a Christian to behold! a Christian who is to be a new Creature, a candidate of Eternity, an heir of Heaven, an Enemy to the World, a spiritual Prince, a King over his lusts, and Emperour over his carnal desires? Is this a sight agreeable to the strait way, and the narrow gate which leads to life? Can you, or any man reconcile such darkness with light, such Idols with the Temple of God? Is there any thing in the Gospel more plainly forbid, than con­forming [Page 195] to the World? and what can that prohibition import, if conformity to the World in beholding these danger­ous sights, be not in a great measure meant by it? We may put forced glosses upon the words, but doth not this look like the natural sense of them?

Holiness, for without it no man shall ever see the Lord, is the very Character of men, who name the name of Christ, if they bear not that name in vain; and will any man of sense be so bold, as to say, that Shews, which have so much sin in them, are suitable to that Holiness? We know who said, Turn away mine eyes from beholding Ps. 119. 47. Vanity; and who sees not that he who delights in such shews, neither dares pray that Prayer, nor can have any desire to imitate David in his holiness, for he is pleased with vanity, fixes his eyes upon it, makes it the pleasing object of his sight, and conse­quently instead of turning his eyes away from it, turns them to it, and would not for a World lose that pleasure.

If thy right Eye offend thee, pluck it out, [Page 196] and cast it from thee; for it is profitabl [...] for thee, that one of thy members shoul [...] perish, and not that thy whole body shoul [...] be cast into Hell; said he, who hath pro­tested, that not the least tittle or jota o [...] his words shall perish, Matth. 5. 29. If there be any sense in this passage, the meaning must necessarily be, that if the eye, or beholding an object, prove an occasion of evil, the eye must be so carefully, and so totally withdrawn from that object, as if it were actual­ly pluck'd out, or were of no use in the body; what an occasion of evil the beholding of such Scurrilous shews is, none can judge so well as he who takes notice, how by these sights, the horror which attended some sins, is taken off, and men are tempted to entertain a more favourable opinion of them; how apt upon these occasions they are to laugh at those sins which require rivers of tears, and to smile at the jest they hear, which deserves their most rigid censures; how natu­ral it is to be affected with these repre­sentations? and if there be any thing [Page 197] of evil in them, how readily is it imbi­ [...]ed, for if not imbibed, yet excused, if not totally excused, yet qualified, and construed as a thing of no great hurt, and thus its dreadfulness abates, and it's afterwards left out in the Cata­logue of errors.

God was either so jealous of his own glory, or so tender of the spiritual wel­fare of the Israelites, that he would not suffer them to take the names of the Heathen Exod. 23. 13. Gods in their mouths, nor suffer them familiarly to mention them, for fear their frequent naming of them should lessen their awful apprehensions of the supream Deity, or they be tem­pted through that familiarity, to think there was no great harm in worshiping of them; this was no ceremonial pre­cept, nor judicial: The substance is moral, and consequently cannot be sup­posed to be abolish'd by the death of Christ; and since God would not per­mit it to the Jews, how should he be supposed to give leave to Christians, of whom he requires greater strictness, to [Page 198] be lavish in such expressions? How i [...] our modern Plays in most addresse [...] wishes and imprecations, the Heathe [...] Deities are brought in, I need not t [...] you: The Actors indeed swear b [...] God in the singular number, but [...] their entire Harangues, or witty sen­tences or expressions, which they i [...] tend shall move most, the Gods ar [...] call'd in, and that's the grace [...] their part. If it be said that this [...] done out of a reverential respect t [...] the true God, who is too great to be mention'd in such trivial speeches 'tis soon replied, that it's a very mar­vellous thing, they should stand i [...] awe of the true God, and yet ma [...] nothing of swearing by him, and takin [...] his name in vain; and tho' they min [...] their Oaths sometimes, yet that do [...] not excuse the crime, as long as [...] shews their willingness to act it; b [...] the truth is, such men seek to tu [...] Religion again into Paganism, so th [...] style they use in their respectiv [...] speeches about things above, is fitte [...] for that purpose.

[Page 199]I know that it's commonly alledg­ed, that the stories which are Acted, relate to transactions among the Gen­tiles, and that it would be incongru­ous to represent their actions, and not to mention their Deities, or to speak in their language; but not to mention, that there is no necessity of representing passages of this nature, [...]here being as noble things among Christians, that deserve remembrance, why cannot the vertues of Pagans be represented without mentioning their Gods, or the sins and extrava­gancies of their Gods, whereby cor­rupted nature is so easily debauch'd into a mean opinion of the great So­vereign Being, and tempted to believe the powers above either subject to the same infirmities, that we are, or at [...]east not much displeased with our ir­regularities here below? He that makes bold with false Gods, does ve­ry easily slide into contempt of the true; and while men are brought in to dare the supposed Deities above, they'll be more ready to affront him, [Page 200] that is the same yesterday, to day, and fo [...] ­ever. Nor will it follow, becaus [...] Books that treat of Heathen God may be read, that therefore those Dei­ties may be Acted, and mentioned o [...] the Stage; for there is a great diffe­rence between reading a thing, an [...] seeing it acted with all the vanit [...] and boldness that usually attends i [...] In reading, a mans serious thought are not dispersed or scattered, bu [...] keep within the compass of modesty and weigh things in the ballance o [...] reason; whereas being Acted to th [...] life, they naturally strike vanity int [...] the mind, affect the sensual part, driv [...] away seriousness, and leave an unhap­py tincture behind them.

And if it be against the Divine Law familiarly to mention or talk of the [...] fictitious Deities, it cannot be very a­greeable to the sense of it, for Christ [...] ­ans to go and hear that idle talk; fo [...] as in other concerns the receiver is a [...] bad as the thief, so he that with deligh [...] hears that which another is forbid t [...] speak, makes himself accessory to h [...] [Page 201] sin, and draws needless guilt upon his Soul.

Flatter not your self, Sir, with a fan­cy, that these Plays are no where for­bid in the Bible, and that therefore it may be lawful to see them, for the word [...], Revelling, I mentioned be­fore, and to which the Apostle threat­ens exclusion from the Kingdom of Heaven, Gal. 5. 21. and from which the word Comedy in all probability is derived, though I know others fetch it from [...], a village, because in an­cient times, they did sing Songs about Country Towns, I say this word in­cludes all such vain, lascivious, Ludi­crous and Jocular representations, not only Dancing and luxu­rious▪ Feasting, butVid. Gerh. Joh. Voss. de Idol. l. 2. c. 8. wanton, light and amo­rous Interludes, and all that belongs to the pampering and satisfying of the Flesh, such as amorous Songs, Complement­ing of Mistresses, Love-tricks, and im­modest parts and speeches, which make the vainer sort of the company [Page 202] merry, for the word is very compre­hensive, and being so, one would think should fright every serious person from coming within the guilt of that, which hath so severe a threatning an­nex'd to it.

And is it worth losing Heaven, and eternal happiness for the sight of such jocular Shews? Are the pleasures a­rising from hence, of that consequence, that they will counter-ballance so great a loss? Had you rather forfeit Gods favour, than these ludicrous transacti­ons? Are these momentary satisfacti­ons of that value, that you would run the hazard of being for ever deprived of the beatifick vision for them? That usual exception, that God will not be so cruel, as to condemn Men for such harmless sports, is of no weight at all; for God hath no where declared, that he will govern himself by Mens fan­cies, but his eternal wisdom is the rule he'll go by; if men will have their pleasures, he hath thought fit to forbid, they must thank themselves, if they go without his favour; and [Page 203] since they were warned of this danger, they can have no excuse, but are as the Apostle speaks [...] con­demn'd of themselves, Tit. 3. 11.

Let's but consider the Nature, scope and drift of our Religion; it commands us decency, modesty, sobriety, vigilan­cy, or watchfulness over our thoughts and words, and actions, simplicity in the inward and outward man, redeem­ing the time, employing the hours God hath lent us, in profitable discour­ses, and things useful and tending to edification. It bids us abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; it condemns all Rioting, cham­bering, wantonness, and making pro­vision for the Flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof: It commands us to walk af­ter the Spirit, to be heavenly minded, to have the same mind and temper in us, which was also in Christ Jesus, to grow in grace, to advance in good­ness, to grow strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might; it bids us stand up for the glory of our God, and to be concern'd when his Name, [Page 204] or Religion, or things Sacred are abu­bused; it bids us avoid Scandal, and take heed we do not by our example either draw people into errors, o [...] confirm them in their sins; it bids us take heed of discouraging our neigh­bours from goodness, and of laying a [...] stumbling-block in the way of weak­er Christians; it bids us exhort one another daily, and beware lest any of us be hardned through the deceit­fulness of sin; these are some of its principal rules, and I need not add, what our great Master hath told us, ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you, Joh. 15. 14. how these rules can be observed by persons that delight in these shews, I cannot ap­prehend; is it modesty to be a hear­er of that ribaldry and filthy commu­nication, which some Plays are stuffed with? Or to be a spectator of so ma­ny undecent and wanton gestures, po­stures and actions, which in some Co­medies make up the greatest part of the shew? Is this sobriety, to stand by and hear men curse and swear, and [Page 205] talk of things which should not be so much as named among Christians? Is this decency to afford your presence in a place, where the most debauched persons assemble themselves for ill ends and purposes? Is this your fear of God to go and hear the most solemn ordinances of God railled, and under­valued, such as marriage, and living up to the strict rules of reason and conscience? Is this your watchfulness over your thoughts and words, and actions, to go and expose your selves to temptations, to run into the De­vils arms, and give him an opportu­nity to incline your heart to sinful de­lights, and being pleased with things which God abhors? Is this that God­ly simplicity, the Gospel presses, to pay for your being affected with the vain shews of this sinful World, and to take liberty to hear and see, what men of little or no Religion shall think fit to represent to you? Is this redeeming of your time to throw away so many hours upon fooling, and seeing mens ridiculous postures, gestures and behaviours?

Is not this making war against you [...] soul? Is not this fighting against you [...] happiness? Is this the way to gro [...] in grace, and to advance in goodness and to abound more and more in the love of God, which your Christiani­ty obliges you to? Is not this to clo [...] your soul? Is not this to throw impe­diments in her way to felicity? Is not this the way to make her ina­mour'd with the World, from which a Christian is to run away, as much as he can? By your Saviours rule though you are in the World, yet you are not to be of the World; These shews alienate other mens affections from the best of objects, and what se­curity have you, that they will not a­lienate yours? Or have you a peculiar exemption from that danger? If you have, shew us your warrant, let's see your patent; if you take the same way that profane persons take, to dull their religious desires, how can it be otherwise, but it will have the same effect in you? if you use the same means, why should you not fear the [Page 207] same unhappy influence? Why should you shut your eyes against a thing as clear as the Sun? Do not you see, do not you perceive, how sin grows upon you by frequenting these places? Do not you find, how under these shews, the brutish part in you grows strong and vigorous, how the Flesh distends its plumes, grows easie and pleased, and in time engrosses all the nobler faculties of your Soul? As you are a Christian, you are to bring your Flesh into subjection, and to keep under your Body; and do not these shews sig­nally help towards its power and do­minion over the nobler part, and pro­mote its Soveraignity, and triumph o­ver the reasonable appetite? what pampers it more than such sights? What feeds its preposterous longings more than these? Do not these evi­dently make this Slave usurp Autho­rity over her Mistress? And is this fit to be done by Christians, who are to crucifie the Flesh with its lusts and af­fections?

Who sees not, that these sights are meer incentives to lust, and fewel to feed the impurer fire in our breasts? And is this to walk after the Spirit, as we are commanded? If they that walk after the Flesh cannot please God, how can you hope to please him, while you allow your self in this work of the Flesh? Is this to promote a lively sense of God? Is the Stage likely to pro­duce vigorous apprehensions of Gods grace and favour? you know it damps and obscures them, you know it is an Enemy to them, you know it is the worm that hinders you Spiritual growth, and yet will you fancy a ne­cessity to frequent it? Men may count it necessary to be drunk, and to kill a person they do hate, but will this ne­cessity hold water when the great Judge comes to examine it? The Flesh may count that necessary, which rea­son apprehends to be absurd, and im­pious, and he that hearkens to the dictates of the brute within him, will call any thing necessary, though ne­ver so contradictory to the Oracles of [Page 209] Heaven, and the lessons of our great Master Jesus? Is this to have the same mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus? I hope you do not question the duty, and if you believe it incum­bent upon you, can you imagin, that in frequenting the Stage, you imi­tate his example? Did he ever en­courage such empty things? Is there any thing in all the History of his life, that may be said to countenance such doings? Could he applaud these follies, do you think, whose life was a perfect pattern of holiness, nay, are not all his precepts levell'd against these scurrilities? Is it possible to live up to his precepts, and feed our eyes with these Shews? Is it possible to be his friend, and a friend to these vani­ties? He whose life was a perpetual selfdenial in the pleasures of this life, could he give the least colour, or sha­dow of approbation of them? He who preached up the Doctrin of the Cross, could he have any liking to that, which is directly contrary to that Doctrin? Would any man that looks [Page 210] upon the jolly assembly in a Play­house, think that these are Disciples of the crucified God? Do they not look liker Mahomet's Votaries, or Epicurus his Followers? Would not one think that they had never heard of the Cross, and that whoever their Master was, they were disciplined on­ly to live merrily? Would not one think that these persons are very dif­ferent in their tempers from those Christians, the primitive Fathers do describe, who trampled on the World, and were afraid of any thing that fa­voured of its satisfactions? Would not one think, that they are rather disciples of some Heathen, Jupiter, or Venus, or Flora, or some such wanton Minion, than of the grave, the au­stere, and the serious Jesus, for such he would have his followers to be, these he would have tread in his steps; th [...]se he would have known by acti­ons, and a behaviour like his own, and is a Play likely to plant this no­ble temper in you? Is the sight of a Comedy a probable means to make [Page 211] you live above the World? are the profane railleries that are used there, fit preparatives for austerity of con­versation? Is this the way to pro­mote gravity, to visit the Stage, where all gravity is look'd upon as Pedantry, and traduced as a thing proper only for old Usurers, and Wo­men who are past their sins and vices? Is this the way to advance serious­ness, to be much at places, where se­riousness is censured as a trick of Di­vines, or at the best, as an effect of vapours, and the natural result of melancholy and the spleen? As a Christian, you are to shun the very appearances of evil, and is this your obedience, to delight in that which is evil, to applaud it with your smiles, to commend it with your tongue, and to encourage it by your presence?

As a Christian, you are the Salt of the Earth, and conse­quently are to preserveMatt. 5. 13. your Neighbour from corruption; and is this the way to pre­serve him from infection, by your pre­sence [Page 212] in such places, and being as vain as he, to encourage not only the actors in their unlawful profession, but the spectators too in their disobedience to the Gospel? And what is this, but to make your self a Proctor to sin, to help people to be undone, to assist them in going to Hell, and to make your self accessary to their folly?

Are these the Christians, that are to help one another to Heaven? Are these the Christians, that are to go hand in hand together, to Gods ever­lasting Kingdom? Are these the lights, the shining, the burning lights, that are to light the ignorant Brother to the inheritance of the Saints in light? Is not this to be blind to the great design of the Gospel? And if the blind lead the blind, shall not they both fall into the pit?

Wo to that man by whom the offence cometh; it had been better for him, that a Mill stone were hang'd about his neck, and he drown'd in the midst of the Sea, saith our great Master, Matth. 18. 6. Does not this threatning fright you? [Page 213] Doth this put no sad thoughts into your mind? Do you believe he spoke true? And do not you think you are concern'd? What is your going to a Play-house, but giving Offence? What is it but hardning other men in their sins? Is not this tempting young people to those extravagancies they should detest? Is not this justi­fying the Players profession, and to make them think that you approve of their ludicrous vocations? Their pro­fession is infamous by our Law, which looks upon them, as persons of no ho­nest calling; and if you go to see their actings, and to see how they prostitute themselves, doth not this look like a commendation of their un­dertakings? And have not you sins enough of your own to answer for, but you must transfer other mens upon you too? Are you afraid, Gods an­ger to you will not be great enough, except you add your Neighbours of­fences, to make his wrath the hea­vier? All those persons of your ac­quaintance that go to a Play, because [Page 214] you do, are all Scandalized by your ex­ample; and is not this putting a stumbling-block in your Neighbours way, especially if people believe that you have some goodness in you, or have a name that you are Religious, how bold doth this make other per­sons to venture on these vanities? And how dreadful must this make your account? Either you do not think much of another World, or if you do, you cannot but conclude, that these things will lie very heavy upon your conscience one day? What if you do not think it to be sin, will your think­ing so excuse you? Willful ignorance is as bad as a known sin, and how ea­sily might you know such doings to be sinful? But being unwilling to be better informed, judge you, whether it will not agravate your Condemna­tion? how could the Primitive Chri­stians, know these things to be sinful? And is it not possible for you to know it? They had the Bible; so have you: They had the same precepts that you have, only they did not read [Page 215] the Scripture so superficially, as per­haps you do, and that was the reason why they came to the knowledge of this sin, while you halt betwixt two opinions; Their affections did not lean and bend so much to the the World as perhaps yours do, and therefore they might easily perceive Christ's and the Apostles meaning, while you, who dote too much upon these outward things, have a cloud or mist before your eyes, that you cannot discern the sense of the Holy Ghost.

