REASON. AN ESSAY. BY Sir George Mackenzie.

LONDON, Printed for Iacob Tonson at the Iudges Head in Chancery-lane near Fleetstreet. 1690.

For the Honourable ROBERT BOYL, Esquire.

I Know nothing (Sir) more incon­sistent with right Reason, or which deserves more to be Reform'd a­mongst Learned men, than their way of Dedicating Books: And that we may the better understand what ought to be done in this Age, let us look back into what was done by the Antients.

The Poets did indeed invoke their Gods or the Muses in the beginning of their Works, but that was rather to obtain their assistance, than to bestow upon them Panegyricks; but their praising the Gods was a safe Subject in which they could not exceed: And therefore, though these Invocations were the first occasion of writing Dedi­cations to Mortals, yet Flattery in this made them mistake their Model so far, that at last some of the Poets did likewise invoke the Assistance of their [Page] Emperours, as if they had been Gods as well as Patrons.

Others of the Poets did very anti­ently Dedicate their Works to Men al­so, as Hesiod who was older than Ho­mer, dedicates or rather addresses his first Poem to Perses; but 'tis very ob­servable, that he and others in such like Addresses rather excite the Per­sons to whom they address to Vertue and Glory, than magnify them for ha­ving attain'd to the perfection of either or both. Yet some of these Poets have left us Dedications so excellent, that they are as little to be imitated as censur'd, such as:

Hor. Epist. 1. Lib. 2.
Cum tot sustineas & tanta Negocia solus:
Res Italas Armis tuteris: moribus ornes:
Legibus emendes: in publica Commoda peccem,
Si longo Sermone morer tua tempora, Caesar.

And others of them, such as Virgil, end their Poems with very decent and delicate Complements, as that which closes the 4th Book of his Georgicks,

Haec super arvorum cultu pecorum (que) canebam,
Et super arboribus: Caesar dum magnus ad altum
Fulminat Euphratem bel [...]o, Victor (que) volentes
Per populos dat Jura, viam (que) affectat Olympo.

[Page] which exceed, in my humble Opinion, the fam'd and large Dedications of Grotius and Causabon.

It was usual amongst the modest An­tients, to address their Books to such as they thought able to correct them, seeking rather Advice than Patronage: And thus Plutarch tells us in the Life of Lucullus, That Scylla ha­ving wrote an History, sent it to Lu­cullus to be corrected; [...]. and the Greek word used there, seems to me to import only adlocutio. And I think that the Antients have found Protection and Patronage even in those Addresses wherein Advice was sought for; who durst have cen­sur'd, as Tully observes, what Brutus or Pomponius Atticus approved?

Some also prefixt modest Prefaces, wherein they acknowledged the Fa­vours done them, and told the occasion of their Writing, as Vitruvius to Au­gustus; others did thereafter in imi­tation of the Writers of Tragedies and Comedies, address themselves in a Prologue, as Valerius Maximus to [Page] Tiberius; and this I think he did▪ to give his Fancy scope, as a Poet, to praise with the Latitude that Poets take; for that is the first Debauch I find committed of this kind, for he could not have said greater things to a worse Man.

To shun which Excess, some gave to their Books the Names of the Muses, as Herodotus; or of men of great Merit, as Plato did in his Socrates, or Tully in Laelius, &c. or else omitted all Ad­dresses, as Thucidides, Livy, Salust, or at most extended not their Addres­ses beyond a mere Compellation, such as that in St. Luke to Theophilus, by which possibly may be meant any Christian under this appellative Name, rather than a particular Patron or Friend, as some Books are now addres­sed to the Christian Reader, in imi­tation it may be of him; for 'tis ob­servable that the Church-men imi­tated this [...], of St. Luke, and thus Origen dedicates his Book against Celsus, with this Compellation, [...]: And Eusebius names [Page] his Patron [...].

At last the word Dedication was brought in by Flattery, and Books were dedicated to Men in imitation of their dedicating Temples, Statues, and other things to the Gods; nor did this extravagant way of excessive praising ever appear till the World was under Tiberius corrupted in all its Morals. This depraved Custom was also much heightned by the Panegyricks, made by Pliny to Trajan, and by Eusebius to the Great Constantine, who thought that they might more justly praise the good than others might impious Empe­rours, tho' I am afraid the Eloquence which charms us in those two Discour­ses, shall never be able to account for the ill Example they have given.

My design in all this is to shew, That we can as little justify our Flattery by the Practice of the Antients as by the Principles of Reason, by which they al­ways regulated their Eloquence; And therefore it seems to me, that Dedica­tions should be brought back to the an­tient Model, either of a naked Com­pellation [Page] which satisfies abundantly Friendship, or of acknowledging Fa­vours which satisfies gratitude, or of exciting the persons to whom we write, to deserve those praises which are now most unjustly bestow'd upon them, which is a Christian Duty. And I cannot but observe three very ill Consequences which arise naturally and necessarily from our late Dedications; the first is, That they learn men to lye and flatter, and Custom hath almost legitimated this Crime, and made it a Duty Se­condly, They have poison'd the very Fountains of Truth so far, that Poste­rity can hardly distingnish betwixt those who have deserv'd well or ill, Flattery thinking always fit to supply by its excessive praises, what is wanting in due merit; and therefore by how much their Patrons deserve ill, they praise so much the more, and the on­ly mark of Vertue in an Author or Me­rit in a Patron now is, that there is no extraordinary thing said in any Address to the one by [...]he other; for who can believe an Author speaks truth [Page] in his Book, who lyes and flatters in its very beginning; or that a Patron has any modesty or common sense, who suffers himself to be so imposed upon? If the Patron believe what the Au­thor says, he must be a fool; and if he believes him not, he must think the Author one; and since they who lye im­probably, are thought fools in all things else, why not in this too, in which they exceed the most Romantick Travel­lers, for they only would impose on us in things which we know not, but these in things wherein we cannot but disco­ver them? and I wonder why they do not as well praise the French King for having found out America, or for hav­ing vanquisht Alexander the Great, as for those things which they of late ascribe to him in their Dedications. Thirdly, Our late Dedications have really corrupted the Eloquence of the Age; for whereas the true Ornaments of Eloquence are to be natural and de­cent in expressing our Thoughts, these Dedications have blown our style into a Tympany, and have ruined it's natu­ral [Page] Beauty by fulsome and ill placed daubing Paints: Which made Chrysippus, [...]. as Laertius tells us, de­cry all Dedications to Kings and Prin­ces, lest they should en­tice men to Flattery; but this were to run from one Excess to another.

I Design, Sir, nothing in this Es­say, but to hold out a Lanthorn to those who are ready to split on a Rock; and I wish rather that this may be one of the Works that may follow me, than one of those that may bring me Reputation: And I send this to you as Lucullus did to Scylla for Correction; or as Cicero did to Atticus, as a token of our Friend­ship, and of my just esteem of your Piety and Learning.

G. M.

How weakly Men reason in matters of greatest Impor­tance.

IT may seem a bold Underta­king in any man to owne right Reason in this Age, it being the declared Enemy of our interests and inclinations, for it may possibly excite man to re­flect upon what the World and himself does, and so inspire him with thoughts contrary to those which are generally received, and that is the only unpardonable Er­rour. It may likewise seem ridi­culous to think, that there is any common Standard of Reason a­mongst [Page 4] men, since that charms in one Country, which is abhor­red in others, and the very ima­ginary lines which divide King­doms, seem likewise to divide their way of thinking, and to make a different Geography in the Reason which they adore, as well as in the Earth on which they tram­ple; every Age of the World has almost had a different way of rea­soning, and every Age in Man suggests to him contrary thoughts, in the present he condemns what himself formerly admir'd: So lit­tle influence has it upon the best refin'd Judicatures and Assemblies, that the most infallible Church­men, the most learned Judges, and the most zealous Patriots must trust to Voting, because they can­not to Reasoning, and they are by this likewise so often misled, that it may be expected men will one day agree to decide matters by the fewest Votes, as the wiser [Page 5] have always told us, that Votes are rather to be weighed, than numbred. It has often grieved me, that men could guess the de­cision and determination of any point to be debated, before they heard the Reasons to be produced upon either side, and to hear them laugh at such as trusted to the solidity of the Reasons they were to produce, being fully convinced that the point would be determi­ned by Interest, and not by Rea­son. The Inka of Peru was much in the right, when he regreted, that his Predecessors had not obli­ged him to worship a reasonable Man; yet his choice in this had been unsuccessful; for it would have been as hard to have found him, except he had believed his Priest, who had undoubtedly told him he was the man. And tho' I believe not that French Physician who assures us, he found in his Travels a Nation that differed al­together [Page 6] from us in our way of reasoning, as if God design'd to shew Mankind that his Omnipo­tency is not tyed in this to any known measures; yet I see, even amongst our selves, that Conve­niency (the gentler name of A­varice) Pride, Revenge, Bigotry, Education, and every thing else pass for Reason, except Reason it self, which makes me oft-times cry out, Is this that noble Creature for­med after the Image of God, for whom Christ dyed, and who is to be Co-heir with him of his everlasting Kingdoms. All which notwith­standing it is undeniably true, that there is something in man more sublime than can be ascribed to flesh and blood, that dull matter could never inspire him with these penetrating, subtil, comprehensive, generous, and elevated thoughts, which made the Pagans believe, that his Soul was particula Divinae Naturae, a parcel of that same Di­vine [Page 7] Substance of which the Gods were formed, and that men so qualified were demi-Gods, and God Almighty himself has by a surer Revelation revealed to us, that this Noble Soul was formed after his Image, and it was most consequential that God who is in­finite, being to communicate him­self to some of his Creatures, to the end his Greatness and Good­ness might be known to them, he should in order to this breathe in­to them somewhat that might comprehend, at least, some Ideas of that infinite Perfection; and therefore it was necessary that the Soul should be an image of what was infinite, and that we might understand this from some exte­riour and sensible representations and things, he has formed his very body (the Casket wherein that Noble Jewel is kept) after a very wonderful manner, thus by small and interceptible Rays darted in­to [Page 8] his Eye, the representations of the vast Hemisphere, are imprin­ted so on that little Tablet, that it seems as great and distinct there, as in the Original; all he ever heard is laid up in his memory, as distinctly as Papers in a Ca­binet. And almost by the same motion of the Tongue; or at least, without any studied va­riation, vast numbers of delicate words, or harmonious sounds, do, in a way unknown, and unperceptible by Flesh and Blood, sally out in mighty Swarms and Armies, which passing thus un­discovered, through the Air, en­ter at many thousand Ears in the same Figure, Ranks, and Files, wherein they were at first spoke; and there, in a spiritual way, they charm some, and en­rage others; they animate some, and discourage others; working almost as great varieties as they bring.

[Page 9] Divine Wisdom also foreseeing that Interest would perswade men to pull all to pieces, whilst each drew all to himself, he imprest up­on this Soul common Principles, which even those must reverence who neglect them, and therefore they err, not in the rule, but in the application, and cheat them­selves by Subterfuges, the recur­ring to which infers necessarily, that these Principles are submitted to by the most stubborn, and some­what respected by the wildest in sublunary matters; and yet in what concerns our immortal Souls, and eternal state, we are more negligent, as will appear too clear­ly by these following Particulars which I have classed according to their different inferences.