Your present divertisements may hide the guilt from your sight, but when the Summons of a terrible God to appear at his bar, shall rouze your Conscience one day, you'll be of ano­thermind.

How? Did Christ come down from Heaven and die, and spill his blood for you, that you might securely in­dulge your carnal Genius? Did he sacrifice himself for you, that you might please your self with such foole­ries? Hath he appeased the Almigh­ties [Page 216] wrath for you, that you might spend your time in a Theatre? Is this a proper end of the mighty purchase he hath made? Did such phantastick actions deserve so great a condescen­sion? Is it likely that he would have astonish'd all the Angels of Heaven with his descent into this valley of tears, if this security in carnal satis­factions had been his design? One would rather think, that so deep a hu­miliation called for the greatest seve­rities, and was shewn on purpose to engage poor mortals to the profound­est acknowledgments of his favour; One would think, that such miracles of charity challenged a most serious behaviour, and that after this, men should not dare to think of trivial and impertinent things; This is more likely to be the end of his Incarnation and Suffering, than the other. To de­light in such vanities is a disparage­ment to his love, a blemish to his cha­rity, a disgrace to his condescension, and an undervaluing of so great a mercy; And do you thus reward [Page 217] him? Do you thus requite his kind­ness? Is this the return you make him for his sweat and agonies, for his sighs and groans, for his pains and all his labours? Did he bleed, that you might grow strong in sin? Did he die, that you might cherish the lusts of the Flesh? Did he make himself of no reputation, that you might please your self with divertisements, inven­ted only to affront him, and to ren­der his endeavours to convert our souls ineffectual.

Have not you observed it? Have not you taken notice, how men and women, who have had some zeal for Religion, and very pious inclinations, how that zeal hath decreas'd upon their frequenting these Houses, how their goodness hath decay'd, how flat they are grown in Devotion, how weak in their Holy Performances? how dull in the work of Meditation? how slovenly and superficial in Gods service? may be, they have kept up some outward shews, some external formality, some earnestness for the [Page 218] fringes of Religion, or for the ceremo­nial part of Christianity; But have not you seen, how they are become strangers to that life, which must a­dorn it, to that contemplation of good things, they formerly delighted in, to that strictness they once professed? Have not you seen how they have re­mitted in their warmth, and how the holy fire that once burn'd in their breasts is gone out? And is your Chri­stianity so fierce and violent, that it needs a bridle? Is it so hot, that it must have an extinguisher? Is it so flaming that it wants this stolen water to quench it?

With what face dare you approach the Table of your Lord, who have been a spectator of such shews but a little before? With what eyes can you appear in the presence of that King of Kings, who have but a little be­fore prostituted your Soul to the De­vil? With what conscience can you promise the Lord Jesus to follow him, when you intend to expose your self again to these temptations? Do not [Page 219] you blush to think, how you serve both God and Mammon, Christ and the World, contrary to your Redeem­ers protestation, that you cannot serve two Masters? If you come to the Lords Table one day, and run to a Play-house another, do not you de­stroy all that you built the day before? If you come to the Supper of the Lord there to profess your sorrow for loving the World; are you in good earnest sorry for it, or are you not? If not, why do you play the hypocrite, or do you think to put a cheat upon the Almighty, as if he did not see your heart, or would be taken with shew and pomp? If you are, how can you run into the same temptation again, or go to a place where you will infal­libly be tempted to the love of the World? Is not this to shut the gates of mercy against you? Is not this to make your self odious to that God whose favour you expect in the last day? Is not this to live in contradicti­ons? In this Sacrament you profess to imitate your Lord in despising the [Page 220] World, and is this imitation, to go one day into the house of God, and the next into a den of Thieves; for so the Stage may justly be called, where men are robb'd of their rellish of spiritual objects.

Whence hath come that Atheism, that looseness, that indifferency in things Divine, that low esteem of the tremendous mysteries of Christianity, which of late like a Land-flood hath over run us? Have they not deriv'd their boldness from these places? Have not the vices represented there in jest, been practised by the forward youth at home in good earnest? And can a Christian have a good opinion of these houses, where so many have lost their vertue? Can any man of reason think, that after all this mischief, they may be safely hugg'd and applauded? Those many notorious Fornications and Adulteries we have heard, and know of, those bare-faced cheats, mens boastings of their sins, and glo­rying in their shame, their impudence their courage to do evil, their daring [Page 221] to do things which sober Heathens have detested, whence have they come in a great measure, but from these poison'd fountains? Why should we be afraid to call a spade, a spade? Do not even wicked men confess so much, men who have been guilty of such crimes? Shall men of no great sense of Religion complain of it, and shall a Christian do any thing, that may contribute toward the holding of them up?

If wanton, lustful, and obscene jests are expreslyEphes. 5. 4. forbid by the great Apo­stle, nay, are not so much as to be named among Christians, how can a man that makes profession of that Religion, hear them, or be taken with them, when Gods name is profaned in such houses? when Religion is mock'd? when vertue is rendred odi­ous? how can you hear it without re­proving the men that do it? how can you have patience to let them talk at this rate? you are bound by your pro­fession to rebuke your neighbour for [Page 222] notorious sins, and not to suffer ini­quity upon him; can you hear these things, and see men affront their Ma­ker, and be possess'd with a dumb Devil? How can you discharge your conscience, to let your neighbour do evil without giving him an Item of Gods displeasure? If we are to exhort one another to take heed, lest any of us be harden'd through the deceitful­ness of sin, how can you see men har­den themselves in their sins on the Stage, without a fraternal admoniti­on? If you have no courage to admo­nish them, what makes you appear there where you must be silent under the indignities offered to your Master? Had you a Friend whom you loved, and saw his concerns in danger, his reputation attack'd, his credit torn, his good name wounded, would not you stand up in his vindication? You own Christ for your Friend, and profess you love him, and can you see his laws trampled on, and his blood and wounds made a complement of Speech, and not be moved at it? or if [Page 223] you have some little regret upon your spirits, where is your tongue to speak for your friend? Do you think such men are like to be his favorites? and is not this to fall under the lash of that threatning, Whosoever shall be ashamed of me Mar. 8. 38. and of my Gospel, in this adulterous and sinful Generation, of him shall the son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father; since you have not spirit enough to reprove such sinners, why do not you stay away? why do not you keep out of their com­pany? you are obliged to do either one or the other, if you cherish any hopes of salvation; and since to reprove them you are ashamed, staying away must necessarily be your duty.

Do you ever examine your self at night about the actions of the day? and if you do, doth not your presence at such shews, and your being pleased with them, fly into your face? Do not you think, what have I done to day? how did I spend my time, might not I have spent it better, than at a Play­house? [Page 224] How many persons have I har­den'd, and confirm'd in their sins by my example? How much lightness and va­nity have I encouraged by my presence? hath not such a sin been pleasing to me? Have not I been delighted with seeing my neighbour abus'd? Have not I been tickled with mens speaking ill of him? Had God struck me dead in that place, how sad would my condition have been? How many vain and foolish thoughts have these sights sent into my mind? If you examine your self in this man­ner and find these effects, have not you reason to ask God forgiveness? and if you ask him forgiveness, how dare you run upon the same rock a­gain? will you sin wilfully after this? will you sin against your knowledge, will you do that again, which will re­quire a new repentance? what is this but a mock-repentance, to go on in a circle of confessing and sinning, of sin­ning and confessing?

But I doubt, this self-examination is a thing you do not trouble your head with, and you shun it, as men do [Page 225] their Creditors that dun them; you are afraid it will fill your head with scruples, and therefore avoid it, as those who are unwilling to look into their accounts, that they may not be surpriz'd with the sum they owe; if visiting the Stage makes you neglect this self-examination, it makes you neg­lect a known duty; and if so, it must be sinful, and if sinful, how dare you meddle with it?

Do but take a view of the writings of the Primitive Fathers, and you'll find them unanimous in this assertion, that in our Baptism, when we re­nounce the Devil and his works, and the pomp and glory of the World, we do particularly renounce Stage-Plays, and such ludicrous representations. They that lived nearest to the Aposto­lical times, in all probability knew, what was meant by this renunciati­on, and this they profess to be the sense of it, this they assure us is meant by those pomps and glories, and why should we presume to put a new sense upon that vow? They received [Page 226] this interpretation from the Apostles, and propagated it to posterity, and in this sense we make the Abju­ration.

Sir, Have you abjured these things in your Baptism, and dare you venture on them? Have you renounced them, and dare you fall in love with them? Have you protested in the presence of God and Angels, that you will not meddle with them, and will you break your vow? Have you solemnly pro­fessed before the Congregation, that you will not have any affection for them, and do you make nothing of perfidiousness? How darest thou O Christi­an, Salvian. de gubern. Dei. lib. 6. run into a Play­house after Baptism, saith Salvian, when thou hast confessed those very Plays to be the works of the Devil? Thou hast renounced the Devil and these Stage-Plays, so that if thou willingly and wittingly frequentest them, it's evident that thou returnest to the Devil too, for thou hast renounced both, and hast professed both to be one, so that [Page 227] if thou return to one, thou returnest to both.

I know what is commonly objected, that the reason why the Fathers are so much against Christians seeing of a Play, was, because the heathenish idolatries were acted to the life upon the Stage, and that proselytes might not be in danger of being enticed to idolatry, was the great motive, why they inveigh'd so much against sighes of that nature; but those that use this plea, most certainly have not read the Fathers, or if they have read them, have not considered all their arguments; for to go no farther than Tertullian, after he had con­demn'd these sights for theTertul. de spect. idolatries committed on the Stage, he produces other reasons for which they are utterly un­lawful; as 1. Because the spirit of the Gospel, is a spirit of gentleness, but the actors are forced to put them­selves into a posture of wrath and anger, and fury, andc. 15. the spectators themselves can- [Page 228] not behold them without being put into a passion.

2. Because vanity, which is proper to the Stage, is alto­getherc. 15. c. 15. c. 16. foreign to Christianity. 3. Because we are not to con­sent to peoples sins. 4. Because men are abused in these places, and neither Princes nor People spared, and this being unlawful else­where, must be unlawful too upon the Stage. 5. Because all im­modesty and scurrility is for­bidc. 17. by the Law of the Gospel, not only acting of it, but seeing and hearing it Acted. 6. Because all Players are hypocrites,c. 23. seem to be what they are not, and all hypocrisie is condemn'd by the Gospel. 7. Because the Act­ors very often belie their Sex,c. 23. and put on womens apparel, which is forbid by the law of God. 8. Because these plays dull and damp devotion and se­riousness,c. 25. which is and ought to be the indeleble character of Chri­stians. [Page 229] 9. Because it is a di­sparagement to God to liftc. 25. up those hands to applaud a Player, which we use to lift up to the Throne of Grace. 10. Because experience shews,c. 26. how the Devil hath sometimes possess'd Christians in a Play-house, and being afterwards cast out, con­fest, that he had reason to enter into them, because he found them in his own place. 11. Because no man can serve two Masters,c. 26. God and the World, as those Christians pretend to do, that fre­quent both the Church and the Stage. 12. Because though some speeches in a Play are wittyc. 27. and ingenious, yet there is poison at the bottom, and vice is on­ly coloured, and gilded with fine language, and curious emblems, that it may go down more glib, and ruin the soul more artificially.

These are some of Tertullians Ar­guments, and he that shall attentive­ly consider them, will easily find that [Page 230] they are not only applicable to such Comedies where idolatry is acted, but to those of this age, where scur­rility, vanity and immodesty, and o­ther vices are incouraged; and where­as some pretended, that if they saw no Plays, they should want sport, and be without necessary recreation, the learned Presbyter doth very hand­somly reply; Why art thou so abominably ungrateful, to com­plain c. 29. of want of recreation, when God hath given thee such great va­riety of pleasures? for what can be more pleasant, than to be reconciled to God the Father, and the knowledge of the truth, our deliverance from darkness and error, and a free pardon of all our sins? what greater pleasure can there be, than the loathing of carnal pleasure, con­tempt of the World, true Christian li­berty, a conscience void of offence, a spotless life, freedom from the fear of death, trampling on the Heathen Gods, expulsion of Devils, the gift of healing; prayer for illumination, and living to Gods glory? These are the pleasures, [Page 231] these are the Plays of Christians, holy, free and perpetual; in such things as these, fancy thou seest a Play; here see the course of the World, behold the gliding Time, view the distance be­twixt this life and eternity, expect the consummation of all things, defend the Church, rouze thy self at Gods signal, listen to the Arch angels trumpet, glory in the Martyrs laurels; If learning and knowledge do delight thee, behold in the Scripture there are verses enough, witty sentences enough, songs enough, and voices enough; no fables of Poets, but solid truths; no sophistry, but majestick simplicity; wouldst thou see Gladiators and Wrestlers, here thou hast them, here thou mayst see lasciviousness overcome by chastity, perjury by faithfulness, cruelty by mercy, wantonness by modesty, and these are our Olympick games, in which he is Crown'd that strives for mastery; Dost thou love to see blood drawn in a publick shew? Behold thou hast the blood of Jesus; and what a noble sight will shortly appear to our eyes, even the coming of our glorious Lord, the exul­tation [Page 232] of Angels, the Resurrection of his holy ones, the stately Kingdom of believing Souls, and the sight of the new Jerusalem! There is another shew be­hind, even the last day of Judgment, a day unlook'd for, a day despised by fools, a day wherein the old world will be swal­lowed up of fire! How glorious a sight will that be, when I shall behold with a­stonishment and joy, so many Kings, whom their flatterers placed among the Stars, sighing in outward darkness with Jupiter, and their parasites? So many Persecutors of the Christian name melt­ing in insulting flames! So many Philo­sophers with their Disciples, who gave out, that God was careless of the af­fairs of this lower World, trembling be­fore Christ's Tribunal! At that time I shall know Tragoedians by their loud cry in misery, Stage players by their being tormented by fire more than other men, the Charioteers in the publick Games, by their being red upon a flaming wheel, and the Mimick by his being tossed in sheets of fire. Thus far that excellent man, whom St. Cyprian exactly imi­tates. [Page 233] And certainly he that hath the same sense of Religion that he had, cannot but be of the same opini­on. So that it is for want of searching, and diving into the Nature of Christi­anity, and what is more, for want of feeling the power of Religion, that makes men speak in vindication of Plays and Interludes.

What a pitiful shift is it to say, that great good may be gained by them, when it is plain that the evil which ensues upon them, doth signally pre­ponderate and out-weigh the pretend­ed Benefit? What if a moral Saying, or a witty Sentence, or an ingenious Apothegm lie scattered here and there among the Rubbish, will that grain of goodness counter-ballance a whole ta­lent of ill that's seen there, or got by seeing it? Some have been so vain, as to give out, that they may learn as much by a Play as by a Sermon; but not to mention, that such persons spi­ritual Appetite is extreamly vitiated, while they continue in this Opinion, they'l never be much edified, either [Page 234] by a Play or a Sermon; and till they have a nobler Opinion of Gods Ordi­nance, it's just with God to suffer the Devil to lead them captive at his will. And what are the mighty Advantages men get by the Representations of the Stage? May be they learn to Court a Mistress well, or the vanities they see there, serve them to maintain a loose Discourse, or it enables them to make the company merry; but are these things that tend to reformation of Life and Manners? Who ever learned to abandon a Sin he is addicted to, by seeing its punishment on the Stage? Or who ever thought himself obliged to practise that Virtue which he sees Acted on the Theatre, except it be, to resent an Affront that's offer'd him, and to know how to maintain the Punctilio's of Honour and Bravery? And are these Christian Virtues? Are these the Graces that must make us glorious in the sight of God? Such Arguments are signs of a desperate Cause, and tacit accusations of the illness of the thing, since the Aprons [Page 235] that cover it are made of Fig leaves.

And what if some Plays be more innocent, and not so prophane as o­thers; if I go to one, doth not my ex­ample encourage men to go and see those which are more loose and wan­ton? If I mean to discourage Sin in others by my Actions, I must not give them occasion to do that which is evil: Sensual men distinguish not betwixt the more harmless and the more hurt­ful; and if I encourage the one by my presence, I encourage the other too; and if by my example I approve of the Players Profession in one thing, I ap­prove of it in another too, and harden them in their Folly; not to mention, that my seeing the more harmless, as I call them, will in time entice me to see the more prophane; for Sin is catch­ing, and one Vanity draws on another, and from the lesser we run to greater, and when the horror of Sin is once aba­ted in our minds, the things which are most contrary to Christianity, be­gin to appear harmless, and thus the Soul glides insensibly into darkness and eternal misery.