I have oft-times admir'd to see men busied about nothing, save ex­ternal and sensual Objects; but it is yet stranger to find, that a­mongst such as are convinc'd, that [Page 10] Knowledge is as much to be pre­ferr'd to all other things, as the Soul is to the Body; there are yet some so sensual, even in this point, that the knowledge they seek after is but a meer delicate sensuality. Mathematicians consi­der chiefly how to measure Bo­dies, Physicians how to know and cure men, as Souldiers do how to destroy them. But the study of Christian Morality (which has for its Object the Soul of Man heightned by the Christian Reli­gion, teaching him how to un­derstand the duty of that Soul to God) is too much neglected, as a thing obvious and easie: Where­as when our Saviour came into the World, he neither taught Mathe­maticks, Medicine, nor Physiolo­gy, tho' all these were much con­sidered in that Age wherein he assum'd our Nature; and he could have made himself as much ad­mir'd by clearing mysterious [Page 11] doubts in these, as by working Miracles; but he passing by all these as less useful Notions, and such as too frequently divert and distract, rather than inform; he de­clares he was come to make Man happy, and begins his Ministry by an admirable Sermon on the Mount, whereby, in order to the making him happy, he teaches him to reason rightly upon his duty to God and Men: and it is strange, that we should think dull matter is able to afford more no­ble Contemplations, than that sub­tle, that sublime, that vast, and that nimble Soul, which retains so far the Image of its Maker, as to be inscrutable in all its facul­ties: and Oh what wonderful Springs and Motions, what va­rious windings and flights, what boundless and new Spheres and Worlds are there in his Reflecti­ons, and what things are daily said, and Volumes written on the [Page 12] Love to Women, which is but the excursion of one of them. Our diseases cannot conceal themselves being tyed to matter, but the dis­eases of our immortal Souls are so concealed by Self-love, which loves to cover its own imperfecti­ons, and to hide its own retreats, that they are past finding out; and if a little Microscope can dis­cover to the Eye new and strange things in Objects that have been daily seen, without being conside­red for many Ages; what won­derful discoveries may serious thinking men make in so immense an Object that has been so much neglected? especially since the thoughts of Man do change and vary themselves into as many shapes, and give themselves as many colours as they please: and every Duty or Errour is really a different Object as they are in conjunction with, or in opposition to one another; whereas all other [Page 13] Objects are incapable of such Va­riations either from themselves or others: And tho' God has de­sign'd to be known in his Works, yet he seems on purpose to have made the knowledge of them so unsearchable to Natural Philoso­phers, and the success so little able to reward or honour their Endea­vours, to the end they might the more relish Moral Philosophy, which is then only uncertain when like the other it grows more a Sci­ence than a Duty.

In my reasoning I will use the Forms prescrib'd by God himself in his holy Scriptures; wherein when he would convince man of his Folly, Sin, or Ingratitude, he argues with him from his own concessions, in these cases, or his own practice, on all other occa­sions: As for instance, when he sends Nathan to David, he asks him what the Man deserv'd, who having great Herds and Flocks [Page 14] of his own, took a poor Man's Lamb out of his Bosom? And David, having in great anger sworn that he should die, Na­than then tells him, it was his case, and condemns him from his own mouth: And God says to his People, who acknowledg'd him to be their Lord and Fa­ther, but walk'd not suitably to their acknowledgment. If I be a Father, where is mine Honour, and if I be a Master, where is my Fear? Malach. 1. 6. He calls to them, Isai. 1. 18. Come, let us reason together; and admiring the unreasonableness of unthinking Man, he appeals to the Heavens and Earth, Hear, O Heavens, and give ear, O Earth, for the Lord hath spoken! I have nou­rished and brought up Children, and they have rebelled against me! The Ox knoweth his Owner, and the Ass his Master's Crib: But Israel doth not know, my People [Page 15] do not consider! And in the se­veral Gospels, we find our bles­sed Saviour, after the same man­ner, confuting the Iews, and con­vincing all his Hearers. Nor do I find so much delicate reasoning in any of those Books, highly esteem'd by our Men of Sense, who slight too much that admi­rable one, which God himself owns as his sacred Word: And I admire our Saviour, as much for his Reasonings as for his Mi­racles. Thus when he would con­vince Men of the folly of care­ing immoderately for the things of this World, he asks them, What profit shall it be to gain all the World, that soon perishes, if they lose their own Soul, which is Immortal? And which of you, (says our Lord) by taking thought, can add one cubit to his stature? And urges them, not to fear want, because, if they who are sinful know how to provide [Page 16] for their own Families, how much more shall your Father, which is in Heaven, know how to provide for you, if ye be his Children? Behold, (says our blessed Maker) the Fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, yet your Heavenly Fa­ther feedeth them; are not you much better than they?

For establishing this my Po­sition, it is fit to consider, that such as are reasonable, endea­vour to shew it in the greatest concerns; and it implies a want, or weakness of Reason, to be ex­act and delicate in inconsidera­ble and silly things, and yet to err and be careless in matters of greatest consequence: And who would not laugh at an Ambas­sadour or a General, who would value himself upon his Dancing or Playing upon the Lute, be­stowing upon these Exercises the time due to his King, Country, [Page 17] and Negotiations; which makes me admire, why in this foolish Age, we call these Men of good Senses, and strong Spirits, who can criticise Virgil, Iuvenal, Livie, Tacitus, or it may be, understand the Mathematicks, or Conversa­tion; whil'st we are convinc'd, that albeit they believe there is a God, yet they mind him not, and care less for their Souls than they do for any of their ordi­nary recreations, tho' they are forc'd to tremble at its ill condi­tion, when they begin to con­sider it.

One of the things which prompted me to write this Book, was the reading of a French Trea­tise, De la Iustesse▪ wherein, tho' he made me expect great mat­ters, by promising to learn us to think justly; yet it only taught how to chuse true Epi­thets, or understand Criticisms, and such trivial knacks: But, [Page 18] alas, it is more to be regreted, that Men should have the sense to laugh at others, for not ha­ving considered the Plot and de­sign of their Plays; whil'st ma­ny who pass for refin'd Wits, want one in their whole life; and where the want of it is not only a greater shame, but is of greater danger, since a Man can­not err here without being rui­ned to all eternity: And one of these great Wits, without a solid design in his life, appears to me, like a glorious, first-rate Ship, magnificently equipp'd, richly gilded, and abundantly provided of all necessaries; but because it wants a Rudder, and a skilful Pilot, fluctuating in a great Storm, and near a dan­gerous Shore, on which it is dri­ven with violence, threaten'd by the Wind, and overflown by the Billows; sometimes shatter'd by one Rock, and sometimes by a­nother, [Page 19] till at last it sinks down irrecoverably into an unfathom­able and dreadful Abyss. Whe­ther then is the Owner of this Ship, who looks on unconcern­edly, and perhaps, would not leave his Whore, Game, or Sup­per; or that Poet, who wrote his Play without a Plot, most to be contemn'd? Yet he who has no design to save his immortal Soul from endless torments, is a much greater Fool than either; which recommends to me the sense of a Wiser, tho' a Heathen Poet, on this subject, and which I wish the whole Tribe would seriously consider.

Discite, ô iniseri, & causas cognoscite rerum,
Quid sumus, & quidnam victuri gignimur, ordo,
Quis datus, aut metae quam m [...]llis flexus & [...]nde.
Quis modus argento, quid fas optare, quid asper.
Vtile nummus habet: patriae carisque propinquis
Quantum elargiri deceat: quem to Deus esse
Iussit & humana qua parte locatus es in re.

It is a pleasant thing to hear [Page 20] us admire Men, for considering exactly the Anatomy, Specialities, and Natures of Fishes, Fowls, Flies, and other Insects; and yet never consider whence them­selves came, whither they are going, or what is their duty whilst they remain here. And I wonder why we should think it just, to look upon Men in Bedlam, tho' they be very rea­sonable in many things, if they be very distracted in any one; as I know one, who seem'd a discreet Person, and could con­verse most pertinently in every thing, till they spoke of the Moon; but upon hearing that nam'd, fell instantly a staring, and into great extravagancies, believing himself to be Secretary to the Moon: And others will be dis­creet enough, till you mention the name of such a Man or Wo­man; and yet we do not con­clude such mad and distracted, [Page 21] who, tho' they understand to measure Heaven, never design to enter into it; and who can e­loquently convince Men of eter­nal Torments, and fright them from the wicked course which lead to these, and yet ruine themselves on the precipices a­gainst which they guard others. And who would not think a Physician mad, for all his skill, if after he had made a learned discourse, to prove a liquor to be Poison, he should drink it off himself; and yet more, if he would not take an Antidote, tho' ready, and which he knew would secure him.

I shall but lightly touch that ridiculous and impudent extrava­gance of some, who, rather pre­tending to reason, than having it, take pains to perswade them­selves and others, that there is not a God, whilst even the subtilty which they use, when they are [Page 22] endeavouring to prove this their Assertion, does necessarily prove his Being: It being impossible, that Matter and Chance, (their great Idols) could forge and po­lish such subtile notions: And how can they imagine, that since their own little Affairs could not be managed without foresight and conduct, that yet this Great and Glorious Universe, which com­prehends so many Millions, such as they, should be so exactly and justly governed, by blind Chance? If there were no Men but the sillie and humorous As­serters of this Opinion, I should be asham'd to bring Man as an instance of the Power and Wis­dom of God: Let us then con­sider this Creature, form'd of I know not what, fed, breathing, and growing in the Womb, we know not how; but from those despicable beginnings, one rises in a short time, to measure the [Page 23] Heavens, to calculate their Mo­tions, and to imitate their Light­ning and Thunder; another does for his own Glory, form such Models of Religion as seduces, and draws after him Millions of Men, contrary to their former Interests, as well as former Inclinations: A Third, by his Skill, Conduct, and Courage, makes even the remotest Countries of the World to tremble, overturning, and con­founding that World, whereof he is so small a part: And a Fourth, by drawing sweetly, and gently together very distant and different reflections, and thoughts, which come readily, as it were, upon his call, from their several repositories, forms an Harangue, or a Poem, which pleases or tor­ments the hearers irresistably, as they have commission from their Author; it being harder to resist them than to make them: Can [Page 24] so regular things be ascrib'd to wild Chance, or such subtile things to dull Matter, which by its Nature, moves necessarily and with­out choice? The best contriv'd Ma­chine can only repeat; but Man chuses his own thoughts, and va­ries or changes them as he plea­ses.

I desire our Wits to consider, that every thing which they see, or know, is so marvellously fitted to some use, that as they could not be wanted, so they cannot be contrived better: And it is ridi­culous to answer with Epicurus, (who, tho' he denied Providence, yet denied not a Deity) that these things were not made for these uses, as we pretend, but were, in process of time, made use of to these ends by Wit or Necessity: For even Bruits do immediately after they are brought forth, run to those things which they need, [Page 25] with greater exactness than Man could teach them; and how could Men, by Reason, make every thing useful, if so infinite a Being did not direct and supervise their almost infinitely various Necessi­ties and Designs, and instruct them, by the use of Thinking, (that wonderful Engine) to accommo­date every thing to its true use. The next thing I recommend to them, is to consider that all the Principles of Justice and Govern­ment, without which, the World could not subsist, depend upon the belief of this infinite Being; for how could I convince a Man without this, that it were not fit to poyson his Brother for an Estate; or his Prince, when he thought that by that he might step into his Throne; which oft­times might be done covertly enough, to escape the punishment of Laws, if they could that of Conscience: Nor is it of any force [Page 26] to tell us, that Politicians have only invented this for their own conveniency, since even this an­swer presupposes that there was a pre-disposition on the Spirits of Men, to receive and submit to this impression, which is an un­answerable proof of its truth; and this trick had not been long believ'd, had it been only such; nor could their inventions secure us against private Treachery, tho' it could against open Force; nor can I omit to observe from this answer, how unfit these Men would be to govern others, and how unsufferable they are under all Governments; who thus ex­pose to contempt that which they confess to be the great Engine of Government. I might like­wise urge the consent of all Na­tions, which, by how much they became the more polish'd and ci­viliz'd, do so much the more rest on this belief. The certainty that [Page 27] has arisen from Predictions which are above Nature, and the won­derful Effects wrought by Mira­cles, even against it, are confirm'd to us, by the unerring testimony of those Senses, which our A­theists make the only and sure test of Knowledge. And do not we perceive, that that light of Reason, which by constant and penetrating reflections, in time, discover'd, overcame, and baffled every Cheat and Errour; has notwithstanding, more fully fix'd, ascertain'd, and clear'd the Being of a God, whose Power affords us such Protection; and whose Providence affords us such beau­tiful and pleasant Contemplati­ons, that to love that life, with­out believing his Being, is to be without that Sense and Wit which these wild Scepticks pretend to; who, whil'st they shun to be mi­serable, make themselves so, and whil'st they pretend to pass for [Page 28] Wits, demonstrate themselves to be Fools, and Brutish. I purpose­ly avoid the proof of this by Metaphysical Arguments, because God's own way of proving it, is, by desiring us to consider the Sun, Moon, and Stars, and the other Objects which are obvious to all Men; for it was fit, that what was to be universally be­liev'd, should be inferr'd from what was universally seen: And such as understand not those Me­taphysical Notions, are apt to beli [...]e that there is a design to impose upon them.