[Page 236]That which you use to pretend some­times, that there are Divines of the Church of England, who approve o [...] these Shews, hath nothing of validity in it; for suppose there were some▪ who allow of these Vanities, doth i [...] therefore follow, that the Church of England doth encourage them? The Opinions of some Divines are not the Standard of our Church, nor are the private Sentiments of a few Men Pre­scriptions for her to go by.

The Church of England hath no where declared so much, and as long as the Church is silent, it's presump­tion to interpret the fond opinions of some men, as her Rule and Doctrin. How can our Church countenance such things, that professes strict adhe­rence to the Word of God, and looks upon the judgments of men, that are contrary to it, as Heterodox and Er­roneous? At this rate you might as well argue, that because some Divines have been seen at a Play, that there­fore they have encouragement from the Doctrin of our Church. The Do­ctrin [Page 237] of a Church is one thing, and the practice of some of her pretended members is another. The Churches case would be very hard, if she were to answer for all the misdemeanours of her seeming Votaries; and who knows not, how in all Churches the professors generally deviate from the rules that are extant in their Books and Canons?

But after all, it's worth enquiring, whether those Divines you speak of be of the graver, or the younger sort; that some young men who want expe­rience, and perhaps a lively sense of Religion, should be taken with these shews, I do not wonder; but who takes a raw youth, and such as think any thing great and good, that's wit­ty, and serves to tickle the fancy, who takes such men for judges in an affair of this importance? As to the graver sort, I doubt you'll find none, or but very few, that are favourers of these spectacles, or if they do declare at any time, that if Plays were redu­ced to their true decorum, they might [Page 238] be inoffensive, from hence it will not follow, that they countenance the common Tragedies and Comedies, which so manifestly go beyond the limits of decency.

And what if you do go but now and then, Doth your going but seldom ju­stifie the action? All that this excuse will amount to, is only this, that you do not sin so often as other men; but doth this free you from the guilt, or make you innocent in the sight of God? How would you take it, if a man should give you a box on the ear but now and then? Or how would you resent it, to have your good name taken away by a person, not always, but whenever his humour prompts him? And from hence you may easily guess at the weakness of this excepti­on, and if you have that mean opini­on of God, that low esteem of his greatness, as to think, that to affront him but now and then can do no harm, you are unworthy to be his Disciple, and judge your self unwor­thy of Eternal Life.

[Page 239]But I am forced to go, you say, my Superiours command me to wait upon them to a Play, and how can I refuse it, except I will lose their favour, and the Place I hold under them? And is this such a Bug-bear to fright you from your duty? To whom have you greater obligations, to God or Man? If to God, why dare not you prefer his favour before the favour of Men, and be guided more by his Laws, than by the benevolence of dust and ashes? Have not you courage to make a vow, and when you are solicited by your Superiours to go, cannot you speak out, and tell them, that you lie under the obligation of a vow not to go, and who will be so profane, as to desire you to break it? Had you rather sin than displease Men, or is a poor Crea­ture more terrible to you, than he who thunders in the Heavens? If you are perswaded in your conscience, that to be present at these shews is sinful, shall a creatures smiles make you ven­ture the displeasure of the most High? And what if you lose something con­siderable [Page 240] by pleasing God? Hath God no ways to make you amends for your losses? Hath he no Glory, no King­dom, no reward, no recompence to redintegrate your fortune? If you lose this World for his sake, is not the fe­licity of the next recompence enough? But why should you mistrust him even in this present life? He that made Moses after he had left the Court of Egypt, General of his own Army and advanced Joseph, who hated to be great and rich by sin, to be Viceroy of the Realm, and preserved Daniel in his grandeur for this reason, because he would not depart from his consci­enciousness; is his arm shortned or is his strength abated, that he can do nothing equivalent to all this? Are not the hearts of men in his hand, and doth not he turn them as streams of Water? How often doth he make it appear to the World, that where a mans ways please the Lord, he makes his very enemies to be at peace with him? Nay how often do these generous self-denials work by Gods [Page 241] providence upon Superiours, and they that at first sollicited a man to do that which was vain, and contrary to the Laws of Religion, when they see him resolute in his conscienciousness, how often have they been perswaded to re­flect upon themselves, at least to have a better opinion of the person who fears God more than them?

What you have often told me, that from this way of reasoning it would follow, that it is unlawful to write or to read a Play, will deserve some con­sideration: As for the writing of it, though Poetry be a thing lawful and commendable, and is sufficiently war­ranted by the writers of Divine Poems in Holy writ, yet that will not justi­fie all the subjects, Poets pitch upon, and a consciencious man will take as much care, that the subject he writes of, be grave and serious, at least inno­cent, as he would do of his discourse in common conversation.

I do not doubt, but that writing things obscene and filthy, and unde­cent, and contrary to good manners, [Page 242] and whereby others may be scandaliz­ed, and either drawn into sin, or har­den'd in it, is as bad as speaking of them. Without all peradventure a man may be witty without being pro­fane, and exercise his fancy to the edification of readers, without launch­ing out into things, at which Nature and Religion teaches us to blush; and I need only put you in mind of what the incomparable Mr. Cowley saith, in his Preface to his works, speaking of the admirable subjects that the Scrip­ture affords for the exercise of Wit and Poetry; It is not without grief, saith he, and indignation, that I behold that Di­vine science employing all her inexhausti­ble riches of wit and eloquence, either in the wicked and beggarly flattery of great persons, or the unmanly idolizing of foolish Women, or the wretched affecta­tion of scurril laughter, or at best on the confused and antiquated dreams of senseless fables, and meta­morphoses.

As for reading of modern Plays, he that considers what an aversion from [Page 243] seriousness, and better things, the reading of them causes in the younger sort, will find no great reason to en­courage them in such trifles, but ra­ther to disswade them all he can from studies of this nature; and though I believe that a grave, serious man, whose senses are throughly exercised to discern betwixt good and evil, may lawfully peruse them, to see the hu­mour of the Age, and to know how to obviate and confute the debauche­ries, and errors which are growing, and tending to the ruin of good man­ners, as skillful Physitians may med­dle with poison, to make antidotes of it; yet to persons whose understand­ings are slippery and weak, whose passions are stronger than their reason, and who have already too great a tincture of sensuality, and consequent­ly may easily encrease the ill humour by such divertisements, they ought to be debarr'd from them by those, who have the care of their education.

[Page 244]These Sir, are my thoughts of the Query you proposed to me, and tho' the Letter be somewhat long, yet I hope the arguments I have laid down, are not impertinent; That they are liable to exceptions, I question not, being sensible that it's easier to cavil, than to answer, and where men are resolved to maintain the vain humour, they have imbibed from conversation, they will always have something to say against the most sober truths and assertions. The drift and design of the Gospel is certainly on our side; if any be fond of preferring the di­ctates of flesh and blood, or the sug­gestions of the world, before the mor­tifying lessons of our crucified Re­deemer, all that we can say is this, that we would have healed Babylon, but she would not be healed.

I shall only add my wishes and prayers, that what you have read here, may be a means to bring you to a noble sense of a better World, and convince you, that the way to attain a future bliss, is very different from [Page 245] that, which leads to sensual delights and satisfactions: Our natures are ge­nerally too prone to gratifie the flesh, and we had not need add fewel to the fire, but to do all we can to quench that, which is already kindled, that after our self denials here, we may reign with the self-denying Jesus, with whom we cannot live hereafter, except we suffer with him here, and endure the loss of the pleasures of sin for a season; nor sit with him in his Throne, except we continue with him in his temptations here. And I am perswaded, that did you live more in Heaven, and gave your self time to meditate on the things which are not seen; Did you incorporate those ever­lasting joys with your mind, and rivet­ed the belief of that endless bliss into your very spirits, that your faith might be the substance of things unseen, and the evidence of the treasures hoped for, you would despise these shews and glories of the world, as much as you do value and esteem them now, and would be so far from stopping your [Page 246] ears against the reasons I have given, that you would study and invent more, to controll the vulgar errors of man­kind.

Get but once a true rellish of spiri­tual things, and you will look be­tween anger and scorn on these trivial objects, admired by the vul­gar. And why should not you raise your soul above the bubbles of external pomp? whatever diffi­culty there may be in the attempt, the fruit that grows on the Tree at last, will sufficiently recompence your labour. Our Souls are active or unactive, according as we take pains with them, and though there be some irksomness in swimming against the stream of carnal incli­nations, yet if the Hill be once conquered, the serene Air that is on the top of it, the gentle Gales, the glorious Sun-shine, the sweetness of Rest, that crowns all the Hardships, will make you bless the day that you begun to mind the things which belong unto your Peace. And [Page 247] that you may do so, is the unfeigned Desire of,

SIR,
Your daily Orator at the Throne of Mercy, &c.

And having hitherto discoursed of the Nature of sensual Delights and Re­creations, and how far a Christian is bound to deny himself in them upon the account of a future Judgment; to compleat these Meditations, it will be necessary to draw some useful Inferen­ces from the Premises.

INFERENCES.

1. This clears what the Wise Man says, Eccles. 7. 2. That 'tis better to go to the House of Mourning, than to the House of Feasting. So sad a Prospect, as that of a future Judgment is, one would think, were enough to hush all [Page 248] Mirth and Jollity whatsoever; how­ever, we may rationally conclude, that it's enough to turn the Byass, and make the Soul have less Affection for Mirth, than Sorrow and Severity of Behavi­our. The antient Heathens make use of this Apologue; Sorrow and Mirth presented themselves one day before Ju­piter, and desired him to determine which of them two was best, and most to be chosen. Sorrow pleaded, That it made Men pensive and serious, caused them to think, brought them to a due Sense of their own Frailty, and a pro­found Veneration of the Divine Maje­sty, made them compassionate and ten­der-hearted, besides many other Advan­tages the dull World took no notice of. Mirth on the other side alledged, that it cheer'd the Spirits, made them live­ly and fit for Service, enabled them to do great and noble Things, made Men good Company and belov'd of their Neighbours, beguil'd the tedious Hours of Humane Life, and was an Emblem of the Joys, the Gods themselves were drunk withall. Jupiter having heard [Page 249] them plead a considerable time, and weigh'd the Reasons on both sides, found the decision of the Case so difficult, that he dismist them without any o­ther. Answer but this, That he could not tell. But what a Heathen Oracle could not resolve, a Christian, guided by the Word of Life, may soon deter­mine; and he that believes the tremen­dous things, the Scripture speaks of, cannot but conclude, that there is less Danger in Seriousness and Sorrow, than in Mirth and Jollity, because there are fewer Temptations in the one than there are in the other. Our Natures certainly are not so prone to sin in a Charnel House as they are at a Theatre, nor our Affections so apt to run out in­to Licentiousness in a Church, as they are at a publick Shew. And though a Man may be strong, and couragious, and able to defie all Dangers, yet a Sampson may be overcome by a Dalilah; and if he be not overcome, yet some­thing may stick by him, which may put an everlasting stop to his Growth in Grace and Virtue.

[Page 250]He that goes much to the House o [...] Mourning provides infinitely better for the Safety of his Soul than he that fre­quents the House of Mirth and Feasting the former walks in a beaten Path, whereas the other ventures over a nar­row Bridge, or treads on the edge of a Wall, where it's possible he may come off with Safety; but for one that e­scapes without a Fall; there are twen­ty and forty that miscarry. He that presses through a Hedge of Thorns may possibly get through without tear­ing his Cloaths; but he that hath Pati­ence till he comes to a Gate, and o­pens it, and so passes on, takes the surer way.

The wisest Men in all Ages have judged it better to converse with Spectacles of Misery, than with Objects savouring of external Splendour. He that visits a Hospital, where he beholds variety of distressed Creatures, some lame, some blind, some wounded, some deaf, some sick, some roaring under grievous Pains, will certainly go away more edified than he that feeds his [Page 251] Eyes with all the Gayeties of a luxu­rious Court; the former may leave some kindly Impressions upon him, and oblige him to admire the distinguishing Mercy, Goodness, and Compassion of God, who hath suffer'd no such Acci­dent to befall him, and season his Heart with Pity and Compassion, with Ten­derness and Charity; whereas the ex­cess and extravagance of the other will, do what he can, leave a touch of Light­ness and Vanity upon his Affections. That's the Reason why some provident Men heretofore, have carried their Winding-Sheets with them in their March, others digg'd their Sepulchres and Graves in their Gardens, others at their Solemn Feasts have had a Death's-Head served up, and placed upon the Table, others in a certain Room in their House, have set an empty Coffin on purpose, that looking upon these Spectacles often, their Minds might be taken off from Admiration of worldly Satisfactions, and placed upon Objects which might furnish them with more melancholick Contemplations: and [Page 252] this, in all Probability, will be the ef­fect of conversing with such Objects, if we view them, not as they belong to our Trade, but as thinking Men and Philosophers. The Sexton that digs his Neighbours Grave hath an Object serious enough before him; but he goes to it as a Man that must maintain his Family with the Gain, and therefore is never the wiser for his Familiarity with such Spectacles. The Chyrur­gion that goes among the Lame and Bruised, and Wounded, with no high­er ends, than to fill his Purse, and to discharge the Office of his Art, will come home as little edified as he went: but he whose choice of such mortified Objects is voluntary and deliberate, at­tended with suitable Designs of me­liorating and advancing the Mind, can­not but return enrich'd with that Wisdom, the Merchandise of which is more precious than that of Gold and Silver.

Whatever the merry Sinner may think, it's better to weep than to laugh. Our Great Master, the Lord Jesus, who [Page 253] is a good Christian's Pattern, was of this Opinion: and in Imitation of him, not a few eminent Saints have preferr'd a Feast of Tears before a Banquet of Mirth and sensual Pleasure: Arsenius, Olympias, Domnina, Abraham the Her­mite, the solitary Pambo, and St. Austin, are famous in History for their Tears; to St. Jerom they were in the nature of daily Bread, and he professes, that when his Eyes were fullest of Tears, he saw the Quires of Angels, and could discern the Orders of Seraphim and Cherubim; such a Perspicuity of sight do Tears give to a Holy Soul. That which made these great Men weep so much, was ei­ther a Sense of their own and other mens Offences, or a lively Prospect of the Love of God, or a glorious foresight of the Joys above. But, worldly Sorrow is no Virtue; and he that weeps much, either because he cannot have those Conveniences he would have, or is cross'd and disappointed in his Designs, or because he hath lost such a great Man's Favour, or because some other Loss befalls him, weeps in vain, nay [Page 254] sins by his weeping, and his Sin, if he continue impenitent, brings on Death 2 Cor. 7. 10. Floods of Tears upon a mere temporal Account, are insignifi­cant in Heaven, and no more than Wa­ter spilt upon the Ground; such Tears God doth not put into his Bottle, nor have the blessed Angels any Charge to number the drops that fall; but where Religion, and a mighty Sense of God, and Tenderness of his Honour and Glo­ry, causes Rivers of Tears, and where the Soul hath so delicate a Taste that it cannot think of God without weep­ing, nor speak of him without weeping, nor reflect upon his Goodness without weeping, there the Man is come up to a Perfection, which is the very Suburbs of Heaven.

It's true, all People cannot weep, nor are they therefore in a damnable Con­dition; for they may be sincere in Goodness, and yet not be able to express their Sincerity in Tears, though I am apt to believe, that it is for want of re­fining the Soul into a high Relish of Di­vine Objects, that puts a stop to these [Page 255] sacred Floods in most Men; yet where they can weep, and something they see [...]n God, or in the Word of God, or in the Providences of God, is the true Cause of those Tears, every drop is richer than a Diamond, and such a Soul may vye Happiness with the great­est Monarchs. They are inestimable Treasures; and though Man knows not how to value them, yet the Spirits above esteem them at a mighty rate, and magnifie them in Gods Presence, Luke 15. 10.

It's a huge Mistake, that Men cannot rejoyce except they laugh; there are Tears of Joy as well as Tears of Grief, and the very Heathen saw, that true [...]oy was a very serious thing. Hence [...] was, that they confined true Joy to their Philosophers, and left the louder [...]aughter to Slaves, and Carters, and [...]loughmen: and how often have I [...]en the richest Joys bubble forth from [...]e largest Tears? Nor would Men in those Circumstances change Conditi­on with the most potent Prince in the World, such Content, such Satisfacti­on, [Page 256] such Riches, such Wealth, appears in these Tears which Religi­on forces.