But since our curiosity must be always somewhat satisfied with Arguments raised above Sense, I shall offer this one: It cannot be deny'd, but that there is some­thing in Man that can compare two or more different things, such as, Whether the pain of the Head or the Leg be greatest? [Page 29] And that this cannot be done by any thing that is material, is very clear; for if so, it must be done by something that touches at once both the things to be compared, and no material thing can do that in the same points; and if it be in different points, then it cannot judge of the dif­ference betwixt the two; for they must be touched in one common point, else there can be no application of the mate­rial Judge, to both, at the same time: And if this judgment must be made by something in Man that is immaterial, and so is able to extend its indivisible self to both the things to be compared; then it necessarily follows, that this must be a Sp­rit; for there can be nothing im­material bur a Spirit; and if we can once comprehend a Spi­rit, we can never deny there is a God: For the hardest things [Page 30] that are objected against his Be­ing, are those which strike a­gainst the Being of Spirits in ge­neral.

Because few or none are re­ally distracted by this kind of Madness, tho' they could wish they were, by smothering their Reason with Illusions, that they may cover their Crimes to them­selves, with the hopes of Impu­nity, I hasten to another kind of unreasonable Men, who, tho' they acknowledge there is a God, do yet, by a deplorable negli­gence, little mind how to please and obey him. And that I may enforce upon my Reader, the weakness of their Reasonings, I wish any of us would think, that if a Society of Men were Shipwrack'd upon, or sent Priso­ners to an unknown Isle, were it not most unreasonable for them, to sit Reading, Discoursing, or [Page 31] Gaming, and not to think who were Masters of that Isle, and how they might live in it; and if they learn'd that it belong'd to a great Prince, who had ab­solute power of Life and Death, were it not unreasonable, not to desire to obtain his friendship? But much more to reject it, if he offer'd it with Riches and Preferment, upon no other con­dition, save that they would attend at his Court, love him, and not wrong one another? But this is our condition in a much strong­er case; for we are here in a World created by God Almighty, in which he can kill and pre­serve, not the Body only, but the Soul too; nor for some time only, but for ever; nor requires he any harder condition of us, than that we would love the Lord our God with all our Hearts, and our Neighbours as our selves; which are so far from being hard [Page 32] Lessons, that one would think we could not but take great de­light in them, if they were not prescrib'd to us as our Duty: For if a Man be admir'd once for his great Courage, Conduct, or Learning, who would not be pleas'd with being allow'd to converse with him? Who a­mongst us would not have taken pains to have been lov'd by Cae­sar, as his Friend, but more, as his Son? But if Caesar had been as expert a Mathematician as he was a Souldier, and could have burnt his Enemies Ships, like Archimedes; if he had invented Gun-powder for his Magazins, and found out the whole new World, as well as conquer'd a conside­rable part of the old: How much more would we yet have esteem'd him? And to proceed further, if this Caesar could either have sav'd his own life, by knowing the secrets of, or by killing alone [Page 33] all his Assassinates, or prolong'd for many hundreds of years that of his Servants; we should yet more have rejoyced in his Service and Adoption: But what is all this to the Infinite Perfecti­on of the Great King of Kings, whose Servants, Friends, nay, and adopted Sons we may be? He it is who govern'd Caesar, as he does the Flies or Ants, who, with one word made Caesar, and all the Wrld, whereof he conquer'd only a part, which he was not able to retain. By whose skill, the Heavens were stretch­ed out, in which, vain Caesar's greatest Ambition was to be a little Star: Who not only knows, but in one moment, governs all the various, and almost infinite thoughts and designs of Angels, Men, and Devils; and who forces them all, how contrary soever to one another, to agree in the [Page 34] great designs he has in govern­ing the World.

Who would not rejoyce to serve a Master, that knew when he were innocent, and who, as he is exactly just to his Ser­vants, so could not be impos'd upon by others, to their preju­dice; and tho' even swarms of Witnesses combined against them, could see through the Mists that they threw up, which no Earthly Master, how just so­ever, can do? But such is our Heavenly Master, who can also not only enrich us when we are poor, and cure us when we are sick; but can tame our Passions, illuminate our Ignorance, strength­en our Inclinations, sweeten our Tempers, and make all these Joys compleat, by the removal of all Fears or Jealousies that can end or lessen them. Can we give a­ny reasonable account, why we [Page 35] should be careful to keep the Road exactly, if we knew there were great Precipices on every hand, into which whoever fell, were irrecoverable; and yet know­ing, that in our voyage to E­ternity, there are Precipices that lead to dreadful Pits of Fire and Brimstone, kindled by the wrath of an angry God: We notwith­standing, go on carelesly, laugh­ing at such as admonish us, and minding little trifles, which we are convinc'd will please no long­er than we possess them.

How falsly do we reason, in reflecting on our selves and o­thers? For we think them mad who endeavour not to get them­selves cur'd, when they find they are tormented with Gout and Gravel; yet who amongst us is at any pains, so much as to seek remedies for his Passions and Vi­ces, which of all other Diseases [Page 36] torment us most: And if we heard a Fellow in Livery, value himself upon the Richness of his Suit, would we not esteem him an airy and foolish Creature? But if we saw a Man who were con­demned, and going to the Scaf­fold, admire himself, and talk of his Power and Glory, would we not conclude him distracted? And yet this is the true State of a Vain and Glorious Monarch, who has nothing but what he has re­ceiv'd from an Infinite God, who can recal it when he pleases; and who▪ whil'st he talks of his Glory and Greatness, is by that God condemn'd to die, as irre­deemably, as must the meanest Slave, over whom he insults. And since we would laugh at a vain Coxcomb, who whilst he were entertaining his friends in his Ma­ster's house, as if it were his own, were taken out of it by the ears, and forc'd to tremble under the [Page 37] lash; how ridiculous must we con­clude Belshazzar (and which is the case of too many other great Men) who whilst he was feasting all his Nobles, and perswading them of His independance, was seized by an irresistable horrour which shak'd him all to pieces.

I doubt not for all this but Lear­ned men will think they may just­ly value themselves on their own great Parts and Skill; and you may read long Lectures made by them on this Subject; but how unreasonable are they in this, since these Endowments are given them as external things are given to others; and a School-Boy may more justly admire himself, be­cause he can repeat excellent lines made by another: or a man, be­cause the borrowed Furniture, that he would make us believe to be his own, were within, and not without doors, or were finer than [Page 38] that borrowed stuff which ano­ther had, whom he despis'd. If two poor men should borrow, the one ten, and the other a thousand pounds, the difference of the bor­rowed Summs should not cease to leave both of them equally poor. But he is really a wise and reasonable man, who knowing that what he has is borrow'd, en­deavours not to boast of it as his own, but to repay as much as he can the Interest to the true Owner for the Loan. Let us then con­clude this Period with the Apo­stle's just reasoning, 1 Cor. 4. 7. For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?

Being once in company with a great Wit, who seeing two poor Chair-men sweat in carrying a gross corpulent vain Fellow; he [Page 39] cry'd out, that he had rather be hang'd than serve so meanly such a Rogue. Whereupon I told him he was doing a meaner thing, in bear­ing up the Extravagancies of a vio­lent and tyrannous Statesman, to please whose extravagant humour, I had seen him sweat more than these poor men did; who had also in this the advantage of him, that they did so to get bread for their Family, whereas he did the other to feed that Ambition and Avarice which tended to destroy him­self.

Man's unreasonableness appears also in the unsuitableness of the Means he uses, to the Ends he pro­poses to himself. Who would not think him a Fool, who would en­deavour to cure a mad Dog by putting a golden Collar about his Neck? Or who would think to cure a Fever in a man by bestow­ing a great Office on him? But [Page 40] are not men such Fools, when they think they can quiet their Passions by Riches, or their Minds by ad­vancement? Spiritual distempers are to be cur'd by spiritual means, and as the finest Thoughts cannot feed the body, so neither can the greatest Riches, or any other ex­ternal thing satisfie the immaterial Soul.

If I were desirous to get Pre­ferment, would not I endeavour to please him from whom I were to expect it, and not his Enemies? but tho' we say that we expect, or at least wish to be Favourites to God Almighty, and to be by him happy for ever; yet we spend not our time in obeying him, but in serving openly and assiduously the World, the Devil, and our own Lusts, which are his declar'd Enemies; and that too so reso­lutely, that any reasonable man cannot upon considering our acti­ons, but conclude, That either we [Page 41] car'd not for what he could give, or else that we were subtle enough to cheat him, or strong enough to over-power him.

If a man were going to live in another Country, would he not endeavour to accustom himself to the Customs of it, and to carry with him things that were useful in that Country? And would we not laugh at him, if he spent his time in building and adorning that Inne which he were to leave? But this is our condition, who bestow all our thoughts on the things of this World, from which we should expect to remove every moment, and in which we cannot stay long.

It is most strange that men, to secure themselves against Fortune, should put themselves more and more into its power: For the re­medies we use are to grow richer [Page 42] and greater, and nothing subjects us more to accidents than these do; for it is for these that men are pursued, and destroyed, and they are oftner crimes than de­fences.

God has promised, that if we seek we shall find, if we knock it shall be opened; so that Prayer is the true way to attain to what is desirable: and men may pray securely at their own Bed-side, or in walking about their own Field. But yet men will leave this sure, safe, and easie way; and sail to the Indies amidst storms, and tra­vel through the Desarts of Arabia amongst Thieves, to get unneces­sary Riches; expose themselves to Cannons, and watch in Camps to get Honours, trusting the Seas, Winds, and Cannons more than their own kind and merciful Fa­ther, who made and governs all these.

[Page 43] When we have Children, we are very desirous to leave them well secur'd, and consequently provide them Estates; but tho' we take pains to breed our Colts, and Hawks, we take no pains in teaching our Children their duty to their Master, as we do those Beasts; and probably by not be­ing bred to a just way of reason­ing, they may lose by one extra­vagance all that we have left them, or at least live unhappily in not knowing how to use it aright. And the same Parents which would bestow their Estates to free their Children from burning for a month in a Fever, will, to get them a little addition to that same state, breed them so, as may oc­casion their burning to all Eter­nity.

If any man were guilty of Cri­mes, and so needed the King's Pardon, would we not think him a meer Brute, if he should instead [Page 44] of seeking it earnestly and sincere­ly, run up and down railing at him, and reviling his Laws? Yet most of our Wits, who have indeed more guilt than wit, and are not sure what moment they shall be damn'd for ever, make it their business, rather than sport, to treat in ridicule his Divine Majesty and Laws.

Let us a little examine the un­reasonableness of mens arguing in matters of Honour, wherein they pretend to be so exact, and deli­cate, and we shall be convinc'd how weak their Reason is.

And in the first place, would not right Reason dictate to us, that those things are fittest for men of Honour, which are most approv'd and recommended by that Judge whom all acknowledge to under­stand best what is great, glorious, and just? Who would believe any thing to be honourable for a Soul­dier, which Caesar or Mareshal [Page 45] Turenne had condemned as unjust and mean? And if this Rule hold, we must conclude, That it is the Almighty God, the Glorious Ma­ker of Heaven and Earth, and of the heart of man, and not the in­solent Courtier, the huffing He­ctor, or the unstable and igno­rant Rabble, who must give the Rules to just Honour and true Grandeur. Nor should the best of moral men be able to perswade us, that any thing [...] is honourable, but according as it agrees with the reveal'd Will of that Omnipo­tent and Infallible Judge; for if he be Infallible, it is ridiculous that his judgment should not be acquiesc'd in; and if we think him not Infallible, we cannot think he is God.

If any man should call one per­jur'd, especially if he were a Per­son of Quality, he would resent it irreconcileably; and yet are not all such as are guilty of Adul­tery, [Page 46] guilty of Perjury? and to aggravate this Perjury, it is Per­jury against a Lady, to injure whom, and to whom the breach of an ordinary promise would be thought a shameful Crime; but yet much more, when it is considered, that upon that Oath the Lady had deliver'd her self up, and by the like Oath had forsaken all the rest of mankind: So then, if Perjury be a Villainy, when committed in the most tri­vial things, and to a person who neve [...] obliged us; what can it then be, when committed in the greatest concern, and when the Oath was given in the most con­siderate manner, and under the greatest obligation to the most deserving person, and to one of that delicate Sex, which the most unworthy are unwilling to injure or cheat?

I doubt not, but all who pre­tend to Reason, will acknowledge, [Page 47] that Ingratitude is the most abo­minable of all Vices, and most inconsistent with true Honour. And if a Prince had obliged one of his Subjects, behaving himself as a kind Father to him; would he not be a very Rogue if he were ungrateful; but yet more, if he refused to obey him, after many Promises and Vows, nay, and after many Pardons, having several times relapsed again and again into those Crimes, and even employed the Forces, with which the King had trusted him, against himself? And yet the King of Kings, and our Heavenly Father, having heaped hourly such favours on us, that it needs a mans whole time to repeat them, because eve­ry moment of our time makes a part of them, we ungrateful Mis­creants employ all the strength of our Spirits and Bodies in of­fending him daily, to that height, that tho' we our selves tremble [Page 48] when we think with confusion upon them, and vow against, and mourn for them; yet we reasona­ble men return with the Dog to the vomit, and with the Sow to the puddle; and add the breach of our new Vows to our old sins.

I know that Pride has form'd for its own defence a body of Law call'd Point of Honour; as one in­stance whereof, amongst others, I urge how unreasonably men re­pair their Honour, in endeavour­ing to take a man's life for a word, damning both themselves and him, and by way of Complement draw­ing innocent men (and such or­dinarily as have the greatest Kind­ness for them) into the same ha­zard and condemnation; which in spight of all the Gallantry imagi­nable, does prove how little use of true Reason men have, tho' they value themselves very much, as if they were the sole Masters of it. For this is not only contrary [Page 49] to the Law of God, the true Fountain of Honour, as of all good, but to the Laws of our Country: And what can be more absurd, than that some private, young, and ranting Hectors should be able to make that pass for generous and gallant, which whole Nations as­sembled have after much reason­ing and deliberation condemned as a Crime in all Ages and Coun­tries; and even the same men, who brag of this when enrag'd, and in the field, condemn it in Parliament and in cold blood? But nothing discredits this He­roism more, than that those, who would not yield up their revenge to God, nor their Conscience, have been frighted from it by the French King and the Gallows.

If one man give another the Lye, he must pay down his life, because a Man of Honour would rather chuse to dye than to be a Lyar, or rather thought one; but [Page 50] this Man of Honour will flatter, till all Men laugh at him for lying so grosly; and this Elo­quence of Knaves must likewise make his Patron a Fool, for be­ing capable to believe what none believes, save himself; so that this Flatterer, who yet passes for a Man of true Honour, makes him­self a Liar, and his Patron a Fool. How oftentimes also have we seen these Men of Honour lie and flat­ter, to promote Faction, and to please the Multitude, which they were thereby designing to cheat, as if the addition of a Cheat could make a Lie honourable. Rebellion and Pimping are No­ble flights of Glory and Kind­ness, to which, fashionable Men, and Men of Honour can only pretend, and a Prerogative de­ny'd to those Men who are tru­ly virtuous. If Men, who are tender of their Reputation, were reasonable, would they not con­sider, [Page 51] that all these their Crimes and Vices are known to that Great God, who is the Fountain of Truth, and the Rule of Pu­rity, and shall at the Great Day be known to Men and Angels? If a Lady considered, that all her unchast thoughts, and a Per­son who passes for an Honest Man, that all his Secrets and Cheats would be discover'd to their Neigh­bours, though as guilty as they, it would confound them: How then will all Men look, when the Sins they are endeavouring to cover, shall be laid open in that Illustrious Assembly, where In­nocence and Knowledge shall be in such high perfection? How can we then be judg'd Reason­able Creatures, when we dare do that before the Almighty God, who is of purer eyes than that he can behold iniquity, which we durst not attempt before our own Servants, who depend on [Page 52] us, and are as frail as our selves? And if we cannot abide the Ac­cusation of our own Conscience, how shall we be able to hold up our Faces in so glorious a Judi­cature? And can Men be Rea­sonable Creatures, and yet not mind so great a Concern?

Fame, that tacite acknowledg­ment of Immortality, even in those who believe it not, is pur­sued so extravagantly, that Ido­latry it self is not more inexcu­sable: For to gain the opinion of a brutal multitude, we sa­crifice to them our Duty, our Quiet and our Security; and what design can we have, or return can we expect for all this? For if we be not Immortal, what sig­nifies our being esteem'd, when we are to have no being? And why should we give our selves real Trouble for an imaginary Good? And if we believe the Christian Religion, it teaches us, [Page 53] that either we must be sav'd or damn'd; if sav'd, Fame from Men will signifie nothing, when we discover how foolish we were to adore such Worms; if damn'd, that which made a great part of our Crime, cannot be an al­leviation of its Punishment. But if a Man, believing there is a God, did argue justly, he would value highly the being esteem'd by that Wisdome that cannot err, and whose fuffrage will last to all Eternity. Men can only raise our Character, without being able to raise our Merit, but our great Master can really make us me­rit, and open the eyes of others to understand it, when true, which no Man can do, and his esteem brings Rewards suitable to its Greatness; and therefore is only worthy of our pains, especially if we bestowed that pains in serving him, which we do in gaining Fame; we might expect [Page 54] from his goodness what can ne­ver be valuable when obtain'd from Men, because of their mean­ness; or secure, because of their Injustice or Caprice. If we saw any of our acquaintance running up and down among mean and ignorant People, to perswade them to praise and admire him, we would laugh at his folly, as well as vanity; but this is the con­dition of us poor blind Sinners, who are sick and dejected, if our silly, blind Fellow-Mortals do not admire us, and praise our Actions.

I have remark'd in my own time, that some, by taking too much care to be esteem'd and ad­mir'd, have by that course miss'd their aim, whil'st others of them, who shunn'd it, did meet with it, as if it had fallen on them, whil'st it was flying from the others; which proceeded from the unfit means these able and reasonable [Page 55] Men took to establish their Re­putation. It is very strange to hear Men value themselves upon their Honour, and their being Men of their word in Trifles, when yet that same Honour can­not tie them to pay the debts they have contracted upon so­lemn Promises, of secure and speedy repayment, starving poor Widows and Orphans, to feed their Lusts; and adding thus, Robbery and Oppression to the dishonourable breach of Trust. And how can we think them Men of Honour, who, when a Potent and Foreign Monarch is oppressing his weaker Neighbours, hazard their very lives to assist him, tho' they would rail at a­ny of their acquaintance, that meeting a strong Man fighting with a weaker, should assist the stronger in his Oppression.

The surest and most pleasant path to universal Esteem, and [Page 56] true Popularity, is to be just; for all Men esteem him most, who secures most their private Interest, and protects best their Innocence; and all who have a­ny notion of a Deity, believe that Justice is one of his chief Attri­butes; and that therefore, who­ever is just, is next in Nature to Him, and the best Picture of Him; and to be reverenc'd and lov'd: But yet, how few trace this Path, most Men chusing rather to toil and vex themselves, in seeking Popular Applause, by living high, and in profuse Prodigalities, which are entertain'd by Injustice and Oppression, as if rational Men would pardon Robbers, because they feasted them upon a part of their own Spoils; or did let them see fine and glorious Shows, made for the honour of the gi­ver, upon the expence of the robb'd Spectators. But when a virtuous Person appears Great by [Page 57] his Merit, and obey'd only by the charming force of his Rea­son, all Men think him descend­ed from that Heaven which he serves, and to him they gladly pay the noble Tribute of deserv­ed Praises.

Another great Class of Argu­ments, to prove how ill Men reason in matters of greatest im­portance, may be brought from the Contradictions we are guilty of in our Conduct. As for In­stance, Life is the thing in the World most valu'd, for without it, we can enjoy nothing; and yet, so unreasonable are we, that for a Complement, we will ha­zard it so far, as may be rather call'd a losing of it. When time is going, we cry out against Pro­vidence, for having made it so short, and when it is gone, we would give all the World to re­deem it; and yet we are weary of it so far as to bestow Money [Page 58] upon any thing that will help to spend it; and give it away in Vi­sits, to such, to whom we would not give any thing else. We would for no Money quit one Year of our Life; and yet for the same Money; which we so undervalue in the express exchange, most Men do really give away very many of their best years, since they are spent in gaining Money.

We exclaim against Tyranny, Usurpation and Oppression, and in this we are much in the right: But why then do we admire, and cry up such as have been great Oppressors and Usurpers, as Alex­ander, Coesar? for in this, we are not only unjust upon the mat­ter, but Enemies to our selves; for that esteem we put upon them who have been such, invites o­thers to make us the prey of our own Errors.

Most Men do admire, and pre­fer themselves to all others, which [Page 59] is a great proof of our unreason­ableness; but yet, even these can­not stay with themselves, and by being afraid to look into their own hearts, contradict the esteem which yet at all times they have for themselves, to an unsufferable Excess. All Men desire to prefer the best Company; and when Men prefer any Company to the being alone, they demonstrate that themselves are not the best. Most Men, when they are young, contemn Riches, and love them when they are old; and though our Wits scorn to think, or say with the vulgar, yet even these are swayed as much, and as stron­ly by vulgar Vices, as those who never exclaim'd against the un­thinking Crowd. All Creatures stand in awe of others, accord­ing to the esteem they have of them; and tho' we admire our own Perfections, and value our selves far above our proportion, [Page 60] yet stand we not in awe to com­mit wickedness when alone, which we durst not commit if others were present; and thus we are so un­reasonable, that we want a due reverence and esteem for our selves, where we ought to have it, and have it excessively where we ought to want it totally.

Self-love, the falsest tho' the subtilest of all Reasoners, endea­vours to perswade us, that in re­venge, we shall, by seeing our Enemies ruined, remain our selves the more excellent Creatures, our Rivals being thus depress'd: And this is that hid reason which ju­stifies to us that Passion which is truly most inhumane. But what an improper Argument is this, for we are not one whit the more excellent, that another is ruined by an Accident. Another Argument brought by Revenge, is, that thus we shall secure our selves against our Enemies, and [Page 61] so Revenge would pass with us under the disguise of Self-defence; but because this would seem cow­ardly, and be in effect, a tacite acknowledgment of Fear; we ra­ther say, that in Revenge, we will teach others not to attack us. But all these are false rea­sonings; for no Man secures his true Quiet by Revenge, for it raises an Enemy within, which is always present, and able to disquiet: And all Men conclude themselves obliged to destroy the Revengeful Man, by the same Ar­gument that he pursues his Re­venge; and thus a Man is tor­tured by it till it be satisfied, and frighted by it after he has pre­vail'd.

Most Men desire to be in Em­ployment, from a secret desire to be admir'd; whereas when they are in Employments, they do not those Just and Virtuous things, for which they would be truly [Page 62] admir'd: And albeit Self-love makes them believe, that the being fear'd is a mark of true Dominion; yet they consider not, that even Dominion is only at the bottom desireable, because it is a sign of Merit and innate Excellency; and does please, be­cause it makes us believe, by the Suffrage of others, that we are Noble and Excellent Persons, of which, even the least reasona­ble cannot seriously be perswad­ed, except they believe they have done virtuous things. And thus it were more reasonable to do what is really virtuous, than to cheat our selves, with thinking that others admire us. And it is very unreasonable not to do things rather for Virtue it self, than for the Applause which fol­lows it, since that Applause de­rives its desireableness from Vir­tue, and so Virtue it self should be much more desired: And which [Page 63] shews yet more the weakness of our Reason, tho' in this we con­tradict the undeniable Sentiments of Mankind, yet we are cheat­ed into it by a mistake, as if it were easier to attain to the Applause of Virtue, than to Vir­tue it self; whereas, quite con­trary, it must be more difficult to attain Applause, since it de­pends upon many thousands of Rivals and capricious Fools; where­as Virtue springs from a Man's own Breast, and we may have it, and keep it, in spight of all Mankind.