How much better is it to be afflicted where our Prosperity and a good Con­science are inconsistent, than to enjoy Kingdoms and Principalities without the light of Gods Countenance? This was the excellent choice of Moses, and of all the Martyrs of old, who were content to be sawn asunder, to be ston­ed, to be tormented, to wander about in Caves and Dens, weeping and desti­tute, rather than desile their Souls with Sin; which puts me in mind of the good Advice St. Jerom gave to his Friend Heliodorus, Did the Babe, thy Grand child, saith he, hang about thy Neck; should thy Mother that bare thee, bid thee look upon the Breasts thou hast sucked; should thine own Father lie prostrate at thy Feet, and intreat thee to spare thy self, and to forbear venturing on the Strictness and Severities of Religion; get away from them, my Friend, and with dry Eyes fly unto the Banner of Christ Je­sus: in this case, to be cruel is the greatest [Page 257] Piety. This was the Case of the Pri­mitive Believers, who preferred their Distresses before Nero's Chair of State, and took greater Pleasure in their seem­ingly forlorn Condition, than Claudius or Caligula in their Affluence. In the midst of their Tears they were greater men than their Persecutors; and though they wanted all things, and their Enemies had all that Heart could wish, yet they justly believed themselves happier in their Funeral Dress, than the other in their Triumphs.

The Man that roars in a Tavern, or sings in an Ale-house, or rejoyces in his Sin, had more need to wish, that his head were water, and his eyes a Foun­tain of Tears; were he in his Wits he would do so: But his Reason is distor­ted, his Understanding darkned, his Eyes blinded, his Mind unhing'd, his Desires perverted, his Affections led a­stray, and like a distracted Creature, he rejoyces in his Nakedness.

Ah brutish and inconsiderate Soul! Thou weepest to see a Child or a near [Page 258] Relation dye, and canst thou see thy Soul die, and be robb'd of that Good­ness which must give her Life, and be unconcerned? Thou weepest at the loss of a thousand Pounds, and canst thou remember how thou losest God's Favour, and all Right and Interest in the Merits of a crucified Saviour, and keep thine Eyes dry? Thou weepest to see a Friend drowning or burning in a merciless Fire, and canst thou think how thou flingest thy self into the Furnace of God's Wrath, makest his Anger kindle, and wax hot against thee, and dost what thou canst to turn it into a Fire, which no Man, no Angel can quench, and will no Tears flow in­to thine Eyes? How barbarous, how inhumane is thy Joy? What dost thou rejoyce in? That Sin which makes thee merry, that Folly which chears thy Spi­rit, what is it but Ingratitude to thy kindest Benefactor? What is it but re­quiting the greatest Good with the greatest Evil? What is it, but con­tempt of him who keeps thy Soul in Life? What is it but bidding defiance [Page 259] to him who carries thee on his Wings, and out-does the tenderness of a Mo­ther, the care of a Father, and doth all that's fitting to guard thy Soul from Ru­in? And are these fit things to rejoyce in? Are these fit Objects of thy Mirth? Are these Divertisements proper for a Creature that holds his very Being of God, and is beholding to him for all the Blessings he enjoys? What wonder if after all this Impiety and Stubborness, God rejoyces too, rejoyces in thy Groans, rejoyces in thy Anguish, rejoyces in thy Agonies, rejoyces in thy Sense of his Justice, rejoyces in thy Howlings? This he must do at last to secure his Honour. This he will be obliged to do in the end, to vindicate the Veracity of his Threatnings. This he will be constrained to do after all, that Devils may not mock his Holiness, nor deride his Thunders, nor upbraid him with Partiality. At that time, this will appear very good Divinity, no Fable, no Romance, no Trade of Priests, no Invention of Politicians, no old Wifes Tale, no idle Story; and if thou could'st [Page 260] exhaust the Sea in that day, and weep it out again, to testifie thy unfeigned Sorrow, thou would'st do it.

Happy the Soul that thinks of this! Happy the Man that believes these Ter­rors before he feels them. How much wiser are those tender Hearts that do little else but weep and mourn, and make their Life a Valley of Tears with­out a Metaphor! whose Fear of offend­ing God is so great, that every little Defect, and every accidental Miscar­riage, forces Tears from their Eyes: Though there may be some Indiscreti­on in the Management of their Consci­entiousness, yet notwithstanding all this, their Tears are the Wine of An­gels; these are the gaudy Dress of a holy Soul. The Almighty that sees her adorned with these Pearls and glistering in these Pendants, falls on her Neck, and kisses her.

Fear not, ye afflicted, and toss'd with Tempests: So the Lord Jesus wept, though not for his own Sins, yet for the Sins of others, and was receiv'd in­to Glory; so Mary Magdalen wept, and [Page 261] on those Streams a gracious Pardon was convey'd into her Soul; so the great St. Paul wept, and found the Consola­tions of Christ abounding in him; so the penitent Publican wept, and went justified to his House. They that sow in Tears shall reap in Joy. Blessed are ye that weep now, for ye shall laugh, Luk. 6. 21. There is a place high, wondrous high above, where all Tears shall be wiped away, and no Sorrow, no Grief, no Anguish shall appear; so we have heard, so we shall see e'er long in the City of our God: Verily, Verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the World shall rejoyce, and ye shall be sorrowful, but your Sorrow shall be turned into Joy. A Woman, when she is in Travel, hath Sorrow, because her Hour is come; but as soon as she is deliver'd of the Child, she remembers no more the Anguish, for Joy that a Man is born into the World. And ye now therefore have Sorrow, but I will see you again, and your Heart shall rejoyce, and your Joy no Man takes from you, Joh. 16. 20, 21, 22.

[Page 262]2. See here, how differently spiritual things affect Men, as they either atten­tively, or inattentively think upon them. The process of the Day of Judgment to a Man that retires, and through Desire, separates himself to think of it, as the Covetous doth of his Gold, or as the Timorous doth of his Danger, i. e. in good earnest, it will prove an invinci­ble motive to self-denial. Another, that looks upon it, as a thing spoke of in course every Lords day, thinks of the Words as he hears them, but ruminates not upon the Sense, is no more moved with it, than the Carcasses that sleep in their Graves, forbears not one Sin for it, but doth still, as he used to do, mind his Body, gratifie his Flesh, pursue his temporal Interest, comply with sin­ful Men, please himself, regard Religi­on on the By, and set his Affections on things below. And as it is in this, so it is in other Truths; for, do but take a view of the Publick Assemblies; here the glad Tidings of God's Mercy to pe­nitent Sinners shall make an humble Spirit weep, melt his Heart, and force [Page 263] him into humble Thoughts, and lively Admirations of God's Condescension; there sits another, and either sleeps all the while, or continues in as even a Tem­per as he came: What's the Reason? One weighs the Importance of this Truth, considers the vast distance be­twixt God and sinful Man, thinks, if these things be true, how marvellous God's Love must be; and that touches him to the Quick. The other's Thoughts are unstable, as Water, un­certain and inconstant: he satisfies him­self with this, that he hath heard a Ser­mon, performed his Complement to God, and consequently finds no Altera­tion in his inward Man.

How have I seen sometimes a pious Soul transported with a lively Descripti­on of the unseen everlasting Glory, while the greatest part of the Congre­gation have been no more concerned at it, than if the Orator had spoke of com­mon Trees, and Herbs, and the Hysop on the Wall? the Reason is plain, The one thinks of it as a Believer, the other as an Infidel. The one reflects, Lord, [Page 264] what am I, and what is my Father's house, that thou intendest to advance me to this Dignity, lift up a poor Worm from a Dunghil to a Throne, and place him with Princes▪ even with the Prin­ces of thy People, the innumerable Company of Angels! The other pleases himself only with the Sound, mingles the Thoughts of the World with his Devotion, suffers not the glorious Ob­ject to lye long in his Mind, and so it passes, as it came, without any Im­pression. Here one rejoyces at the pre­cious Promises of the Gospel, his very Heart leaps at the joyful News, and they come like Oyl into his Bones, warm his very Soul, and pierce even to the dividing asunder of Soul and Spirit: there another sits like a Stock, and wonders what ails his Neighbour to keep such a stir about a few empty Words. But why should'st thou won­der at the Change thou see'st in thy Friend? He thinks of the Veracity of God, and how these Promises will most certainly be fulfilled; he thinks, how the Riches God promises exceed all [Page 265] the Treasures of this present World, and what Satisfaction they afford to a hungry Soul, how far they do transcend these earthly Glories, and how to have a share in them, is a far greater Privi­ledge than to be related to the greatest Monarchs; and that raises his Soul into that secret Joy. Thou thinkest no more than a Lyon or Elephant, think­est more of thy Profit and Gain, than of these intellectual Treasures; thy Thoughts are not busie about these En­joyments; thou thinkest it time lost to spend any serious Thoughts upon them, and how should thy duller Soul be affected with them?

Here the Example of a valiant Saint, that fought with his Lusts, overcame his Desires, stood stedfast in the hour of Temptation, conquer'd the Devil, vanquish'd all Oppositions, kept the Faith, finish'd his Course with joy, draws an attentive Soul into Imitati­on of his Virtues. There another that hears or reads the same Description, feeds still on his Husks, follows his careless Neighbour, delights in vain [Page 266] Company, continues in his Aversion from the stricter Lives of holy Men. The Reason is evident; for, the one thinks of the noble Attempts such Souls have made, how they are ap­plauded in Heaven, how they have sig­naliz'd their Valour, what Comforts they have prepared for, and of the Re­ward they now enjoy: the other looks upon them as melancholick Men, thinks of his present Pleasure more than of a future Recompence, dives not into the nature of these Conquests, reflects not how agreeable they are to Reason, or how necessary in order to a Crown, but thinks he may have the Diadem spoken of with less Trouble, and there­fore he sits still upon his Dunghil. Vain Sons of Men! How long will ye turn your Glory into Shame! Hath God be­stowed upon you a Faculty which Beasts are Strangers to, and for which De­vils envy you, even Reason and Un­derstanding, the true Image of your Maker, and will you let it lie dormant in the Ashes and Rubbish of your sensual Inclinations? When God hath distin­guish'd [Page 267] you from the ignobler Brutes, will you be like the Horse and Mule, whose Mouths must be held with Bitt and Bridle?

Behold, the Almighty hath prepared a Supper for you; and when the Morn­ing and Noon of your Life is spent, de­signs a Feast for you at Night, immedi­ately after Death; a Feast, where the Lamb that was slain sits Master, and intends to bid you welcome; a Feast, where the Meat will be Angels Food, the Wine Hallelujahs, and the Enter­tainment, Perfection of Bliss and Glo­ry; the Company, the Apostles of the Lamb, and the Spirits of Men made perfect; a Feast, where no Good will be absent, and no Evil present, where Plenty and Affluence will last for ever, where Joys will abound, and the beati­fick Presence of God will charm and ravish Souls to all Eternity. To this Feast he calls you, to this Banquet he invites you, to this Table he sends for you, to these Dainties you are bid, to these Delicates you are entreated to come, of these Varieties you shall be [Page 268] made Partakers; and is it not worth considering, what this mighty Offer means? What if you see it not with mortal Eyes? your Thoughts may see it, your Understanding may behold it, your Reason may take a view of it. Your Thoughts will tell you, that God, who cannot lye, hath promised it, the Son of God, who is Truth it self, hath revealed it; the Apostles, who came at­tended with the Power of Miracles, have publish'd it. These will tell you, that there can be no doubt of it, and that it is as certain, as if you were actu­ally Sharers of it. Give but your Un­derstanding leave to search into this Mystery, and you will be charmed with it; give but your Reason leave to as­cend and descend upon the Ladder of the Word of God, and you will feel a Hunger and Thirst after it; your Souls will long for it, your Affections will breath after it, and your inward and outward Man will labour after it, and strive to enter in at the strait Gate; and shall all these Riches be lost upon you for want of Thinking and Contempla­tion? [Page 269] Could you by thinking make those Joys visible to you, and will ye refuse it! Could you by meditating make that Glory present to you, and will you neglect the Opportu­nity? Could you by musing and pondering bring Heaven into your Chambers and Closets, and will ye debarr your selves of that glorious Sight?

See what you lose by your Inconsi­derateness! See what Consolations, what Satisfactions, what Cordials, you deprive your immortal Souls of! Can you see other Men run away with all the Comforts of the Gospel, and re­main senseless? Can you see others get into the Pool of Bethesda before you, and recover, and are you fond of con­tinuing lame, and blind, and poor, and miserable? Can you see others carry away the Crown, and feel no Ambiti­on in you? Can you see others take away the Blessing of your Father from you, and be unmoved at the want of it? Can you see how other Men by think­ing arrive to Perfection, and will you [Page 270] lye groveling in the Dust? O! think while thinking may do you good. In Hell you'll think, but it will be too late; there you'll think, but your Thoughts will be your Torment? there your Thoughts will be the undoing of you; there you'll think what happy Persons you might have been if you had imitated Abraham's Faith, and Moses's Resolution, David's Candour, and Jo­siah's Piety, St. Paul's Courage, and St. Peter's Tears, St. John's Love, and Lydia's Attentiveness, the Berrhoeans Zeal, and the Macedonian Churches Charity, Zachoeus his Restitution, and the Publican's Repentance; but these Thoughts will then be your Vexation, since the working time is past, and the day of Vengeance come. There you'll think that Christ was your Friend, in­deed, when he made himself of no Re­putation, but took upon him the form of a Servant, became obedient to the Cross, and dyed for you; but to think that he is your Enemy now, because you refused Obedience to him, because you made light of his Offers, and [Page 271] would not accept of him for your Go­vernour, must needs fill you with end­less Grief, and bitterness of Spirit. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to de­liver, Psal. 50. 22.

3. And is not the greatest part of the World to be pityed, that can delight in nothing but what they can grasp and feel? The Covetous can delight in no­thing but in Gold: If he want Money all his Joy is gone: If his Coffers be full, and his Barns stock'd with Corn, and Plenty doth surround him, his Heart rejoyces, his Soul triumphs, and Cheerfulness plumps his Cheeks; but without this, his Mind is disturbed, his Faculties languish, his Countenance is dejected, and he looks like a dying Man. Who would imagine, that this Man hath a rational Soul? Who would think, he were created after the Image of God? Who would conclude him to have lived in a Land where the Gospel is preach'd? Who can inferr from his Actions, or Behaviour, that this Man believes a Word of Scripture? Who [Page 272] would take the Wretch for a Disciple of the poor and afflicted Jesus? Who that looks upon him, would not be apt to cry with him, Sit anima mea cum Philosophis, Let me die the Death of some brave self-denying Heathen Phi­losopher? For these certainly are in a likelier way of Salvation, at least of e­scaping the Wrath to come, than the covetous Christian.

Diogenes being desired of Alexander the Great to beg either Gold or Silver of him, received this Answer, Do but stand out of the Sun, and do not hinder that glorious Light from shining upon me, and I have enough. The brave Crates having sold what he had, and turned it into Money, generously threw it all into the Sea, saying, It is far bet­ter, I should drown thee, than that thou should'st drown me in Perdition. Alexander having sent to the great Phocion two Talents of Gold, the wise Man ask'd the Messengers, Seeing there were so many good Men at Athens, why the King should of all Men make choice of him, to present him? The Ambassa­dour; [Page 273] answer'd, because of all Men he look'd upon him as the honestest. Say you so? replyed the Philosopher, Then let Alexander give me leave to be still an honest Man, which I can be with­out all these Presents, and glistering Treasures.

Cimon had two large Cups sent him from a Persian King, the one full of Gold, the other of Silver. He looks upon them smilingly; and asks the Man who brought them, Whether his Master intended, that Cimon should be his Friend or his Servant? The man repli­ed, It was out of Ambition to have him for his Friend, that he sent it. Oh! then saith he, take them back again, for being his Friend, when I have need of them, I can send for them at any time.

Epaminondas, when some came to corrupt him with gifts, invites the Am­bassadours to Dinner, and there enter­tains them with Roots, and Herbs, and with small sour Wine. Dinner being done, Go home, saith he, and tell your Prince, that Epaminondas being content [Page 274] with such a Dinner, is not easily to be drawn by Bribes into a base and trayter­ous Action.

Fabritius, the Roman General, ha­ving concluded a Peace with the Samnites, the Magistrates of the Sam­nites, by way of Gratitude send six Ambassadours to him with vast Sums of Money, begging of him to accept of it; but he stroaking his Head, and Face, and Breast, and Knees, Gentlemen, saith he, while I can command these Limbs I have no need of Money; and so dis­missed them. Curius gave the same An­swer to them, adding, that he had ra­ther rule over Persons, that had Money, than be possess'd of Money him­self.

These Men were Heathens, whose Delight in Virtue drown'd their De­light in these outward Comforts. They saw, what an Impediment to Goodness, these Heaps of Silver were, and there­fore scorn'd to delight in a thing so base and trivial; they were sensible, that the Soul had her Riches as well as the Body, & as the former by the Confession [Page 275] of the wiser sort of Mankind, went beyond the other in value, so it was reasonable they should delight in the one more than in the other. These Men were bet­ter Christians by the Light of Nature, than thousands among us are with all the helps that Revelation and Grace af­fords; not that the Fault lies in the means, which are larger and richer than Pagans and Infidels have, but that men stupifie their Souls more under these Advantages, than Heathens did under the lesser Irradiations of the Divine Light and Splendour.

So then the very Heathens saw, that the more spiritual the Delight was, the nobler it was, and the more it was re­fin'd, and purified from the Dross of the World, the more rational it was, and therefore more amiable, and fitter to be embraced: and sure, God must have provided but very ill for Mankind, when he embued and impregnated their Souls with a Sense of Religion, if he had not put something into Re­ligion, that's charming and lovely, whereby their Souls might be attracted [Page 276] to delight in it. Religion being deri­ved from him, who is the Fountain of Delight and Satisfaction, must necessarily have that in it which may make humane Souls rejoyce, and ex­alt their Delight into a victorious Supremacy above all worldly Plea­sures.

What did the Lord Jesus delight in, who lived upon Alms? What did the Apostles delight in, who were in much Patience, in Afflictions, in Necessities and Distresses, in Stripes, in Imprison­ments, in tossings to and fro, in La­bours, in Watchings, in Fastings? What did all the2 Cor. 6. 4, 5. Primitive Believers delight in, that were poor, and na­ked, driven into Exile, banish'd, forced to work in Mines, chased away from the Comforts of Wife, Children, and Relations? Something certainly they delighted in; for humane Nature can­not well subsist without delight in some­thing. It could not be the Riches of this World, for they had them not; nor indeed did they care for them, when [Page 277] they were offered them: it was Re­ligion, that engrossed their Delight. This made them joyful in all Conditi­ons; this raised their drooping Spirits under the Rage of their Persecutors; and certainly it would be hard, if a glo­rious God, with all his Attributes, and the wonderful things he hath revealed to our Comfort, were improper Ob­jects of Delight: and since these are the genuine Delights of a Christian, O besotted Soul, why dost thou delight in broken Cisterns, when thou hast the Fountain of living Waters to delight in? Why dost thou delight in Apes and Peacocks, when thou hast the Creator of all these to rejoyce in? Why dost thou delight in a morsel of Meat, when thou hast the Birth-right of eternal Glo­ry to delight in? Why dost thou de­light in the shade of the Bramble, when thou hast the shadow of God's Wings to delight in? Why dost thou delight in the nether Springs, when thou hast the upper Springs of Mercy to delight in? Why dost thou delight [...] [...], when thou hast a House made with­out [Page 278] Hands to delight in? Why dost thou delight in the Rivers of Damascus, when thou hast the River of God's Pleasure to delight in? Why dost thou delight in a fading Beauty, when thou hast him that's altogether lovely to de­light in? Why dost thou delight in the Voice of a deceitful Siren, when thou hast him whose Voice comforts the Mourners of Sion to delight in? Why dost thou delight in the Slavery of thy Lusts, when thou hast him, whose Ser­vice is perfect Freedom to delight in? Why dost thou delight in a little Gain, in Drops of Happiness, in Crumbs of Bliss, in shining Dust, when thou hast a Sea of Glory to delight in?

How deep must thy Soul lye immerst in Body, if such illustrious Objects can­not delight it! How far must thou be yet from the Kingdom of Heaven, if things of this nature cannot content thee! How earthly must thy Heart be, how debauch'd, how perverted from the end of its Creation, if these spiritual Delights are insipid to it!

[Page 279]There are some among us I believe, who have tasted of both Delights, the sin­ful ones of the Flesh, and those which are proper for holy Souls; tell me, I beseech you, whether you think a Fit of Laughter, or a drunken Bout, or a merry Meeting, you once delighted in, so sweet, so comfortable, so refreshing, as the gentle, and soft, and kinder In­fluences of God's Spirit, when you have been engaged in Prayer, and Praises, and Contemplations of a future State? When you have been wrestling with God, and after that work of Love have felt a holy assurance of God's Favour upon your Spirits, can any thing be more pleasing, or charming, than those divine Communications? When you have entred into Meditation of God's goodness, and the Love of God hath shined bright upon your Souls, have not you felt that, which hath been as much beyond all sensual Delights as an oriental Pearl is beyond Brass or Copper, or such baser Minerals? Have not you found a Joy stealing upon your Souls after such refreshing Considerati­ons, [Page 280] as hath transported you even into love of Martyrdom? How contented have you been after such Exercises, or after some signal Self-denial? How harmonious have your Spirits and Af­fections been after such Enjoyments of God's loving Kindness, and how like soft and curious Musick have these Gales of the Divine Goodness composed your troubled Thoughts, and hush'd them into a lasting Peace! And is not this infinitely better, than the Pleasures of Sardanapalus, of Dives, and other luxu­rious men? Will not this turn to better account at last than fleshly Lusts, which war against the Soul? Look upon He­liogabalus, who tryed how great a Mon­ster a man could make himself; in his Cloaths you should see nothing but Gold and Purple, his Beds were embroidered, and the Feathers that were in them must be the softer Feathers of Par­tridges taken from under their Wings, mix'd with the finest Rabbets hair. He would ride in a Chariot shining with Rubies and Diamonds, and not only in the out-side of his Shooes, but [Page 281] even within, he would have precious Stones: he would not ride abroad un­der six hundred Coaches with him; his Beds and Rooms were strow'd with all sorts of curious Flowers, and an e­verlasting Perfume filled his Halls and Parlors: sometimes in a Frolick he would be drawn in a Chariot by four Mastiff Dogs, sometimes by four Stags, sometimes by four Tygers as Bacchus, sometimes by four Lions, as Cybele, sometimes by four beautiful Women. Now and then he would cause Ships to be richly laden with all costly Commo­dities, and then sink them in the Sea. At some of his Meals he would have six hundred Estriches▪ Heads at the Table; And when the Humour took him, all his Courses should be nothing but Phea­sants heaped and piled together in Dishes, sometimes they should all be Pullets; sometimes nothing would serve him, but to have all sorts of deformed men at his Table, eight lame Men, eight blind, eight Blacks, eight gouty, eight fat, eight bald, eight deaf. In such Fooleries he delighted; and be­cause [Page 282] the Syrian Priests had told him, that he would die an unnatural Death, he would keep Poison in golden Vessels, to kill himself, before any Person should be able to lay hold on him: to this purpose, he would have silken Hal­ters about him, and Penknifes set with Diamonds to dispatch himself, when he should see occasion. And he built also a Tower, which he over-laid with Gold, that in Case of any sudden Attack, he might throw himself from the top of it. These were the sottish Delights of this man, and yet after all, he died in a Jakes.

I have mention'd this Brute, and his Actions, because there are in his short Life all the extravagant Actions that a distemper'd Brain can invent, and all the Delights that a mad man could think of, yet who would not prefer a Delight in a good Conscience, and de­light in God's Worship, and delight in Acts of Charity, and delight in heaven­ly Thoughts before it? Sensual Delights must at last expire, but spiritual De­lights do not die; but as you have seen [Page 283] those vast Balls of burnish'd Brass on Church-Steeples cast a glorious lustre assoon as the Sun shines upon them, so at a serious man's Death, his de­light in Holiness, upon God's favour­able Acceptance of it, instead of expi­ring and decaying, immediately grows bigger in its Glory, the Rays of it spread, and enlarge their Borders, and stretch themselves into Eternity. And therefore,

4. Who can harbour any hard Thoughts of Religion, because it debars us of disorderly sensual Delights? In doing so, it does us a kindness, is our Friend, prevents our Danger, saves us from the Pit, delivers us from Hell, makes us live like Men. It doth not de­bar us of that which will make us hap­py, nor hinder us from solid Joy, nor deprive us of such sensual Delights, as are necessary for our Preservation. The Delights it keeps us from, are fitter for Swine than for rational Creatures: it separates us from delights, which will lead the Soul into the Shadow and Val­ley of Death, from Delights, which [Page 284] dethrone the ruling part in us, make the Master serve the Man, and from Princes debase us to a state of Thraldom. It denies us such delights as make God our Enemy, move him to depart from us, and provoke him to Indignation. It will not suffer us to meddle with De­lights, which destroy the Glory of the Mind, damp our Zeal [...], alienate the Heart from God, and drive away his holy Spirit from us. It is against all such delights as would make us mise­rable, and enamoured with Sin, and the World, and in being an Enemy to such Delights it consults our good. It is more favourable to us than we are to our selves, and seeks to make us like God.

God is above all sensual Delights, he is not taken with the Beauty of the Face in Man or Woman; he underva­lues a great Table, and hates the Pro­digality of the Spend thrift; he hath no Body to please, no Eyes to satisfie▪ with glittering Objects, no Ears to de­light with artificial Sounds, no Blood to cherish with studied Cordials; and [Page 285] though the World be his, and the full­ness thereof, yet he solaces not him­self in the Pleasures of it; his Delights are great, like himself; spiritual like his Essence, infinite as his Glory, eter­nal as his Being; he delights in him­self, and is to himself the Object of his Pleasure: he delights in the eternal brightness of his own Glory, and the express Image of his Person: he de­lights in his own boundless Understand­ing, whereby he knows all things, past, present, and to come, and sees all Be­ings before they are, and what will come to pass, and dives into their na­ture, ends, designs, and the Accidents that befall them: his delight lies in do­ing good, and communicating the Rays of his Holiness to his Subjects. He de­lights in his own Perfections, and Vir­tue is the amiable Spectacle of his Eyes: he delights in a Soul that loves him, and an humble Heart is to him a glorious sight. The Soul that loves her own Lowliness, and is content to be little, and despised in the World, em­braces Contempt and Reproaches, and [Page 286] like the mighty Jesus, runs with Pati­ence the Race, that's set before her; this causes Joy in Heaven.

To this likeness, Religion would ad­vance the Soul; not that it attempts to give it the same Perfection, but that it designs to work some Resemblance be­twixt her, and that Sovereign Being. The Soul being in some measure capable of this Delight, its Endeavour is to bring her to a sense of it. In a word, it seeks to reduce Man to the first state of Innocence, from which by Sin he fell. And though Adam had all the Riches and Glories of the World con­centred in his Paradise, yet his Delights were more spiritual than sensual, since his Joys were not so much from the Flowers, and Trees, and Animals themselves, as from the Excellency, Power, Wisdom, Greatness of God, which glistered in their Make, and Use, and the Ends, for which they were created. He saw indeed the proud Tu­lip, the fragrant Rose, the odoriferous Jessamin, and rejoyced; he beheld the Cherry, the Fig, the Almond, and the [Page 287] Apple, and triumph'd; he cast his Eyes on the laden Trees, and how they seemed to let down their Arms to put their richer fruits into his Mouth, and was glad; he took a view of the Fishes, that danced, and leap'd in the Chrystal Rivers, that water'd the glorious place, and his Spirits were enliven'd; but at the same time, the Bounty, Liberality, and Omnipotence of the great Archi­tect of all, appeared so lively to his Mind, that he made his Garden a true Emblem of Heaven, fell down, and Day and Night sung the Praises of his Creator, as if he vyed with the Angels of the upper World, and were trying, who should hold out longest at melodi­ous Hallelujahs.

This Kindness Religion intends to our Souls, and therefore suggests unto us the Promises and Threatnings of God, to keep our Feet steddy in the way, they are to walk in: to this purpose it tells us, That he who loves sensual Pleasure shall be a poor man, poor in Grace, poor in gifts of God's holy Spirit, poor with Respect to God's Favour, poor even to [Page 288] contempt, destitute of those richer in­comes, which sanctified Souls receive, deprived of the Juice and Sap, which flows from the flourishing Vine, the Lord Jesus, in want of a fore-taste of Heaven, and of a sense, What the hope of God's calling is, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance is in the Saints, and what is the exceeding great­ness of his Power toward them that be­lieve, according to the working of his mighty Power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right Hand in hea­venly places, Eph. 1. 18, 19, 20. Who can grumble at Religion after all these advantages? Who can find fault with it after this prospect of its benefits? Who dares asperse that beauteous Vir­gin after such Fruits it bears? Who would not esteem it? Who would not prize it? Who would not honour it? Who would not speak well of it? Who would not look upon it as a horn of plenty, and a treasury of the greatest comforts? Who would not maintain the honour of it, against all opponents? [Page 289] who would not vindicate it, when it is abused? Who would not rise up in de­fence of it, when blasphemous Tongues would traduce, and revile it? Let no man say here, I can follow my Carnal pleasures, and yet be religious too; Alas! What Piety can that be, where thy Affections are divided betwixt Re­ligion, and Worldly Pleasures, and where these Delights commonly have the greater share? May be thou sayest thy Prayers, so have I seen Parrets, and Magpies repeat a few Sentences, which they have been taught: May be, thou goest to Church; so have I seen a blind man sit down by a Candle, but to no purpose: Thou mayest attempt to reconcile the Temple of God, and Idols, but these attempts are as vain, as thy pleasures are; while these sen­sual delights ingross thy Mind, the Word must needs be a dead Letter to thee: Heaven cannot supple thy Soul▪ Hell cannot fright it; the Thunders of God are insignificant to it, and thou art unfit to dye, unfit to appear at the great Tribunal.

[Page 290]The Heathens tell this Fable, That Ceres coming down from Heaven one day, gave out, that she was a Nurse; whereupon, King Eleusius took her to attend his Son Triptolemus, and having him under her Tuition, in the day time she sed him with celestial Milk, and in the night she cover'd him with Fire, to give him Immortality. Religion is that Fire, which must make you im­mortal; this purges away your dross, and cleanseth you Hearts from the dregs of Sin and Death, makes you bright and shining, and capable of eter­nal Light. No Nurse is so tender of you as Religion is: it feeds you with ce­lestial Milk that you may be strong in the Lord, and able to put on the whole Armour of God, and grow up into a perfect Man in Christ: what? if it will not suffer you to please your Flesh be­yond what is necessary for it's Subsi­stence, must it therefore be your Ene­my? Will you count it a Foe because it denies you the Sword which would kill you? How lovely should this very thing make it in your Eyes! How dear [Page 291] should this make its holy Precepts to you! How should you rejoyce, that you have such a Monitor to prevent your Ruine! What Praises do you owe to God, that witholds you from that which would precipitate your Souls into the gulf of Perdition! I conclude the Inference with this Story: Two Brethren were travelling, one a very prudent Man, the other rude and silly; coming to a place where two Ways met, they dispute, which of the two they should take; one look'd as if great Art had been bestow'd upon it, Flowers grew on both sides, and it seemed to be most frequented; the other look'd rough and uneven, liker a Foot-path than a High-way: the weaker Brother, charmed with the out-side, was clearly for making choice of the former; but the wiser, though he saw that the pleasant way invited the Eye, yet I fear, saith he, it will not bring us to a commodious Lodging, the rather because I have heard, that the less beaten Path leads to an Inn, where we may have excellent Accomodation. The foolish Fellow was peremptory in [Page 292] it, that the most pleasant way must be the right way; and prevails with the Brother to bear him Company: and be­ing advanced considerably in it, they light upon a Company of Robbers, who immediately clap Shackles on their hands and feet, and hale them both to their Captain and Governour. Here one Brother accuses the other; the wi­ser charges the other with Stubborn­ness; the weaker blamed the other's Facility, and alledged, That since his Brother pretended to greater Wisdom than he, he should not have been per­swaded. In fine, both are found guil­ty, and both laid up in Prison. These two Brethren are your Souls and Bodies: your Soul is the wise, your Body the foolish Brother. Let not your Body by its Importunity prevail with the Soul to consent to its Desires and Fondnes­ses of the dangerous Delights of the World. O! hearken not to the Per­swasions of a sensual Appetite, that chooses a present Satisfaction, but considers not, there are Robbers at the end of the way, which will [Page 293] certainly throw both into outward Darkness.