Every Man also, may in his private Station and Employment, find thousands of Instances to confirm this Truth. And thus a Courtier should consider, that when he sees his Prince bow and pray to a Superiour, before whom, he acknowledges himself to be a Worm and a Va­pour, that certainly it is fit to [Page 64] do nothing to displease that Su­periour Power, for gaining the favour of that Prince who a­dores him; and who would not think him mad, who would scorn to depend on a Monarch, but would take pains to flatter his Footman? When a Lawyer ob­serves that Men take such pains to secure in Law an Interest that cannot be secur'd against Acci­dents, he should in reason con­clude, that it is brutish not to take more pains to secure that which shall never fail: And when he observes how zealously the Eldest Men defend a Life that Accidents, nay, and Nature pro­bably will end with the Process, should he not consider, what pains should be taken to secure a Life that continues for ever, free too from that Care, and those Sicknesses, that even before Death make this Life miserable.

If a Souldier who were besieg'd [Page 65] by his Enemies, should abandon his Watch, and spend his time in Gaming and Drinking, or should lose the glorious opportunity of defeating them, for a Feast; or, as Mark Anthony, for a Mistress: Especially, if they be such Ene­mies, whom we know, would not only kill, but torment us to Death, were he not to be account­ed a Fool? But that is our case; for being surrounded with Temp­tations and Devils, we spend our time in Toyes and Trifles, and whilst we hear that others have receiv'd an Immortal Crown, for having overcome their Spiritual Enemies, we, who value Fame and Glory so much, spend our time in pleasing two or three silly Courtiers, whom we despise whilst we attend them, and laugh at the Actions which we seem to admire. A Merchant were ridi­culous, if he should spend his Stock and his time in buying up [Page 66] Wares that were unfashionable in that Country where he has his abode; and yet most Men em­ploy themselves wholly in gather­ing Riches, and getting that Know­ledge, which can neither be car­ried to Heaven with them, nor can comfort them when they are in Hell. And I have oft applaud­ed the remark of a Gentlewo­man, who hearing a whole So­ciety admire one of her acquain­tance, for a great Wit, told them, that his Father had left him a great Estate, which he had spent a­mongst Whores, that he had him­self married a Whore, and had chang'd the Orthodox Religion, in which he was bred up, for a worse, and was not devout in that neither; and desir'd them to consider if that Man deserv'd to be call'd a Wit?

Nor are we only unreasonable in pursuing our Pleasures and Vices; but the very measures we [Page 67] take in being Virtuous, shew how weak our Reason is, and how ill we use it. For our Friendship is for the most part but the prefer­ring those for whom we have a kindness, to those who deserve bet­ter both our kindness and those employments; and thus we rob the Commonwealth, to repay the debt our Gratitude owes. The Courage of many is but a hypo­critical disguising of their fear, or a dull ignorance of their danger. For when a man goes to Battel, he fears to dye; but to disguise this fear, he considers the shame of flying, and knowing certainly that his Reputation would be ruined, he fears more this certain loss, than the hazard of being kill'd: but if he cannot attain to that, he at least braves it out, and endeavours to cheat others, when he cannot satisfie himself.

Liberality and Charity are oft­times but the disguised effects of [Page 68] Vanity, wherein men tacitely de­sign rather their own perpetuity, than the advantage of those on whom they bestow what is gi­ven, in which they act very un­reasonably: for if they lent it to God, he would restore it with a very enriching interest: But in bestowing it on Fame, they be­stow it on a Cheat, which has oft deceived both them and others. And it still seems strange, that we will bestow it on that Multitude (for Fame and the Multitude are the same thing) to preserve any one of whom from starving, we would not bestow one farthing. And yet the World esteem those who do such things more than they do reasonable and judicious persons.

It is one of the chief and fun­damental Dictates of Reason, that we should do to others as we would wish them to do to us. But tho' we exclaim against our Equals, [Page 69] poor Mortals, if they refuse us this measure, yet we allow it not to our great King and Soveraign. If we heard that any who pre­tended to be our friend, did sit tamely and hear us rail'd at, and contemn'd, we would conclude them base and treacherous; and a King would for this treat His Sub­jects as Rebels; but yet we sit not only to hear impious Crea­tures rail at Religion, and oft­times at Providence it self, with so little resentment, that we com­ply and even admire the Miscre­ant. I remember that I suggest­ed once to a Person of Quality, who was busie about his Ac­compts, to consider if our Stew­ard should spend our Rents up­on his own Affairs, or upon maintaining his own Family or Luxury, and much more if he should riot it away with our Ene­mies, would we not hate him as a Rogue, and at least recal the [Page 70] Trust we gave him. But the Great Master of the Family of the Faith­ful having appointed us only to be Stewards, not to appropriate, but to bestow the Estates he gave us for the use of his poor Children and Servants, preferring us kindly to as much as may satisfie our Conve­niency, for so the Scripture, and even Reason it self, teaches us: (for why should the Wise God have bestowed so much upon some, whilst others want, if he had not design'd to level all by this necessity of distribution) yet we see his Children starve, whilst we employ the portions due to them upon the Wicked who are his Enemies. And thus we use the Almighty God at the rate we would not suffer from the meanest of our Servants. And so unrea­sonable are even such as are con­vinc'd of the reasonableness of Charity, that by doing their cha­ritable actions in publick, they [Page 71] lose the reward, by not preserving the true design of it; for as our Saviour argues, Mat. 6. 4. It is very just, that since they bestow their Chari­ty to gain the applause of men, they should be rewarded with the applause for which they bestowed it; And how can they expect a reward from God, to please whom it was not given; and he is not obliged to repay what was not lent him: And they cannot expect double pay­ment, for being paid by men, the Obligation is fully satisfied.

I shall conclude these Observa­tions with what ordinarily we conclude our unreasonable lives, and that is Death-bed Repentance, which of all things is the most unreasonable. For if we believe the Rewards and Torments which attend our future state, and make the delay so dangerous, why de­lay we? And if we believe neither of these, why repent we? The one cannot but make our present [Page 72] pleasures very bitter, by the fear that must thereupon haunt us; and the other cannot but needlesly cut off the pleasures which we ex­clude as inconsistent with true Re­pentance. But which of us being condemn'd to horrible Torments, would delay to seek a remission till the last hour? or being invited to leave our Cottage to receive a plentiful Estate, would delay to undertake his Journey? and yet we easily delay our Repentance, which can only preserve us, con­demn'd Sinners, from eternal Tor­ments; and which would certain­ly bring us, poor Wretches, to that Inheritance of immortal Glory. And tho' we condemn our selves for leaving the dispatch of our little Concerns till the last hour, yet we delay that great and ne­cessary Work, on which a long Eternity hangs, for every trifle. And that which aggravates much this Neglect, is, that the Reasons [Page 73] which encourage us to it are as weak, as the thing it self is ab­surd and dangerous. For the hope we may live, has for its founda­tion a frail Body, that every ac­cident can destroy; and it is a wonder, that when we hear of so many unexpected deaths, we should not tremble to think, what if I had dyed? And tho' the Mer­cy of God be as infinite as his Justice, yet it is insupportable in­solence in us to think, that we can be sav'd when we please: this is not only to undervalue him as the last thing to be chosen, which implies that our infinitely glorious Maker is of all things least wor­thy of our choice, but in this we exalt our selves above him, as if we might command him to be­stow upon us Heaven and Hap­piness when-ever we thought fit to call for it. And which of us would bestow the meanest favour upon him, who would resolve to [Page 74] oppose, or but neglect us as long as he pleas'd. The delaying makes us the unfitter, not only to crave, but even to receive, Mercy; and since all our life, albeit as piously spent as humane frailty can allow, is short enough for so great a Work; what can we expect from a few sickly hours distracted by new pains, and amazed at so ma­ny old sins? And the Scripture having commanded us to repent, and bring forth good Works; it has every where made good Works and a subsequent Amendment of our Lives, the mark as well as fruit of sincere Repentance: and therefore since a Death-bed Re­pentance must want this proof, it cannot but be by so much the more uncomfortable to us and our friends. Nor is there any gene­rous Soul, who having receiv'd so great and undeserved a Pardon, would not desire to be able to live, that he might magnifie that [Page 75] Infinite God to whom he ow'd it. I know that the Thief on the Cross has been a stumbling-block to many others; but we reason very weakly from this instance of God's Mercy: for he by believing the Divinity of our Saviour a­midst all that could have been said against it, when even the Jews were desiring him to come down from the Cross, and they would believe in him, and the other Thief was reviling him; did evi­dence as much Faith in that con­tracted Span when dying, as the best of us can do in a prolong'd Life. And it being fit for the Saviour of the World to shew his Power and Mercy when he was leading Captivity captive, that happy Thief can be no Precedent for us who remain unconverted after so many Miracles, that no reasonable man can now doubt of, especially if he never heard, as its probable, of that Gospel which [Page 76] we have so oft undervalued, and if he has not neglected former offers of Mercy which we have so oft con­temn'd. And shall we presume on God's Goodness, because one man was sav'd, and but one, to preserve Mankind from despair; not re­membring, that as the Thief ob­tain'd a Pardon when he sought it, so Esau found no place for Re­pentance, tho' he sought it earnest­ly, Heb. 12. 17. And tho' those who came in at the last hour, got as much as those who had wrought at the first; yet it is remarkable, that it is said, they came not sooner, because no man had desired them. But let me conjure any noble Soul to consider, that if God be wor­thy of the Adoration of Angels through all Eternity; and that we confess, that to walk, like Enoch, with him, will be so amiable and glorious, why should we delay it for Pleasures that are unworthy of a reasonable Soul, and which last [Page 77] but for a moment? For at least we lose so much unexpressible Joy and Pleasure; and in delaying our Repentance we continue to be sick when we may be whole, to be blind when we may see, to be poor when we may be rich, to lye in Prison when we may live at Liberty, and to be Slaves to our Enemies when we may be Heirs to a Kingdom. All which induce me to believe, that they who de­lay Repentance, design not to re­pent, but flatter themselves with a false conceit of it; for to repent is to be grieved, and no man who is grieved can put it off at his pleasure, no more than a man can be griev'd or not as he pleases. As also if a man resolv'd sincerely to repent, 'tis necessary that he were convinc'd of the greatness of his danger, and were actually asham'd as well as afraid thereof; and if he were truly touch'd with these Convictions, he would not con­tinue [Page 78] in the Courses which occa­sion'd them. And to finish all, is it not the height of unreasonable­ness for a man to continue to do these things, of which he knows he must be asham'd, and for which he resolves to be exceedingly trou­bled and afflicted? And if we were coming into a Room where a man were wounding himself, would we not conclude him yet madder if he told us, that he would give himself more and more, because such a man got so many Wounds, and yet was cured.

Let me therefore conclude this Discourse with the noble and just Reasoning us'd by St. Peter, 2 Epist. 3. 10, 11. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the Heavens will pass a­way with a great noise, and the Ele­ments shall melt with a fervent heat, the Earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up: See­ing then that all these things shall be [Page 79] dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy Conversa­tion and Godliness?

And what a frighted Creature will the greatest Hero be, when he finds himself in the midst of a burning World, having greater terrors within his Breast than these, rais'd by an Omnipotent God, and which will force him to cry to the Hills and Mountains to fall upon him, and cover him from the face of this angry Judge?

But these great and sad Truths need (alas) to be preach'd by an Angel, to Hearers standing upon the brink of their Grave, and ha­ving Heaven and Hell open'd be­fore them.

Whence proceeds it that Man is so unreasonable, and how to improve our Reason.

IT is indeed very strange, that Man, who improves daily so much in all Arts and Sciences, that are nei­ther so necessary, so easie, nor so advantageous to us, should still decrease in this excellent Study, this Noble and Useful Knowledge: Let us then enquire a little into the occasions of these Errours in his reasonings, and we shall find them so silly, that [Page 82] they also discover to us new Weaknesses in his Reason.