5. The great Day is at Hand, let's prepare for it. So Christ told his Di­sciples, and so the Apostles taught the Christian World; nor must we wonder, that the Blessed Jesus should fright his Followers with the Approaches of that day, when he knew, it would not come in sixteen hundred Years, and more, which are past, since his appear­ing in the World. I omit here the Calculations of curious Men, who have been bold to determine the Year in which the day of Judgment will hap­pen; some that follow the Tradition of Elias have allow'd two thousand Years to the Oeconomy before the Law, two thousand to that under the Law, and two thousand to that under the Gospel, and after this have placed the Successi­on of that tremendous day. But I doubt that this is rather a Jewish Cri­ticism than a real Prophecy: for, God having created the World in six days, and a Thousand Years being as one Day with the Lord, it's like Men have [Page 294] concluded from this Notion, That as the World was created in six days, so after six days, i. e. six thousand years, it would be destroyed. Some when they have seen any extraordinary Judg­ments of Hail, or Rain, or Thunder, or Locusts, or great Confusions happen in the World, have from thence in­ferr'd the immediate coming of this Day. Some have placed it in one Year, some in another, but all these are need­less Speculations. It's enough that the Decree is sealed in Heaven, that there will be such a prodigious day; and it was as truly at hand in Christ's time, as it is now, and now, as much as it was then; nay as much now, as it will be but a Year or a Month before it comes in good earnest; for the day of our Death is at hand, and we know not when, or how soon, whether this hour or the next, the fatal Messenger will arrest us in our Journey. The day of our Death is the fore-runner of that greater Day, and according as our Souls are found at the day of our Death, so they will be judged in that [Page 295] glorious day: the Judgment, that will be pronounced upon our Souls at our Death, will be proclaimed aloud before the whole World another day; and if they be so unhappy as to be condemned upon their departure hence, they will all that while, till the great day comes, torment themselves with the thoughts of that Sentence, and the Shame that will ensue upon it, as holy Souls will comfort themselves with the Thoughts of their Absolution. There­fore, when our Souls leave this Body, that day and hour, is really a day of Judgment to us: and that this day is at hand, none but a Sot can deny; and accordingly all Men of Sense have made, and do make early Preparation for it; and he that doth not imitate them, is so far from giving Proof to the World, that he is wiser than they, that he pro­claims his Stupidity, and in a manner, renounces his Portion in the Inheritance of the Saints in light. But then by Preparation I do not mean those little Sprinklings of Devotion, which Hypo­crites, and Men who pretend to love [Page 296] God, yet will not part with their Lusts, usually lay upon his Altar, not the Pha­risees Alms, and Fasts, and Prayer, which were performed with sinister de­signs, out of Vain-glory and Ostentati­on, not Ahab's Repentance, who put on Sac [...]- [...] [...] walk'd softly, but still kept an unmo [...]ed Heart; not the Harlots Piety Solomon speaks of, who said herPro. 7. 14. Oriso [...], and paid her Vows, and her Peace-offerings, and thought to make God amends for the Crimes she lived in, by these Services; not Judas his Sorrow, who lamented his Sin, because he saw the Hell he was like to drop into; not Demas his tem­porary Severity, which soon chang'd into fondness of the World; not the Angel of Sardis his Profession of Reli­gion, who had the name that he lived, but was dead; not the Jews Zeal for the Ceremonial Part of God's Wor­ship, while they neglected Justice, Mercy, Chastity, Sobriety and Charity; not the Zeal of Ezekiel's Hearers, who loved to hear, but were loath to do: [Page 297] but, if you would prepare for this day of Account, so as to be commended by the Judge, the Preparation must have these following ingredients.

1. Pity those inconsiderate Men that live as if there were no future Judgment. Say not, where are they to be found? There is no Country, no City, no Town, no Village, no Street, but the greater part of the Inhabitants live so. All that profess it, all that talk of it, all that live under Sermons which declare it, do not therefore believe it. No man be­lieves it, that is not thereby restrained from Lusts, which war against the Soul. All that dare be lewd, and re­pent not, and do not amend their ways and their doings, whatever opinion they may have of themselves, in despight of their Profession are Infidels, and so much the greater Infidels, because they en­joy means of Grace, and Motives, and Reasons, and Arguments, and helps to believe it; and yet Act as if there were no such thing.

[Page 298]Express your Compassion to their Souls by your Tears, since they will not weep for themselves. Ah! miserable Creatures! E'er long they shall see him whom they have pierced, and mourn, as one that mourns for his only Son, and they are not aware of it! They are hastening to the Shambles, where they will be barbarously butcher'd by hellish Furies, and they are not sen­sible of it! Oh, mourn for them! They deserve your Pity more than Galley­Slaves, more than Wretches in Turkish Captivity: Oh! call to them, and see whether ye can yet perswade them in­to a livelier Faith of this terrible Day. O that you could yet save their Souls from Death, and cover a multitude of Sins! It's like they'll scorn your Tears, and laugh at your Admonitions, for the God of this World hath blinded them; but, Oh! pray for them, that their Eyes may be open'd, that they may see the Precipice they run upon, and behold the bottomless Gulph, upon the Brink whereof, they stand. They are rolling down the Hill; Oh! stop [Page 299] them, if you can, that they fall not into the Lake beneath: seeing your Zeal for their Souls, your concern for their Welfare, your entreaties to save them­selves from this Generation, your sor­row for their undone Estate, your grief for their hardness of Heart, they may yet relent, and turn before the Lord comes, and smites the Earth with a Curse.

2. Every day spend some time in re­flecting on this Day. Is half an Hour, or a quarter of an Hour every Day, such a business, that thou canst find no time for it? How many parts of every day dost thou spend idly and foolishly? Wouldst not thou find greater Profit in bestowing a few Minutes in Con­templation of that Judgment? Say not, who doth so? What? if none did it, if it be useful, and a Duty, a wise Man would think himself obliged to practise it, though he had no Company. It's granted the Age is bad, and few there be that will deviate from the Customs of their Neighbours; but without all peradventure, some there are, that are [Page 300] seriously concerned about their Salva­tion, who make Conscience of it. Had Men, when Christ conversed on Earth been discouraged, by the small Num­bers that followed him, from embrac­ing his Doctrin and Discipline, how would the World have been Peopled with Christians? Good Elijah was not frighted from cleaving to the true God, when he thought all the World was be­come Idolatrous, and why shouldst thou be tempted to forget thy Everlasting Interest, because every Body in the Parish thou livest in, is not devout, and wise, and serious? Suppose thou didst live in a Street, where all the Men were Beggars and Vagabonds, would that be a Motive, to follow their unlawful Cal­ling? If a Treasure were to be had in such a place, and all about thee should be regardless of it, wouldst thou be as lazy as they?

The Merchant ventures into that Country, where he thinks none hath been before him, and doth promise himself a richer Return. In Trades, Men commonly chuse that, of which [Page 301] there are but few Masters, in hopes, they shall thrive the better for it. The same may be applied to the Business in Hand, reflecting every day upon that dreadful Account, which few will venture upon; thou wilt be a greater Gainer, and purchase a richer Peace and Satisfaction; thou wilt rest more sweetly at Night, than thy Neighbours, and thy Conscience will be more at ease; thou wilt go about the Works of thy Calling more cheerfully, and thou wilt be able to comfort thy self better, if any Affliction or Loss do befall thee, than others, who converse little with God and their own Souls.

In the Life of Pachomius, we read, That every day he used to bespeak the several Parts and Members of his Body, and talk to them, as if they had been rational Creatures: Behold, saith he, my beloved Parts, I will advise you to nothing but what is wholsom, and use­ful for you, and therefore shew your selves obedient to my Counsel, and let's serve God cheerfully till we get to a better place. As to you my beloved [Page 302] Hands, the time will come when you will no more be able to strike your Neighbour, or play at Cards and Dice; and when you will not be able to reach any more after Goods, that do not be­long to you. As to you, my beloved Feet, the time will come, when the way you have gone will be stopp'd up, and when ye will be no longer able to run into vain and loose Company. Hearken unto me my Senses, and what­ever helps to make up this mortal Frame, let's strive lustily before Death overtake us, and stand boldly in the e­vil day, and fight bravely, till the great God put an end to our Sweat and La­bour, and call us to his heavenly King­dom. What will it profit you to taste of all the Sweets of this World, if any thing can be called sweet in so much Misery? Why should ye be loath to labour, when to labour ye were born? Why should ye refuse to suffer when shortly you must die, and mingle with Dust? Why should ye seek after a soft and easie Life, when e'er long you'll meet with it in Heaven? This is no [Page 303] Time, no Place for Pleasure; that's on­ly to be found among the Blessed above. This is it, that I would have you com­prehend above all things, that through sensual Delights and Satisfactions Men go into unquenchable Fire; but through Bryars and Thorns lies the way to Joys, which shall never have an end. Why do ye murmur against me when I bid you fast, and watch, and pray? Should I indulge you, it would be your Bane, it would be Cruelty in me to spare you; to give you Ease would be the way to precipitate my self and you into endless Torment. Thus spake that ho­ly Man to the respective Parts and Mem­bers of this Body: and thus, Christian, do thou preach to thy Soul every day; ask it, which of those two Sentences, that shall be pronounced in the last day, art thou most desirous of; of that, Come ye Blessed, or of the other, Depart ye Cursed? If (as no Man is fond of Misery) thou dost hunger and thirst after the former, come my Soul, let's retire, let's ascend the Hill of God, and from thence take a view of what [Page 304] will be hereafter. The Posture of Affairs thou seest now, will not con­tinue long; fancy thou sawestVid Dre­xel. Tri­bun. Chri­sti. l. 1. c. 8. ss 5. a Man whom the Divine Boun­ty hath crowned with variety of temporal Blessings. This Person having a mind to take his Pleasure, retires with his Family to his Country-House, adorned with Tyrian Silks, and Persian Carpets, and with all the Eastern Riches, and there lives merrily, and at his ease; one Night being very jovial at Supper, a Servant of his, base and ill-natured, puts some Lethargick, or Opiate Potion into his Master's and Fellow-Servants Cup; and having rocked them all asleep, opens the Doors, lets in Thieves, and Rob­bers, who having plunder'd the House, at last lay violent hands on the Master, and to make sport with him, drag him thus intoxicated into the open Field, and there leave him. In the mean while the Heavens grow black, and a hideous Tempest gathers in the Clouds, and the Sky begins to lighten, and the Voice of Thunder to be heard, and a [Page 305] dreadful Rain falls; and in the midst of all this Noise and Confusion, the be­sotted Master wakes, looks about, quakes, trembles, believes himself in another World, is astonish'd to see him­self lying on a barren Turf, without Servants, without Attendants, with­out Friends, without Necessaries, without Conveniencies, among Show­ers, and Storms, and Tempests, stist with Cold, frozen to Death almost, and beholding nothing but Misery a­bout him.

O my Soul! thou canst not but look upon such a Person, as the very Emblem of Confusion, and while thou dread'st this fearful State, take heed thou dost not prepare for it, or drop into it▪ take heed of carnal Security, for that will expose thee to the Rage and Fury of hellish Thieves, and make God's In­dignation strangely surprizing. The Terror that will seize the sleepy Soul, when it is summon'd away to the Bar of a righteous God, will be beyond Storms of Hail, and Tempests of Rain, and Flashes of Lightning, and Claps of [Page 306] Thunder. When Covetousness would entice thee, shew it the miserable Ge­hazi trembling before the Throne of God: when Luxury would tempt thee, bid it look upon the wretched Belshaz­zar, mourning to eternal Ages for his Intemperance: when worldly Minded­ness would debauch thee, find out Na­bal among the damned Spirits, and with that Sight fright the foolish Lust away: when Envy would enter into thy Soul, call out Cain from that un­happy Crew, and bid it see its Doom in his Funeral: when present Satisfacti­ons would make thee slight the after­hopes of Glory, bid the profane Esau stand forth from his fiery Cell, to which he is condemned, and it will lose its Courage. Thou readest of the Syrians, how in a Consternation sent upon them from above, they fled in the Night, leaving all their Provision behind them. But what is this to the Consternation, the Judgment Seat of Christ will strike into that Man, who having slighted his Commands, is on a sudden ordered to come and answer the Reason of his [Page 307] Contempt; and forced to leave all his vain Excuses, and Apologies be­hind him. The Name of some War­riours hath frighted Men, Women, and Children; and then how terrible will the Name of the Lord of Hosts be to them, that have fought against his Holy Spirit by their Stubbornness! O my Soul, Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame, Rev. 16. 15.

3. Walk circumspectly every Day, and use that conscientiousness, you would use, were you sure, you should be summon'd to Judgment at Night. To be sure a day­ly Conscientiousness can do no harm. It may possibly deprive thee of the Pleasure of bad Company, but where is the loss, when by that means thou pre­servest thy better Part from being woun­ded? May be, thou may'st get the ill Will of some men, that hate any man, that will not run with them into excess of Riot, but their Hatred is better than their Love; not that a Man is to be fond of the Hatred of others; but since [Page 308] the World does love his own, and is fond only of People, as loose as them­selves, it is a Mercy to be hated by such men, because it is a sign we are not of their Temper. The love of good men is ever to be valued, but that of men loose and profane, is but a trou­ble, except it can be had, without par­ticipating of their sins.

Say not, next Year, or when I have accomplished such a Business, I will trim my Lamp, and make it ready a­gainst the Bridegroom comes. Every Day to live in expectation of the Sum­mons, is the act of a Wise and Blessed Servant: And he that every Day walks with God, walks in a mighty sense of his Omniscience, and Omnipresence, and in his company, business, conver­sation, dealings, keeps God in his Eye, sets his Laws before him, walks as one resolved to please God in all things, lets not a Day pass over his Head without doing some good, uses the World, as if he used it not, and if through inad­vertency he slips, rises again presently, and arms himself with fresh resolutions, [Page 309] is the Person, that lives every Day, as if it were his last Day.

Sinner, wert thou sure, that this Night thou shouldst be summon'd to the Bar of God, wouldst thou swear and lie, and dissemble, and be Cholerick, or backward to good works? Live, as if thou wert sure of it: For suppose thou continuest in the Land of the Living that Night, thou losest nothing by this Pre­paration, nay, thou art a mighty gain­er by it, for hereby thy Soul is refresh'd thy Mind preserved in an excellent tem­per, thy Goodness strengthen'd, thy Graces renew'd, thy Affections en­larg'd, thy Understanding enlightned, thy Will made more tractable, thy Spirits eased, thy Calmness maintain'd, and thy very Body kept in Health. God loves thee, the Promises of the Gospel belong to thee: Devils cannot hurt thee, thou livest like a Christian, act­est like a Man of Reason, preparest for thine own quiet, thy Condition is hap­py, thy Estate safe, thy Life out of danger, thy Conscience clear, thy Con­fidence in God encreases, thy Satisfacti­on [Page 310] swells, thy Comforts grow bigger, and thou freest thy self from that Mire and Clay, in which so many Souls do stick, and deliverest thy Soul from that terrible Pit, which swallows up so many imprudent Tra­vellers.

4. When ever you see, or hear of the judicial Process of a Malefactor, think, and reflect upon this Day. To take oc­casion from things we see or hear, to improve our Minds; and to Meditate on things useful and great, and benefi­cial, is the part of a wise Man, and a Christian, who is to remember, that his Reason is not given him, only to teach him how to live easie, but chiefly to direct him, how to Purifie his out­ward and inward Man. The great Design of the Gospel, is to refine our Reason, and to make it subservient to the Purposes of a Spiritual Life; and he that makes External Objects Instru­ments of spiritual Thoughts, and leads his Consideration from things visible, to those, which are not seen, imitates the Holy Apostles, and the best Pat­terns, [Page 311] 2 Cor. 4. 18. The Judicial Pro­cess of a Malefactor hath many Cir­cumstances in it, which very much resemble the Proceedings of the last Day. Indeed our Saviour, Mat. 5. 25, 26. describes the last Judgment, by the Processes made for Malefactors in this World. Agree, saith he, with thine Adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him, lest at any time the Adversary deliver thee to the Judge, and the Judge deliver thee to the Officer, and thou be cast into Pri­son: Verily, I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost Farthing. In which Words, Christ represents to us the Scene of the future Judgment, and consequently intimates, that when we behold the one, we should spend some serious thoughts upon the o­ther.

Think how terrible the sight of the Judge is to the guilty Prisoner, and how much more terrible the sight of a Majestick God, will be to the unhappy Sinner that would not be kept in by [Page 312] the Laws, and Sanctions of the great Commander of the World, and stood more in awe of a Child, or Servant, when he was going to commit lewd­ness, than of him who gave him life, and being: Think how the Malefactor is frighted and confounded with the vast company of Men and Women, that crowd in to hear his Tryal, and how much more the impenitent Sinner will be ashamed in the last Day, when all the People that have been since the Creation of the World will look upon him, and hear what his fate will be; some Orators have been struck dumb with the greatness of their Auditory, what effect then may we suppose will the Congregation of Mankind have up­on a Wretch, that never saw the hun­dred thousandth▪ part of them be­fore?

Think how it must be with the Male­factor, before the Sentence of Death passes upon him, how heavy his mind is, how Melancholick his Thoughts, how drooping his Spirits are, and what Palpitations he feels about his Heart, [Page 313] and how far greater the heaviness of the sinful Soul must be before the Sentence of Condemnation proceeds against her, from the mouth of God, how much more sad remembrances, how much more dismal reflections will seize upon her!

And if it be so sad with her, before the Sentence be past, what trembling and horror will invade her after it? A Malefactor here on Earth may yet entertain hopes of Pardon, his Prince may be merciful, pity the distressed condition of his Family, remember past services, and relent, and change the Sentence, but the sinful Soul once con­demned to suffer, hath no hopes of for­giveness, no hopes of being Repriv'd, no hopes of being released; not but that God is infinitely more merciful, than the meekest Prince on Earth can be, but the time of Mercy is past. Once he was merciful to her to a Miracle, his Mercy was her Shield, Mercy did en­compass her, Mercy lay entreating her, Mercy courted her; Mercy though abused, came again, and tryed new ar­guments; [Page 314] Mercy followed her, Mercy preserved her from a Thousand Evils, Mercy would not suffer the roaring Li­on to touch her for many years, Mercy stood by her, even then, when she de­sperately affronted her Maker, Mercy was patient towards her, Mercy wept over her, Mercy call'd to her, Mercy would have pull'd her away from her Errors, but she thrust this bright Angel away, would have none of it, made light of it, laught at its charms, despi­sed its entreaties, scorned its carresses, disregarded its smiles, refused its of­fers, rejected its embraces, and therefore cannot feed her self with hopes of Par­don now.