I know that we generally charge this on Man's Atheism, ima­gining he would reason justly, if he believ'd the Principles I have laid down; but this is a mistake, for Atheists reason most weakly, as well as others, and most in­consequentially to their own Prin­ciples: for even Atheists disquiet themselves for Fame and Money, and by Whoring and Drinking destroy their Bodies, which is all they dote upon, and should pre­serve, and which shews their un­reasonableness, according to their own Principles; and that Infide­lity is not the cause of false rea­soning, appears clearly, because such as are not Atheists, reason falsly; and we may observe, that such as believe that by the ill Diets they use, their terrible pains will be re­new'd, do yet adventure on them; oh, that they only of all Man­kind [Page 83] were the unreasonable Men! But how unreasonable are they, who believing there is a Crown of Glory reserv'd for those that will run that Heavenly race, chuse rather to sit Tipling and Gam­ing; that believe the Son of God stands stretching out his arms, ready to preserve them, and yet will rather sink down into that fearful Pit, from which there is no redemption; who will rather starve than seek that Hea­venly Manna, and languish of their Wounds, than seek the Balm of Gilead, from the hand of a loving Father; whom no Judg­ments on others can awaken, nor Mercies to themselves can ob­lige; Sick amidst so many Cures; Poor, amidst such Plenty; Blind, notwithstanding so much Light; and Insensible, in spight of so ma­ny Convictions.

But how can Men reason well, since they neither understand the [Page 84] true use of Reason, nor what Man is? And these are the two first and great occasions of our Errours.

As to Reason, let us examin our selves narrowly, and we shall find that Men think they need not Reason in the great and con­siderable designs of Life, as if these were matters to be taken upon trust; And as if Reason were to be us'd only in matters of State, or in Debate or Trade. And I desire to know, who sits down to reason with himself, why he lives so or so, or to know, if what he does, is according to the Rules given him, for regulat­ing his Actions. I have my self spent Twenty years in reason­ing eagerly to secure other Mens Estates; but I have spent very little time to consider, by a no­bler reasoning, why do I spend so much time in reasoning for o­ther Men, and yet so little for my self? tho' in the mean time, [Page 85] I do but too much prefer my self to all others? You will find some Divines very busie in argu­ing, whether God from all Eter­nity could have made Creatures, and yet these Men will never con­sider what shall become of them in Eternity. The cure then of this, is to consider Reason, not as a Tool, useful for Gain or Fame only, but as a Square, put in our hands, by our kind God, to instruct us how to make our Actions straight and even; and as a Workman does first mind to have all regulated by his Square, and after his work is finished, applyes the Square to what he has made; so ought we, when any thing is design'd by us, re­solve to do all in it by the rules of Reason, and when the Action is ended, examin if it be so: And to invite us to this, God has not oblig'd us to seek for this any foreign or remote [Page 86] Remedy; no, nor to owe our Remedy to any other; but has plac'd his Candle in our Breasts, and honour'd us with the be­ing our own Governours and Directors. Let us then think, and think of matters of Im­portance, and of matters that import us; let us think as much of Heaven, which cannot be ta­ken from us, when once we are possessed of it, as we do of tem­poral Estates, in the possession of which we cannot be secured. Let us think as much upon our selves, whom we value too much, as upon others, whom we value too little.

We use oft-times our Reason to argue falsly for Interest, or by Pre-ingagement, and this de­bauches our Reason, after which it continues easily in this Errour: For this takes off that Reverence and Esteem we ought to have for just reasoning. Thus Lawyers [Page 87] favouring still, and being oblig'd to maintain the cause of those who have retain'd them, force their Reason to find Arguments for their own side; Divines think­ing themselves oblig'd to defend the Positions of that Church wherein they were born, reason still in its defence: States-Men, to fortifie their Partie, endeavour to perswade all Men to embrace it; and Orators, not excepting the Philosophers amongst them, to beautifie their discourses, urge things that are meer Flourishes, having much Lustre, but no Strength; great instances where­of are to be seen in Seneca, and generally in all the Heathens, who, as I shall shew expresly elsewhere, were forc'd, by not knowing the true Principles whereupon Reason was to be built, to maintain by false reasonings the true Principles that they design'd to recommend. We do likewise form our Mora­lity [Page 88] by our Interest, and guide not our Interest by our Morals; and after we have form'd any Design, we find out Reasons to perswade us that it is just: And thus we oft-times mistake Interest, Imagination, and Prejudices, for solid Reason; the true cure where­of lies in being painful and curi­ous in our first Reasonings; and as careful not to commit Errours by false and careless Arguings, in matters of eternal Happiness, as Mathematicians are in their Demonstrations about Figures and Conclusions, which cannot secure them against one Misfortune, nor add one day to their Lives.

Bigotry, and false conceptions of Religion, do also darken much our Reason; for sometimes, by implicit Faith and Infallibility, (those great Tyrants over Rea­son) we accustome our selves to Laziness, wherein we lose the habit of Reasoning; and some­times [Page 89] by imposing upon us things inconsistent with it, and by teach­ing us that it is a dangerous Guide, we lessen our own esteem for it, and create insensibly in our selves a Jealousie that it is an Imposture; and we baffle it so on these occasions, that at other times it dares not try its own strength. I confess, that it ought in a just submission yield to his commands who made it, nor should we hear the Servant when the Master speaks; but except when the will of God does ex­presly ordain ones Reason to sub­mit, we ought not to deny our selves the true exercise of it, to please Men, who understand not its true strength, or do upon de­signs impose on us the abandon­ing of it. And this has infected us so far, that by it all other Sciences did fall very low. And if some bold Defender, such as Cartes and others, had not inter­pos'd, [Page 90] we had been led by implicit Faith, in all the Objects of Know­ledge as well as in all the Objects of Faith; and every School-man would have exacted as much abso­lute submission to his own Dictates, as we should pay to the uner­ring Commands of our infallible Creator. And oft-times Self-love passing for Religion, blinds us whilst it promises Illumination: As a clear instance whereof I shall desire any wise Man to consider, that if this were true Zeal which led Men to hazard all they have for the ridiculous difference about indifferent Cere­monies or Tenets, why do they not hazard all they possess for the defence of the Christian Religion against the Turks; since in sound Reason, and by a Mathematical certainty, the whole is to be preferred to a part; and to prove that this is the effect of Self-love, and not of true Devo­tion, [Page 91] it is very observable, that the less the differences be in such cases, we are ordinarily the more passionate in them, being inclin'd rather to have our Sentiments su­stain'd, than the Commands of God obey'd; most men being to themselves their own only God, and being asham'd that they should err even in the meanest circumstance.

Men may think me insolent when I tell them that they under­stand not themselves, but they should bear this from me; who would willingly wish that they could justly tax me of a Lye in it. But for my security I must put them in mind, that Monsieur Paschal told them before me, that he had laid aside the study of the Mathematicks, because few un­derstood to converse with him in it, and betook himself to consider Man; as thinking that a Subject so near, and of such concern to [Page 92] every one, that all could not but understand it; and yet he found this less understood than the other. But that I may contribute my mean Endeavors for clearing them in this, I must desire them to con­sider, that Man being created to love and admire God, it must follow by a necessary consequence, that God was to be the Center of all his Knowledge; and right Reason was a drawing of all his Conclusions as so many Lines, to rest upon God as that Center. But Man designing to exalt himself, does by a woful mistake make himself the Center, and Self-love, as another Reason, draws all into this design. And thus, whereas we should study to understand the excellent Works of the Creation, that in them we may understand the Infiniteness of that wonderful Creator; we study them only thereby to adorn our own Spirits, and thus to raise an Esteem in [Page 93] others for us: and crook in all the Conclusions we make to our selves and our Conveniency, as the Center of all our Designs. And thus we have invented new Scien­ces, Arts, and Recreations, such as Criticisms, Rraillery, Comedies, Tragedies, &c. meerly that our Works may be admir'd as much as his. And therefore it is im­possible we can ever reason justly, since all the Lines of our Reason­ing tend to a wrong Center; but if we return to our Duty in resol­ving to love and admire him, and not our selves, every Conclusion being drawn from true Principles and Positions, would recover its original streightness. And thus if we ador'd God more than Kings and Princes, we would not dis­please God to please them, that we might be enrich'd or advanc'd by them. If we studied only to know him in his Creatures, and not to raise our own Fame by [Page 94] them, we would not toil and vex our selves to acquire Fame; nor forget serving and adoring him, that we might get time to know those Sciences, and be esteem'd for, and delighted in that Learn­ing. Self-love, amongst its other Cheats, hinders us to study Chri­stian Morality, because that would let us see how vile and frail we are; and therefore, as a diver­sion, it carries us impetuously to study other Sciences, wherein we may admire our own Wit and Sagacity: but that which seems to me the true Notion of Learn­ing is, that it should be a design to know and admire God in his Works; for which Natural Phi­losophy and Mathematicks are to be studied; in his Providence, which we may know by History; in his Justice to be known by Law; and in his governing the Soul of Man, which is the Object of Moral Philosophy: but above [Page 95] all, in himself and the Mysteries of our Salvation, taught by Di­vinity when well directed.

A Proof of which, as well as a new Cause of our Errours and Reasoning is, That the first Rule by which our Reasons are squared and directed, are the Writings of those Illustrious Heathens, who in our Youth are recommended to us as the only Guides and Patterns: The best of which, such as Plato, Epictetus, Seneca, and others, be­ing absolutely ignorant of Man's great Disease, which is Original Sin, could not but mistake the Remedies of his Actual Transgres­sions; and knowing nothing more excellent than their own Reason, they concluded it was sufficient. And having from their Poets and Traditions learned mean, low thoughts of their Gods, who were in those days made the chief A­ctors of the sins they should have punished, and describ'd as more [Page 96] employ'd in satisfying their own Passions, than in governing of the World. Those misled Philosophers did not only equal themselves to, but raised themselves above the Gods, whom they taught others and themselves to adore. And to that height did this mistake in their Reasoning fly, that Seneca concludes his Wise man much pre­ferable to the Gods, because the good they did, arose from the necessity of their own Nature; whereas man being left to a free­dom in his Actions, made them good by his own wise choice. Epictetus founds his Philosophy upon that only Principle, That the things within us are in our own pow­er, but the things without us are not. Whereas St. Paul from Heaven assures us, That of our selves, as of our selves, we can do no good. And our own Experience doth most convincingly agree with St. Paul, against Epictetus. And where­as [Page 97] a Principle in any Science should be an uncontroverted Truth, we find daily that this Principle is an absolute Lye. For that man who thinks that he can with an unerring hand govern his Passi­ons, has never undertaken the subduing of them. And video meliora, proboque, deteriora sequor, agrees much better with our own Experience, as well as with St. Paul, who, tho' among the great­est of Saints, complains justly, Rom. 7. 15. That which I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I: and therefore is for­ced to cry out, Who shall deli­ver me from this body of Death? Cicero's Discourse concerning the Nature of Gods, and Plato's Dia­logues of the Immortality of the Soul, may convince us how weak­ly those great Patterns of Philo­sophy do reason, even upon those Subjects where Reason was not altogether mistaken. And from [Page 98] those, and all the Writings of the Ancient Pagans, I do more justly conclude, That those great Ideas which our Masters have given us of them, and the Eloquence which shines every where in their Wri­tings, have misled us from the ways that lead to the New Ieru­salem; and from admiring the Beauty of Holiness which shines in those Scriptures, which have God Almighty and the Holy One of Israel for their Author and Subject, and in which we are taught to expect more help from Heaven, than from our selves, a­gainst our innate and original Cor­ruption, which is more to be o­vercome by praying than think­ing, and can never be overcome without that Humility and Self-denial, which was absolutely unknown to the Heathens, as I hope to prove in another Discourse, where these thoughts shall have their full scope.