Nay, the Malefactor here on Earth, when Men will not Pardon, hath yet hopes, that upon his true Repentance God will Pardon him; but the Soul that departs hence in a sensual, carnal condition, the same she lived in, hath no higher Court to appeal to, none a­bove God to make her moan to, none beyond the supream Law-giver to ad­dress her self to. The God she hath [Page 315] despised, and whose Mercy could make no impression on her, is to be her last Judge, and therefore how much more disconsolate must her state be, than the condemn'd Malefactor's here on Earth!

5. Whenever you converse with sick and dying men, and are present, when their Breath leaves their Bodies, think, and reflect upon this Day. He visits a dying Friend to little purpose, that on­ly comes to condole with him, or to look upon him, or to ask him how he doth, or what Medicines he hath tak­en, or what Physitian he hath made use of.

The Chamber of a dying Person should make us as serious, as a Church, and compose our Thoughts as much, as an Oratory: In such a Room there are various Objects, that invite us to Pious Thoughts, and do naturally sug­gest to us, very serious Considerations; the sad looks of the Spectators, the Groans of Relations, the Tears of Friends, the Lamentations of Neigh­bours, and the dying Persons Pain and [Page 316] Misery, and perhaps doubts of his Sal­vation, which are not to be beheld with a careless Eye. So that when you see the dying Person near Expiring, think with your selves, This man is going to be judged, his Soul is entring into the Territories of another World, to know what her everlasting state must be: This will shortly be my case. I must e'er long follow her to God's Tribunal; here my stay will be but short; here I have no continuing City; here I am not to tarry long; my Friend, that's gone, shews me the way that I must go. I saw him expire, I heard his last groans, I was by, when his Eye­strings broke; if the Lord Jesus gave him any assurance of his favour, be­fore he died, with what chearfulness will his Soul meet her Bridegroom in the Air; how welcome will he be in the Court of the great King! What rejoycing will there be, when he, and the other glorified spirits behold one another, and they see that one more is added to their Number; for there is no envy in Heaven, no grudges, no [Page 317] fretting, because so many are admitted into the Everlasting Mansions, but the more holy Souls do enter there, the more their joy encreases: If this my Friend hath lived above the World, while he lived here, with what glad­ness will his Soul be brought, and en­ter into the Kings Palace! How will his Name be remembred there! How kindly will Angels talk of him! How favourable will the Judge be to him! but if his Devotion and Piety hath been but Paint and Shew, what a surprize will it be, immediately upon his coming among the spirits of another World to be arrested at the suit of the Great God, and to be carried away to his Tryal! He is taken away from his sick Bed, but should his Soul be sent away with a Curse, how much worse will Hell be, than his sick Bed! In a sick Bed Physick may yet give some ease, but Hell scorns all Medicines, no Drugs are of any use there, no Cordials, no Cataplasms are to be found there, no vulnerary Herbs grow in that Wilder­ness: On a sick Bed, Friends may yet [Page 318] comfort us; but in Hell, there is no Friend, all are Enemies, all hate one another, because none can deliver the other from his Torments: In a sick Bed Neighbours may give their advice, but in Hell no advice can be given; for the Inhabitants are not capable of taking it: The Devils indeed may ad­vise them to speak evil of God, because of the irreversible doom they lie under, but that's a Remedy infinitely worse than the Disease, and they that follow this counsel increase God's Anger, and their own Plagues, and as they ven­ture upon new Sins, so God must in­flict new Curses, and try new Rods and new Scourges, which makes the misery truly infinite.

Such Reflections the sight of a sick and dying Man will cause; nor is this judging of his everlasting and final State but a mere occasional Me­ditation, undertaken for no other end, but to affect our own Souls with the day of God's righteous Judgment, to improve our own Thoughts, and to make a holy use of such Occasions, [Page 319] as God's Providence thinks fit to present to us.

6. Whenever you go to a Funeral, think of this Day of Judgment. It's a marvellous thing to see, how Men spend their time at Funerals. Though they are in the Room where the dead Body lies, yet they drink, and laugh, and are merry, and talk of any thing, that their Fancy, or their Business, or the Reports of People abroad do sug­gest. Though Death stands before them, and the Corps seems to exhort them to Contemplations of their Mor­tality, and the Consequences of Death, yet how carefully do they shun all Discourses and Thoughts of that Na­ture? The Life, the Actions, the Vertues, and the good Qualities of the dead Persons, might deserve some Pi­ous Conferences; or his Change, and passing from this Life into another, and being freed from the Burden of the Flesh, and from innumerable Trou­bles and Vexations, which this Life is subject to, would be no unseasonable Subject of Discourse upon such Occa­sions. [Page 320] But so great is the Aversion of most men from such kind of Enter­tainments, that any thing rather than this, though never so frivolous, shall be hearken'd to, and either the News of the Town, or their Trade, or their Merchandise, or their Sports, or some▪ thing of this Nature, is preferr'd be­fore the melancholy Prospect of Eternity: Or if some Pious Person, be­gins a Spiritual Discourse, or to talk of something suitable to that Occasi­on, the Company is struck dumb on a sudden, and glad when the Stream turns, and some other impertinent Subject is pitch'd upon. In a word, Men go to a Funeral, as to a Play, or Shew; and as they bring no serious Thoughts with them, so they carry none away. But thus it must not be with you, who are sensible that such Opportunities are presented to you by Providence, to strengthen your inward Man. And therefore, when you see the Mourners go about the Streets, when you your selves accompany the Corps to the Grave, think of the great [Page 321] Sentence the Soul will receive upon her Approaches to the Throne of the Hea­venly Majesty. St. Hierom describing the Funeral ofIn Epitaph Paulae Rom. the happy Paula, that fa­mous Saint, who while she lived here, was Eyes to the Blind, a Nurse of the Poor, a Staff to the Lame, and an Example to all religious Persons, tells us, That when she was dead, there were heard no Shrieks, no Howlings, no Weeping, no despairing Lamentations, but Psalms, and Hymns, and spiritual Songs: her Corps was carried to the Grave upon Bishops Shoulders, Prelates carried Lamps and Wax-Candles before her, and a Quire of Singing-Men accompanied her to her Tomb, and most of the People of Palestina came together to attend the Funeral. The Monks crept out of their Cells, the Virgins from their Re­tirement, and good Men, in all Places thereabout, thought it Sacriledge not to pay the last Office to her. The Widows and Orphans, as in the case of Dorcas, came, and shew'd the [Page 322] Garments she had made for them; and all the indigent and needy cryed, they had lost a Mother: and for three Days, Psalms were sung in Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Syriack; and every Body celebrated her Funeral as if it had been their own.

When you behold the Funeral of such a holy Person, think, how with far great­er Pomp the Angels meet the Soul of the deceased at the Gates of Heaven, and on their Shoulders, carry it to the Throne of everlasting Mercy. Think how joyful­ly those blessed Ministers conduct such a Soul to her eternal Rest, and how they triumph that she is deliver'd from the Burden of the Flesh, and advanced from a Valley of Tears, to a place of endless Glory. When the great Con­stantius died in Britain, his Ashes were put in a golden Chest, and with great Pomp carried through France, and Italy, to Rome; but, think how far greater Honour it is, for such a holy Soul to be convey'd by the Spirits of Light into the City coming down from Heaven, prepared as a Bride adorned [Page 323] for her Husband, the twelve Gates whereof areRev. 21. 20, 21. twelve Pearls, and the Streets pure Gold, as it were transparent Glass.

On the other side; when you see the stately Funeral of a voluptuous and sensual Man, such as Attila was, the Soldiers tearing their Hair, the Courtiers weeping, the Body wrap'd up in Silk, the Guard proclaiming his valiant Actions, and Monuments erect­ed upon the Grave, of Gold, of Sil­ver, and of Iron; think on the more dismal Funeral of his Soul, in case it was not wash'd here with the Waters of Repentance, and which is the great­est Purification, with the Blood of Je­sus: think, if the Soul be for ever se­parated from the glorious Presence of God, and commanded away into ever­lasting Darkness, not all the stately Mo­numents raised for the honour of her Body will qualifie her Misery in the o­ther World; not all the Acclamations or Applauses of Flatterers will give her any Comfort, not all the Riches she en­joy'd [Page 324] on Earth, nor all her Wealth and Greatness, and Dominion, will there ex­tinguish the least Spark of Fire her Con­science will feel. This dreadful Funeral will be attended with crouds of unhap­py Spirits, who, instead of mourning, will rejoyce at the Guest that's come into their Tents, and Lycaon like, cover her with eternal Darkness. Such a Soul is laid in a worse Grave than her Body, even in the burning Lake, where the Misery is proportion'd to her former Sins, and her Conscience frighted with Scenes of Horror; and the Remembrance of her quondam Pomp encreases her Dis­content and Anguish: think of this, and learn to be sober; think of this, and learn self-denial; think of this, and learn not to love the World: think of this, and learn to secure the Light of God's Coun­tenance: think of this, and learn to ho­nour them that fear the Lord: think of this, and learn to do good in your Generation.

7. To avoid the Terror of this future Judgment, judge your selves here on Earth; for if we would judge our selves, we should [Page 325] not be judged, saith the Apostle, 1 Cor. 11. 31. Then we judge our selves, when we confess our particular Errors; and condemn our selves for the Commissi­on, when with Grief, and sorrow of Heart, and Indignation against our selves, we do acknowledge, that we have abused the Divine Mercy, and by so doing, deserved his taking his holy Spirit from us; when we lay his Threatnings before us, and confess that these Plagues are due to us, and that we have deserved them, and wonder at the Patience of God that hitherto hath been loath to give order to the destroy­ing Angel to seize on us; when, from a sense of our Neglects and Sins, we cry, It is a bitter thing and evil, that we have forsaken the Lord, and that his Fear hath not been in us, and are so convinced of our Demerits that we can give no o­ther Reason for our Escape and Preser­vation so long, but God's infinite Good­ness.

This is to accuse our selves; a neces­sary Part or Action in this Judgment; so far from being unnatural, that it is a [Page 326] very ordinary, nay, necessary Effect of true Repentance. In humane Courts of Judicature, the Malefactor is not bound to accuse himself; but in the Court of Conscience, when we stand before God, and remember we have to deal with the Searcher of Hearts; to accuse our selves before him, is not only our Duty, but our Interest; we are gainers, and advantage our Cause by it, and render God propitious and kind, not that we make any alteration in God's Nature, but we rely upon his promise, which is, that he will spare us upon this Self-accusation: Nor is this all, but we prosecute the task of judging our selves, when we are angry with our selves for our imprudence in neglecting so great Salvation, and study, how to be revenged upon our Corruptions; when we decry our inward, and outward failings, and are resolved to mortifie them, were they as dear to us, as our right Hand and Foot, and the Apple of our Eye; when we erect a Tribunal in our Souls, and bid our disorderly Thoughts, and Words, and Actions ap­pear [Page 327] before us, and give an account of their behaviour, and finding they have been exorbitant, lash them into better manners; when we lay mulcts on our inordinate desires, in case they will not yield, and put our Flesh to some more than ordinary trouble, in case it will not be kept within its due bounds and limits; when we punish our Eyes, by fixing them so many minutes on Heaven, or on the Word of God, be­cause they gazed on things, which God hath forbid; when we chastise our Ears with hearing so many Sermons, because such a Day, they listned with pleasure to an offensive story; when we inflict silence upon our Tongues for some days, because such a time they spake things either undecent, or injurious to our Neighbours; when we bid our Feet keep at home for a considerable time, because they ran into evil Company, when they should not; when we deny our Body its necessary Food and Re­freshment for some time, because it pam­per'd it self such a Day, and play'd the wanton; when we will not let our sen­sual [Page 328] Appetite enjoy its harmless, and in­nocent delights for a certain time, be­cause the other Day it was greedy after outward and carnal satisfactions; when we suffer our selves to be reproached without answering, because such a Day we flew out into an unruly passion.

This is to judge our selves, and they that do so, may be confident, they shall not be condemn'd with the World; in doing so, we do that to our selves, which God would have done to us, if we had continued impenitent, and insensible, and take that vengeance of our selves, which God would have taken of us in a severer manner, in case we had not be­thought our selves; and thus we prevent his anger, and shew, that we dread his Wrath, and seek his Love, that his Threatnings fright us, and that we have just apprehensions of his Indignation; and such men the Holy Ghost counts happy, for, blessed is he, that feareth al­ways, saith the wise Man, Prov. 28. 14.

8. In your Actions, regard not so much how they are relish'd with Men, as whether they will hold Water, and endure the Test, [Page 329] before the Judge, when your naked Souls must appear before him. It is a very great fault, to govern our selves by the Opinion of Men: Even Heathen Phi­losophers saw, that the way to Virtue, was to despise the Opinions of Men. And indeed, where we make meer O­pinions the measure of our Goodness, we cannot but run into very great Er­rors. It's true, we are to provide things honest in the sight of all Men, and we are not to give Offence to others in any thing, especially in matters where Duty is not concerned, and we are con­cerned to let our light shine before Men, that others may see our good Works, and may praise our Father which is in Heaven; but this differs very much from governing our selves in matters of good and evil, by the Opinions of Men. We are not therefore to think, our Actions are truly good, because Men have a high Opinion of them, nor to believe there is no hurt in many things we do, because men see none, or because they are charitable, and will not put an ill Construction upon them.

[Page 330]Abundance of our Actions appear plausible to men, who see no further than the outside; but let's consider, whether they will bear the piercing Eye of this All-seeing Judge; it's true, should God lay our Righteousness to the Line, and measure our Religious acti­ons by the exact Rule of his Wisdom, Justice and Holiness, he would spy in­numerable flaws even in the Services of the devoutest Person living, but he pro­ceeds not according to that rigour, for the great Mediators sake he makes large allowances for acci­dental infirmities, and incogitances, and unforeseen, and involuntary slips, and the sincerity of a good work is, that he chiefly takes notice of, whether the intention was good, whether the design was Holy, whether Love was the Prin­ciple of it, whether it was without re­serves of some secret sin, whether there was candour, and ingenuity in it, and whether the offering was free, unfor­ced, unconstrain'd by any outward Mo­tive, and whether Charity lay at the bottom.

[Page 331]Many of our Actions may want these qualifications of Sincerity, and yet ap­pear specious, and gay, and glorious in the Eyes of Spectators, and those we converse withal: Look not Christians on the commendations of your Neighbours in your acts of Piety, but on the com­mendations of that Judge, to whom ye must give an account; for not he that commends himself, or whom men commend, is approved, but whom the Lord commend­eth, 2 Cor. 10. 18. If he do not com­mend our works, all the approbations of Mortal men, will do us but little good another day; and serve only to tell us, that we were cheated by those Encomiums. Alas! How many men are counted Just and Righteous, Honest and Good, here on Earth, whom the great Judge will not find so, when he comes to examine their deeds by the Rule of Sincerity! Sirs! matter not, whether men do look upon you as devout, but pray that God may esteem you so; Alas, what doth it signifie, that men call me Religious, when God knows, I am an Hypocrite? What comfort can it be to [Page 332] me, that men think me charitable, when God sees, I give Alms to be seen of men? What will it profit me, that men call me Zealous and Fervent, when God sees, that gain, and profit is the cause of it? What doth it avail me, that men say, I pray well, when God sees, I study to please the Company? What great matter is it, that men applaud me for a single Virtue, when God sees I am par­tial in my Obedience? What great ad­vantage can it be to me, that men say I am humble, when God sees pride in that very humility? The Apostle therefore bids us look to the manner of our performances; He that gives, let him do it with simplicity; He that rules, with diligence; He that shews Mercy, with cheerfulness; Let love be without dissimu­lation, be kindly affectioned one to another with Brotherly Love, &c. Rom. 12. 8, 9, 10.

So, when you pray, let your Hearts breath out holy Desires; when you sing, let your Minds bear a principal Part in the Hymn; when you come to the Ta­ble of the Lord, let your Souls be touch'd [Page 333] with the Love of Jesus; when you are kind to your Neighbours, banish all si­nister Designs; when you express any holy Fervours, let God's Glory be in your Eye; when you discharge any part of your Duty to God and Man, let a cheer­ful Obedience to the Gospel be the Mo­tive: Do all this as unto God, not as un­to Men; do it, as if no Creature saw you; do it, as if none but God were be­fore you; do it, as if you were to be summoned this Moment to Judgment: such Services will endure the Probe, such Devotions will stand good, such Acts of Piety will bear searching, such Works God himself will bear witness of, that they were wrought according to his Will, and by the Power of his holy Spirit.