[Page 99] I am far from designing in this to root out Self-love, but rather to direct and improve it. For certainly God has grafted Self-love in every Man's Heart, to the end, Man might thereby be the more oblig'd to love him, to whom he owes all those Excel­lencies which he loves in him­self, and that he may be there­by oblig'd to preserve himself as a part of the Universe, and which is in general preserv'd by every Man's loving himself; and so far has God allow'd this Self-love, that he punishes Man when he destroyes himself. But that Self-love which I here inveigh against, is a false and imposture passion, whereby Man makes himself the Spring, from which all his De­signs follow, the Mark at which they aim, and the Rule by which they are to be squared, than which nothing can be more unreasona­ble. For how can we justifie [Page 100] our selves, in requiring absolute deference from all that is ours, if we yield it not to that Infinite Being to whom we owe all; and as he brought us out of nothing, so we should still remember that we are nothing before him. If every Man made himself the Rule, and drew all to himself, what a distracted thing would this World be, and how impos­sible would it be for any Man to live comfortably in it? And as a private Man would be e­steem'd mad, who in a Court, would think that all things should be design'd there for his Glory and Pleasure: So much more is Man a distracted Creature, when he makes himself the chief aim of all his Actions. Whereas, if a Courtier take great care to please the Monarch, and to design his Glory and Advantage, he will thereby raise himself in a securer, as well as a juster way. And [Page 101] therefore because Self-love is so strong an Oratour, and is still at the bottom of all perswasion, we should examine cautiously, what is urged upon us under the disguise of Self-love, and whether we do really love our selves when we yield to those things to which we are tempted. I shall conclude this Period with a sad Assertion, That in spight of all that Men profess, yet too many really, at the bottom, mistake themselves so far, as to think that they have no original Frailties, and therefore that they are able to command their Passions, and that they need no Divine Assistance, that they are nothing else, save that body which we see, that they are not to die so soon, and that the things they are doing now are the on­ly things to be car'd for, and will remain with them for ever. And if most Men have this Idea of themselves, I desire to know [Page 102] how they can draw just conclu­sions from such mistaken Prin­ciples.

Another cause of our Reason­ing so weakly, is, that the things of another World are too remote to seem great to us, and too spi­ritual to be discerned by carnal Eyes. The least thing, when plac'd immediately before our Eyes, will intercept, and exclude all further prospect; and even the least conspicuous Objects, and Sensual things do, by a constant tide of emanations, flow in con­tinually upon us, so as to fill our thoughts, and leave little room for any thing else. But as a Remedy to this, let us con­sider, that since even Corporeal, and Sensual Pleasures charm us only when we think much upon them, it follows, that thinking is the Source, and Origin of Esteem: tho' we see not the Riches of a golden Mine, yet our belief will [Page 103] make us toil for it, and the hope of succeeding to an Estate will oblige us to follow eagerly what that hope suggests. And since Faith is the evidence of things not seen, it does represent things to come, with a certainty, that makes them present; and albeit it may be objected, that we have seen some such things as these Mines, and Worldly Successions, and therefore it is that we be­lieve and love them more; yet that is of no moment: For the miracles that Men have heard of, and the wonderful works of Pro­vidence which we daily see, e­specially when born in upon us, by the conviction of our own Consciences, seem as strong mo­tives as any that sense can af­ford Conscience, that luminous Sense of the Soul, being stronger, and more perswasive to any that will hear it, than any of our dull and outward Senses, which have [Page 104] only assistance from stupid Flesh and Blood: Conversation also a­bout things Spiritual and Divine, will be in place of Sensual Ema­nations to us, and will represent a future Life, and the World to come to a hearkning Soul, as if it were present; nor will the Al­mighty fail to assist that Elo­quence which has him for its only and ultimate scope.

The Soul cetrtainly being a Spi­ritual substance, can more easily unite it self to immaterial Ob­jects, such as a future state of Happiness, than to the terrestrial Objects, with which we fill it; and the only fault is in us, who do not apply our selves to the thinking on these. Do we not find that such as aspire to Fame are more taken with it than any Man is with Meat or Drink, yea, and Life it self, for the conquest whereof all these are contemn'd: And yet Fame is a meer imma­terial [Page 105] Object, that has nothing affecting the Senses otherwise than by thinking nothing Present, no­thing Corporeal; and generally, the Spirit of Man is more pleas'd with Expectation than with a­ny present Possession whatsoever; so far, that if we expect any lit­tle accident, it will busie more our thoughts, and fasten them more to it than a thousand things of greater value already possess'd. This then can be no such hard task as our laziness perswades it to be.

Tho' we be convinc'd of the truths on which I have founded my Observations, yet we advert not to them, nor heed them. Thus tho' an Object were most conspicuous, yet if we dote so upon any other, as▪ never to turn our eyes that way, we shall not be taken with either its Va­lue or Beauty. We are bred up in a great esteem for the things [Page 106] of this World, and so are rather pre-engag'd than blind, and buy not that Pearl of price, because we have laid out our Stock on other trifles, which is a great de­fect in our Reason, and for which we would contemn other Mer­chants: And this is to be cur'd by having a true value for things, and by rectifying all our Ideas; and therefore, he who resolves to reason justly, should begin first to consider, when any thing oc­curs, of what use it may be, and of what value it is. As for instance, Is this Land, for which I am sinfully providing Money, worth Heaven? or this Man, whom I am to please, abler to make me happy than God Almighty, to whom in this I prefer him? And so, like a skil­ful Chymist, resolve every thing into its true Principles, and then try its value; and like a Mer­chant, who has been often cheated, [Page 107] resolve at last to consider what such things are worth, whether they will be fashionable where we are going, and whether they will return us the Stock we lay out upon them?

For improving this thought, we should consider, that tho' we discover truths, yet we do not take time to ponder them suffici­ently: And thus, tho' we be convinc'd, yet we improve not sufficiently our convictions. Self-love, and the love of Ease has us'd us to a partial and superfi­cial way of enquiry; and from this also proceed these wanderings which weaken those pious Medi­tations, and disturb that earnest­ness in Prayer, by which we can only procure a just illumination in our reasoning; desultoriness of thought grows daily when it is not lessen'd, and the next days wanderings are the punishment of those which we suffered to [Page 108] prevail yesterday. But should we not be asham'd, that we can­not think our Salvation worthy of some serious hours, since it is that which God Almighty has constantly design'd, and follow'd from all Eternity, tho' we are far more concerned in it. And that we can spend many entire hours upon a question of Law or Mathematicks, and yet can­not fix our thoughts upon that Infinite Being, in whom there are far more infinite Perfections; an Object that can never be ex­hausted, where every thought would open a new Scene of thoughts, yet more delightful; by which, Angels have been for many thousands of years detain'd in constant raptures, contemplat­ing those admirable Mysteries, which the Scripture tells us, the Angels desire to pry into, finding by a constant enquiry, new matter of holy Learning, [Page 109] and blessed Curiosity; and are said by God himself to have learn'd this from those happy Christians to whom those myste­ries were first reveal'd, Eph. 3. 8. Learn then, O Christian, to ma­nage thy Spirit, try first by what means thou usest to fix it on other occasions, and im­proving these from the obvious advantages that pious fixation will yield above all others; beg humbly, by Prayer, a new sup­ply to thy native Forces, acknow­ledge to God that thou hast taught thy own thoughts this seditious­ness and tumultuariness of which thou complain'st, and hope, that as by frequent yieldings thou fed­dest that Vice into a habit, so that by frequent and resolute op­positions thou may'st destroy that obstinate and dangerous habit, and introduce a contrary one, which will make thy fix'dness easie and pleasant. Frequent rea­sonings [Page 110] do also not only make us argue more strongly and ea­sily, but do warm us into a con­viction first, and then into a love for that for which we contend: And thus Lawyers are oft-times convinc'd, even in the ill Causes they plead; and Hereticks fix themselves in their Errors, by frequent contests for them. Why then should we not argue more frequently both against our selves, and with others, upon these ex­cellent Truths, by which also we should be engag'd in honour to walk sutably to these truths, of which we profess to others that we are convinc'd? And who could be so absurd, as after he has been debating against another for his Drinking, yet would in­vite him to a Debauch? But, alas, every Man loves to debate in his own Calling, except the Christian: And it is become as much a shame to talk of Devotion as it ought [Page 111] to be our Glory and Delight; and men seem afraid to debate, lest by being too much convinc'd of what they ought to do, they should be too much terrified for what they have done; and so these Convi­ctions beget an uneasiness to them, when to gratifie their humour; they are tempted to renew their sins.

Hypocrisie affords us a clear proof of this partiality, as well as of Man's contradicting himself; for to confess there is a God who is Omniscient, who knows the se­crets of hearts, and before whom there is nothing hid in Heaven or Earth, and yet to think that we can conceal our thoughts from his all-seeing Eye, implies a flat Contradiction; as it also does to care for nothing but what may cause an esteem in our selves, for our selves. We really value o­ther mens approbation, because it confirms us in our own: nor [Page 112] would the vainest man alive va­lue all the flatteries imaginable, if he thought he could not deserve them. Yet in Hypocrisie we must know, that we deserve not the applause to which we pretend, and it is worthy of our thoughts to enquire impartially, how men can reconcile these in themselves; for the most debauched Reason will not adventure upon any Contra­diction without some seeming re­conciliation. And tho' at the first it may seem that want of conside­ration is the cause of this, yet this cannot be; for if we know not that we are masquing, it is no Hypocrisie; and on the con­trary, Hypocrisie requires great reflection, because it needs much precaution. The Reason then of the first must be, That as to God we trust our Repentance, and to his Mercy; as if forsooth, we did him little wrong, by making his Creature appear more excellent [Page 113] than it is, and as if it might pre­judge his Service to let others see, that we are many times more wick­ed than they, or that we did God good Service in encouraging o­thers to be Pious by our good Ex­ample, and that we by Hypocri­sie do only raise an esteem, or come to an employment by which we may be truly serviceable to God in our other actions. But I really think, that the Heart of Man is so narrow, that it can hold only one Scheme of thoughts at once, and therefore this little Soul being fill'd with a desire of ap­plause, and with the shame of be­ing silly and undeserving, it re­flects indeed, but all its reflections look that way. The man is full of this, and intent upon it, and so he sees not the Contradiction, how palpable soever it be; but yet it is so notorious and discer­nable, that I may justly conclude his Reason weak, if not blind, [Page 114] who does not discern it. The Cure then of this subtile Cheat must be by pursuing this Impo­sture into its secret recess, by see­ing this Player before he put on his fine Cloaths and Disguises, by turning all our thoughts to God, and from our selves, adverting se­riously and impartially to every little circumstance in the design that is to be considered.

I have oft-times admired the prevalency of Custom above Rea­son; and tho' Brutes, who want Reason, or Children, in whom it is yet scarce ripened, be led by it; yet what a strange thing is it, that in men who have Reason in ma­turity, Custom becomes not only a second Nature, but overcomes Nature, and is a second Nature, because it almost extirpates Rea­son, which was our first Nature. For tho' the older we grow, our Reason should grow the stronger, yet it falls still weaker, and melts [Page 115] so before Custom, that even the ver­tuous and dutiful Actions we do, seem rather the effects of Custom than of Reason. For if they proceed­ed from Reason, the same Reason which prompted us to do them, would oblige us to act vertuously on all other occasions. And we see that we alter our Vertues as the Fa­shions and Customs of our Coun­try change. But to conclude this expostulation, I cannot but won­der that a man should be call'd reasonable, after he has trusted the making Laws and Moulds for living happily and dutifully to the Multitude or Crowd, the worst of all Judges; and which we our selves contemn as an igno­rant, giddy, and capricious Rab­ble.

Of which influence of Custom over Reason, many different Cau­ses occur to me; for sometimes I think that Customs establish and fix themselves in us whilst we are [Page 116] yet young, that Reason can nei­ther defend it self nor us, espe­cially as to unusual Pleasures, which are the proper and natural objects of our first years: and like Weeds that have over-grown the ground, tho' never so fertile, they hinder the better Plants from growing up. To prevent which, it is necessary that we teach young ones to reason very early, and ac­custom them to a Christian Lo­gick, that is better than what they can learn in the Schools. Thus we may make Custom it self useful rather than hurtful to Reason, and teach it to serve, whereas now it governs. And I know one who cur'd his habitual Swearing by arguing with him­self, That since even the King's Enemies were able to restrain themselves from speaking Treason, by reflecting on its dangerous conse­quences, it was strange, that he who was convinc'd that Swearing [Page 117] did draw on more dangerous con­sequences, could not abstain from a custom that was altogether hate­ful, without the least allay of pleasure or advantage, to which the others might pretend.