9. What Injuries you receive in this World from Men, bear them patiently, out of regard to this great Day of Judgment, when God will set all things to rights, and take care that you lose nothing by your Suf­ferings. Rejoyce Christian in thine In­nocence, which God intends to proclaim in this Day before all Men and Angels. [Page 334] He'll wipe off all the Dirt and Aspersi­ons that are thrown upon thee, in that day: He will bring forth thy Righte­ousness as the Light, and thy Judgment as the Noon­day. Psal. 37. 6. What need'st thou take notice of an Affront offer'd to thee, when thy God stands engaged to take notice of it with a Witness in that day? What need'st thou seek Revenge, when thy Master whom thou servest, is resol­ved to judge thy Cause in that Day? What need'st thou fret and rage at the Contempt, Men put upon thee here, when thy great Lord will be sufficiently angry with the Offender in that day? What need'st thou grieve that Men a­buse thee here, when thy Sovereign Master will grieve every Vein of the Reviler's Heart in that day? What need'st thou be concerned for the Reproaches Men cast upon thee for thy Righteous­ness sake, when he, for whose Name thou sufferest, will vindicate thy Wrongs, and call the Persecuter Fool for his Pains in that day?

Say not, At this rate there will be no [Page 335] living for me in the World; but trust that God, who hath promised to clear thy Innocence in that day, and he will hide thee under the shadow of his Wings, while thou art in this trouble­some World: he that preserved Elijah when Ahab, and Jezabel, and all the Prophets of Baal were enraged against him, knows how to keep thee in the Hour of Temptation. Ay, but Revenge is sweet! What if it be so to Flesh and Blood? it will prove bitter to thy Spi­rit: and if ever thou art saved, a bitter Repentance must come in, and salve the Wound; and wilt thou prepare for a needless and uncertain Repentance? How knowest thou, whether God will after the Fact, give thee his holy Spirit to come to this Repentance? And what Cruelty is it, when God is resolved to revenge thy Quarrel, that thou wilt needs revenge it too? If thou revengest it, God will take no care to plead for thee; but if thou leave thy Cause entirely to him, thy patience will be infinitely recompens'd in that day. Thus did thy blessed Master, who when he suf­fer'd, [Page 336] threatned not, but committed himself to him 1 Pet. 2. 23. that judges righteously. Wilt thou boast of being his Disciple, and art thou loath to follow his Exam­ple? Fear not, those Men who wrong thee now, will be sufficiently sorry for the Injury, either here, if ever they be truly converted; or hereafter, when the Almighty will convince them to their everlasting Grief, how much they were mistaken in their Verdicts, and what sinister Constructions they put upon thy Actions, how barbarous their Rage was against thee, how inhumane the ill Language they gave thee, and how unjust all their Reproaches were. Do but stay a little while, and thou shalt see it with thine Eyes: Have but Pati­ence until that appointed day, and thou wilt find, the Prophet was in the right, when he said, The Righteous shall rejoyce when he sees the Vengeance, so that a Man shall say, Verily, there is a reward for the Righteous; Verily, he is a God that judges in the earth, Psal. 58. 9, 10.

[Page 337]10. Consider particularly, That it will be more tolerable for Hea­thens, and professed Infidels Matt. 11. 22. at this day, than for Chri­stians; and not without reason. Trea­son is more excusable in a Stranger than in a Citizen or Domestick, and more may be pleaded for a sinful Life in a Pagan, than in one of Christ's own Houshold. A Heathen is obliged to God by the Right of Creation and Preserva­tion; but a Christian hath, besides these, Baptism, and his Vows, to tye him: his Motives to the Fear of God are stronger than they can be in other Re­ligions. Where the greatest Rewards are, there we may justly believe People will be most industrious, most labori­ous, and most sedulous. No Religion proposes those rewards, that Christiani­ty doth. The Heathens either had doubt­ful Apprehensions of an everlasting Hap­piness, or were Strangers to the nature of it. Among us this endless Glory is not only professed, but most clearly re­vealed; we are sure of it, confident of it, have no reason to dispute the cer­tainty [Page 338] of it, and the nature of it is discovered to us by him who came out of his Fathers Bosom; therefore he that under these Manifestations proves care­less and negligent of God's Love, can have no Excuse.

And as Heaven is or may be seen in all its Glories among us, so we are as­sured of a burning Lake, of an endless Misery, which attends the unconsciona­ble and disobedient; whereof the Noti­ons of Pagans, and Idolaters, were but dark, and consequently we have a stron­ger Bridle to curb the Violence of our sinful Desires than they; and therefore this must make our Doom more ter­rible.

The helps we have to arrive to Ver­tue are not only more in number, but more powerful, our Knowledge is great­er, our Instructions greater, our Illumi­nation greater, our means of Grace richer; and we have greater Examples of Holiness than ever the Heathen had; we have besides Philosophy, and the Law of Nature, the Sacred Scriptures, and besides Conscience, the Spirit of [Page 339] God to exhort us, to reprove us, to ad­monish us, to assist us, and to help our Infirmities. If a Heathen sin, he doth but stumble in the dark; if a Christian sin, he falls at Noon-day. We have Sa­craments to bind us to a perfect hatred of Sin; and Semiramis took no more pains to fence her City with Brick Walls, than the Almighty doth our Souls from falling a Prey to the Prince of Darkness; nay, our Impediments in our way to Bliss are less than the Pagans had: by Baptism, and the Power of Christs Death, the Powers of Darkness are broken, the Devil's Strength is much abated, his Arrows are not half so fiery as once they were. The Heathens have far greater Obstacles. The Devils Power among them seems unlimited, and there­fore for us to fall a Prey to this Enemy, for us to yield to his Suggestions, for us to be drawn into his Net, will scarce admit of a charitable Apology.

These things are now made light of; but nothing is more reasonable, than that they who have abused the greatest Mercy, should feel the severest Lashes; [Page 340] Christian, why should God give thee greater Light, and greater advantages, than to other men? They are men of the same passions thou art of, and they are Flesh, and have Reason, and are God's Creatures; and depend upon his Providence, as well as thou; and why should God make a difference betwixt thee and them? No other Reason can be assigned, but his undeserved compassion. Thou wicked Servant, had thy Master a greater kindness for thee, than for thy fellow-Servants, and could not this di­stinguishing kindness prevail with thee to be faithful, and loyal to him? Thy ingratitude is abominable, and thy tor­ment shall be pro [...]tionable: Thy im­piety was intolerable, and thy flames shall be so too: Thy baseness is inex­pressible, and the plagues shall be so too: Thy unworthiness is uncommon, and thy agonies shall be so too: Thou deservest a bitterer Cup, and thou shalt drink it too. If God should not punish thee more than Heathens, he would be partial, his Honour would suffer in the indulgence, and he hath but little encou­ragement [Page 341] from thy good nature to les­sen his Wrath and Fury.

Dionysius talked Atheistically, as well as thou, but he had no Scripture to di­rect him. The Sybarites were luxurious as thou art, but they knew not what the Gospel meant. Novellius Torquatus was given to drunkenness, as thou art, but he never made Vows against it in a Sacrament of Baptism. Tarquinius was proud, as thou art, but he never heard of the humble Jesus. Julia was vain in her dress and habit, as thou art, but she understood not, what the stu­pendious Work of Redemption meant. Decius Mundus was lecherous as thou art, but he was not acquainted with a Holy, Sanctifying Spirit. Themistocles was envious, as thou art, but he never heard God speaking to him by his Son. Epicurus was careless of a future Immor­tality, but he had not Ministers to preach to him. Simonides was covetous, as thou art, but he knew of no Articles of be­lief. Philagrius was cholerick as thou art, but he made no profession of Good­ness and Religion. Sisamenes was un­just [Page 342] as thou art, but he never heard, that the Unrighteous are not to inherit the Kingdom of God. Unidius was un­charitable as thou art, but he had not that Cloud of Witnesses, those holy Ex­amples that thou hast. Sardanapalus minded nothing but his Lusts, and Belly, as thou dost, but he never heard of a Crucified Saviour. Democles was a flatterer and dissembler, as thou art, but the Terrors of the Lord were never ma­nifested to him. All which advantages thou possessest above these Pagans, there­fore it must needs be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah at the Day of Judgment, than for thee.

11. Let the process of this Day among other Vertues, engage you particularly to a practical Charity, and readiness to do good to others, who are under affliction, especially where God hath blessed you with conveniences, and superfluities; for the Judge is resolved to insist upon this Vertue more than others: This he has not only assured us of, Matth. 25. 34, 35, &c. but it is also the most rea­sonable thing in the World, that we [Page 343] who hope to find Mercy in that Day, should be acquainted with shewing Mercy to Christ's distressed members here; for it is Christ's Rule, that with what Measure we mete here, with the same Mea­sure Luke 6. 38. it shall be meted to us again; and to this purpose the Apostle, He that soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; but he that sows bountifully, shall reap also bountifully, 2 Cor. 9. 6.—The Virgins that wanted Oyl, were ex­cluded from the Wedding-feast, when the Bridgegroom came; that Oyl was Charity, which therefore the good Sa­maritan poured into the Wounds of the distressed Man; and as Oyl supples the the Joints, gives ease to the part, which is in pain, and is an ingredient of most Chyrurgical Operations, so Charity re­lieves the Miserable, and refreshes the Calamitous, and hath an influence upon all other Vertues. It was therefore wisely said by that pious Duke of Savoy, when one ask'd him, where his hunting Dogs were; he led them into his Hall, where abundance of Lame, and Blind, [Page 344] and Poor People fed at his cost and charges; these, saith he, are my Dogs that serve me in my hunting after Hea­ven and Happiness: All other Vertues lose their glory, where Charity doth not bear them company. To this Ver­tue we are born, and it is the most easie of all the rest, and therefore to want it when we come before the Judge, must needs turn his Face, and Favour from us.

And it is remarkable, that the Judge represents all the acts of Charity, he reckons up in this Day, as done to him­self, I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink, &c. whereby he doth not only intimate the close union, and communion, the poor Man hath with him, insomuch that he is one with him, but shews, that in our Alms, and doing good we must have respect chiefly to Christ Je­sus. Let the Man, that begs thy Charity or wants thy Relief, be brought to Po­verty by his own folly, let him be wick­ed, let him be ungrateful; give him with respect to thy Saviour; look upon Christ when thou dost supply his wants; have [Page 345] the Lord Jesus in thine Eyes, regard not so much the poor Man's Nature, be­cause he is of the same Flesh with thee, nor so much his Relation, because he is of Kin to thee, nor so much his Coun­try, because he is of the same Town, that thou art of, nor so much his Reli­gion, because he professes the same Faith with thee, nor so much his Person, be­cause he is a Gentleman, nor so much his readiness to extol thy bounty, as the Love and Charity of the Holy Jesus to thy Soul and Body. Have that in thine Eye chiefly, when thou openest thy Hand, let him be in thy Mind, when thou distributest thy bounty; this makes thy Charity amiable, and acceptable, and fit to be proclaimed, and commended in this Day.

And indeed, How dost thou know Christian, but that thy Saviour may sometimes disguise himself, and appear to thee in the shape of a poor Man, and wilt not thou give freely, wilt not thou give cheerfully, wilt not thou give rea­dily, since thou knowest not, but thou may'st give it to thy Saviour himself? [Page 346] And how glorious an Encomium will it be in the last Day, to hear him say be­fore the World, I was naked, and this good Man cloathed me, I was in Prison, and he visited me! The three Angels of Old disguised themselves in the shape of Travellers, to try Abraham's hospitality, and from hence possibly came the Hea­thenish Fables, that their Jupiter came in the Habit of a poor Man to Philemon, who entertaining him, Jupiter made his House a Temple, and the Owner, the Priest of it; and that Apollo coming as a Traveller to Mydas, and being kindly entertain'd by him, rewarded his Boun­ty with vast Wealth and Riches; tho' we have no warrant from Scripture to believe that Christ doth actually dis­guise himself to us in such shapes, and appears to us to try our Charity, yet it is no impossible thing, and we may piously believe it, thereby to encourage our selves to cheerful Contributions, lest finding us hard-hearted, and ill-natured, covetous, and incompassionate, he deal with us, as Jupiter among the Heathens, is said to have dealt with Lycaon, whom [Page 347] when he came to visit as a guest, and found cruel instead of being hospitable, he turned him into a Wolf. Christ hath threatned the hard hearted a worse, and stranger Metamorphosis, for they that will not be like him in doing good, shall be doomed to be like Devils, to mourn and lament as they, and to Eternal Ages too, for this is the Sentence, Go into Everlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels, for I was an hun­gred, and ye gave me no meat, &c. Mat. 25. 41, 42.

12. Let nothing discourage you from admiring those men who live in the Thoughts, and Contemplation of this fu­ture Judgment; We admire men for their Parts, Abilities and Accomplish­ments; we admire Aristotle for his Learning, Archimedes for his Mathe­mathicks, Socrates for his Gravity, Ab­solom for his Beauty, Achitophel for his Policy, Saul for his Tallness, Arion for his Musick, Asahel for his Nimbleness, the Men of Benjamin for their Skill in Slinging, Darius for his Gratitude, Ci­cero for speaking, Virgil for Poetry, [Page 348] Urbino for Painting, &c. but these are poor things for our Reason to admire; Men that live Day and Night in a sense of this future Judgment, live continu­ally in expectation of the Arch-angel's Trumpet, or the Summons of Almigh­ty God, these are the Men, whose Praise we ought to shew forth in the Gates. Let others admire Demosthenes for his Rhetorick, I will admire St. Paul, who so look'd at the things not seen, even at this Judgment, as to rejoyce in Tri­bulation, and though troubled on eve­ry side, yet was not distressed; though perplex'd, yet was not in despair; tho' persecuted, yet was not forsaken; tho' cast down, yet was not destroyed; appeared to the World, as sorrowful, yet was always rejoycing; as poor, yet made many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessed all things, 2 Cor. 4. 7, 8, 18. 2 Cor. 6. 10.

Let others admire Arcesilaus for his Prudence, Scipio for his Fortitude, Ari­stoclides for his humanity, Pythagoras for his Philosophy, I will admire the Primitive Believers, who stood in such [Page 349] awe of this Great Day, that their con­stant Thoughts and Contrivances were, how to resist their Adversary the Devil, and upon this account stood fast in the Faith, quitted themselves like Men, were strong, and always abound­ing in the work of the Lord. The thoughts of that Day made them vi­gilant, sober, heavenly minded, despi­sers of the World; charitable, kind, tender-hearted, fruitful in all good Works, and why should we delude our selves, or fancy we need not do so, or that they did more than they ought to have done? The Best of Men, the Wisest Men, the Holiest Men that ever lived, have been frighted, over­awed, supported, preserved in good­ness by the contemplations of that Day, and therefore, if we are not, it's no sign, that we are wiser than they, but that we are more stupid; we are all ambitious of participating of their glory, and why should we be afraid of taking the way, that led them to it? These are the men, who choose the bet­ter part. These are the men, who [Page 350] though laugh'd at by the World, are a Crown of Glory, and a Royal Diadem in the Hand of their God; and for their Shame they shall have Double, and for their confusion, they shall re­joice in their portion. Their light shall come, the Glory of the Lord shall rise upon them: They shall break forth on the right Hand, and on the left, and in Righteousness shall they be established: They shall dwell on high, their place of defence shall be the Munition of Rocks; Bread shall be given them, their Water shall be sure: Their Eyes shall see the King of Glory in his Beau­ty, they shall behold the Land, that is very far off; even the Land, where Rivers of Pleasures flow, where no Tears are to be seen, no Sorrow to be found, no anguish to be heard of. These are the Men which at last shall sit down in the Throne of God, and having suf­fered Hunger and Thrist with the Holy Jesus here, shall Eat, and Drink at his Table in his Kingdom. These Men will at last be look'd upon with greater fear and reverence, than now they are, and [Page 351] when the bruitish World shall see them advanced to the highest Seats of Bliss, and behold that these which once were the most contemptible Creatures, shall judge the World with the Son of God, they will change their Voices, and with the Maltheses be ready to call them Gods, whom but a little before they condemned, as Varlets and Villains.

I conclude this discourse, with St. Peter's exhortation, 2 Pet. 3. 9. 15. The Lord is not slack concerning his Promise, as some men count slackness, but is long­suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to Repentance. But the Day of the Lord will come, as a Thief in the Night; in the which the Heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the Elements shall melt with fervent heat; the Earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burnt up; seeing then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of Persons ought ye to be in all Holy Conversation, and Godliness, looking for, and hastening unto the coming of the Day of God, where­in the Heavens being on Fire shall be dis­solved, [Page 352] and the Elements shall melt with fervent heat; Nevertheless we according to his Promise look for New Heavens, and a New Earth, wherein dwells Righteous­ness; wherefore Beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent, that you may be found of him in Peace, without Spot, and Blameless.

FINIS.

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