Sometimes I think, that Cu­stom having the force of the Mul­titude which supports it, they all concur to pull back a well resol­ved Man from his vertuous reso­lutions; and Custom prevails ra­ther by numbers than by strength: And to prevent this, it is necessa­ry for a man who resolves to Reason justly, to withdraw for some time from the Crowd: Prov. 18. 1. A man, says Solomon, ha­ving separated himself, meddleth with all Wisdom; and Seneca tells us, That sanabimur modo à caetu separemur. Jesus Christ also who has triumphed over the World, is by strong Intercessions, to be cal­led in against this potent Enemy, who has shewn us, that he can [Page 118] throw out and dispossess that De­vil whose name is Legion: but the Multitude is never so corrupt, but that still some are to be found who can assist us in reasoning justly upon things; and we should also remember, that we value so little the Multitude, that we stand not in awe of what they say of us, when we are gaining Money, or satisfying our Pleasures: why then should we still spend all we have, and deny our selves all Plea­sure in following Custom, or court­ing Fame; since Custom and Fame are but the Dictates of the Multitude, an Homage which un­thinking men are forced to pay the Rabble, because they dare not seriously reflect on what they do? Or which designing men pay them in hopes to make them first Tools to their Ambition, and thereafter Slaves to their Tyranny.

But at other times the strength of Custom flows from our laziness, [Page 119] who love the way that is chalked out to us, and think it safe to follow, rather than lead the crowd; cheated to this by a cowardly Hu­mility, which proves our never having considered the Nobleness of our own Origine: which is to be cured by a generous resolution of despising difficulties; and of being Slaves, as all persons are, who love better to obey, than to examine the Dictates of others; and we are most unreasonable, when we have so strong desires to lead the Multitude to our ruine, as in seditious Tumults and Facti­ons; and yet will be content to be tamely led by them in what is much nobler and of greater con­sequence. How much more do we praise those great Legisla­tors, who govern'd the Multitude by their Vertues, than those Sy­cophants who adored them by submissions? There is Light in Vertue and Religion, and there [Page 120] is none dares resist it; it is able to astonish as well as convince: nor are men so wicked as not to desire to be assisted by some happy Genius, in what they are convinced is best. And every man almost stands on­ly in awe of another, expecting and wishing some Moses to under­take their delivery.

Generally Self-love seems to lead into these Sentiments, as thinking the Multitude will cry up their own inclinations, and is unwilling to check that Multitude from which it expects applause; and whose many Suffrages it needs to maintain it, against that inward sense it has of its own weakness and silliness: and this is to be cu­red by a noble reflection upon the dignity of our first Creation; and a desire to be again like to that God whose Image at first we were, and whose Sons we may yet be, if we can raise our hopes above those lower Spheres of sensual [Page 121] Joyes and Pleasures which poy­son us when they seem sweet, and cheat us when they appear great.

One of the dreadful effects of our following the Example of o­thers, is, that we think it is suf­ficient to be as reasonable as they: And thus we foolish and unrea­sonable Mortals, stint and bound one anothers goodness; now this we shall easily perceive to be most unreasonable, when we consider that no Man will satisfie himself in being as powerful or rich as his Neighbours; tho' these be much less desireable for a Soul and Spirit, which is the Image of an Infinite God, and is, after all its best endeavours here, very far from attaining to that degree of perfection which is even re­quisite to the life of a Christian. Devotion is a Race, and who is it that when he runs with many Rivals, will content himself to [Page 122] be in the throng, especially if the Prize be considerable: And therefore the Apostle exhorts us to forget those things which are behind, and to reach forth to those things that are before, pressing towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling in Christ Iesus, Phil. 3. 14. We are not only obliged to press on to obtain the Crown, but being pursued by our spiritual Enemies, we are con­cerned to use all the speed that is possible. And would not we conclude him mad, who if he were pursu'd for his life, would not desire to be past all danger, but content himself that he were not the last amongst those who endeavoured to escape?

It is strange, that notwith­standing that Custom does so lead us when we go not where we ought to go, but where others have gone before us, yet we oft­times err to a contrary extreme, [Page 123] and by a contrary reason, which is as false and more dangerous than the other, reasoning weakly and falsly from a design and de­sire to be singular, and conse­quently to be admir'd; thus even whilst in this we oppose the mul­titude, we design to please them too; for no Man admires what does not delight him; and pro­bably, these same contradictors would have chosen rather to have gone to Fame in the beaten path, by a direct pleasing and following of them; but finding a Crowd before them in it, which they could not pass by, they, by a long and a dangerous circuit, run before, and endeavour to keep the Pass on their Rivals, and hin­der them from coming up at Fame; and tho' they want the multitude at present, yet they hope to make them follow, else they would not differ from them; for few would care to continue [Page 124] alone till the last, tho' they love to be singular at first; yet this humour is a very great Enemy to true reasoning, for it intro­duces a habit of arguing falsly; and it is difficult in this dark estate to recover our road; if we once quit our light, one errour emboldens us to commit another, and it is the punishment of it, when committed; even those who care not to oppose Truth, love to be consequential in their opposition; for to do otherwise, were to be guilty of a double and more palpable vice in rea­soning.

Another great hinderance to right Reasoning, is Sensuality: For though I am far from be­ing of their opinion, who think the Soul nothing but the Animal Spirits; since we cannot conceive how matters can think so deli­cately and subtily, yet there is no doubt but the tempers of the [Page 125] Body has great influence on the Mind; and that Sobriety does purifie the Blood, and make these animal Spirits fitter Organs for the Soul; as on the other hand, Drunkenness drowns it, Gluttony stupifies it, and even after that time has dissipated those loads which oppress the Soul, there remains a stock of dregs which are easily inflam'd into Lust, Rage, and other brutal Passions, which in a more lasting manner inslave it. Therefore Pagans have re­commended Sobriety as a Diet for the Soul as well as the Bo­dy, and the Scripture Fasting, as a Religious Duty; and since there is none of us so Brutal, but if we were about to Preach, Plead, or assist in a publick Ju­dicature, we would be careful to avoid all these Excesses, lest thereby our Reason might be di­sturbed or clouded; we ought much more to shun them, with [Page 126] an Eye to the service of an Infi­nite God, and the preservation of our immortal Souls, minding in this the observation of the Prophet, Wine, and new wine take away the heart; and the ad­vice of our Saviour, See that you be not overcharged with sur­feiting and drunkenness.

There remain yet two vigo­rous Enemies to our Reason to be subdued, Bigotry and Raillery; which tho' they be contrary to one another; Bigotry treating things that are ridiculous as Sa­cred, and Raillery treating things Sacred as ridiculous, yet they both conspire against our Reason, and are the favourite extravagan­cies of the times, which obliges me to insist the more upon them.

I define Bigotry to be a laying too much stress upon any circum­stantial point of Religion or Wor­ship, and the making all other essen­tial Duties subservient thereto, [Page 127] and got its name from an occasion extravagant like it self. Rolland first Duke of Normandy, be­ing obliged to do ho­mage to Charles King of France, Du Lange verb. Bigot. for that Dutchy, refus'd to kiss his Foot, except the King would raise it himself to his mouth; and when it was told him that the Solemnity consisted in his tak­ing up the King's Foot and kis­sing it, he answer'd, Ne se bigot, that is to say in old Norman, Not so by God; Whereupon the King and Court derided him, and the Normans were from that oc­casion called Bigots, as they who adhered pertinaciously to Ridicu­lous Extravagancies. These latter Ages having, in this dotage of the World, produc'd multitudes, who mistaking Reformation for Hu­mour, and seeing some Devout Men admired for separating from Idolatrous and Superstitious Chur­ches, because they would not [Page 128] reform great and fundamental Errours, imagined that every thing was to be stuck at with the same zeal which these shew­ed in matters of greatest conse­quence, and by a farther effect of the same zeal, they proceeded to force others to concur with them in their extravagancies, which surprising distraction forced Men to bestow on them the name of Bigots; Superstition could not so well agree to them, that be­ing only an excessive Worship paid to a Deity, true or false, from an ill-grounded fear of mischief from it: nor could dog­matising serve, that being only a positiveness in any Opinion, joyned to the vanity of think­ing, that the Dogmatizer had right to dictate to others; nor Opiniarity, because that consists only in adhering too stifly to a­ny Opinion in spight of the best Reasons; nor Schism, because it [Page 129] is an unnecessary separation; nor Heresie, for tho' it is an obsti­nate Errour in some important point, yet it is always in mat­ters of Faith; whereas Bigotry rests only in matters of small im­portance; but tho Bigotry pro­perly relates to matters Ecclesi­astical in our late acceptation, yet it is by an easie stretch u­sed to express opiniatrities of all kinds; and if we consider its o­riginal, we must conclude, that it has been drawn to matters Ecclesiastick, and is appropria­ted now to them, because they are the most remarkable and fre­quent instances or effects of this mischievous Principle. For we may justly say, that Bigotry is the Hypochondriacism of Reason, the Bedlam of Religion, and the Ape of Infallibility.

Instances of this Bigotry, as they are very frequent, so they are very ancient. The Apostles [Page 130] themselves were forc'd very ear­ly to inveigh against Zeal that was not according to Knowledge; and the chief of their Scholars, who had been so happy as to hear them preach, did yet rend the Church by a dreadful Schism, which soon after grew to that heighth, that the Western Church excommunicated the Eastern, for differing from them in the ob­servation of Easter.

The best way to deter Men from spending their time and zeal in the service of Bigotry, either as its Chaplains, or as its Emissaries or Executioners, will be to consider the great defects, under which it labours, and the sad effects which it produceth.

The first pernicious effect of Bigotry, is, that it obtrudes on us things of no moment as mat­ters of the greatest importance. Now, as it would be a great de­fect in a Man's sense to take a [Page 131] Star for the Sun; or in an O­ratour to insist tenaciously on a point which deserved no conside­ration; so it must be a much greater errour in a Christian to prefer, or even to equal a meer circumstance to the solid points of Religion.

But these mistakes become more dangerous, by inducing their Votaries to believe, that because they are Orthodox in these mat­ters, they are the only People of God, and all who joyn not are Aliens to the Commonwealth of Israel: And from this springs first, that they, as Friends of God, may be familiar with him, and, as Friends do one to another, may speak to him without di­stance or premeditation; thence it is that we hear dreadful nonsense insolently vented in ex­temporary Prayers, such as would induce one to think that they do not believe him to be a God [Page 132] to whom they shew so little re­spect; for who can think that Infinite Wisdom can consider them as Friends, who dare address to him so unsuitably? Bigotry hav­ing thus corrupted our reasoning in matters of Religion, it easily de­praves it in the whole course of our Morals and Politicks.

The Bigots in the Second place proceed to fancy, that they who differ from them are Enemies to God, because they differ from God's People; and then the Old Testament is consulted for ex­pressions denouncing Vengeance against them: All Murders be­come Sacrifices by the Example of Phineas and Ehud; all Rapines are hallowed by the Israelites borrowing the Ear-rings of the Egyptians; and Rebellions have an hundred forc'd Texts of Scrip­ture brought to patronise them. But I oftentimes wonder where they find Precedents in the Old [Page 133] Testament for Murdering and Robbing Mens Reputations, or for lying so impudently for what they think the good Old Cause; which God foreseeing, has com­manded us not to lie, even for his sake.

The Third link of this Chain, is, That they fancying them­selves to be the only Israel, con­clude that God sees no sin in them, all is allowable to them; and (as one of themselves said) They will be as good to God ano­ther way.

The Fourth is, That such as differ from them are Bastards, and not the true Sons of God, and therefore they ought to have no share of this Earth, or its Government; hence flow these holy and useful Maxims, Domi­nion is founded in Grace, and the Saints have the only right to govern the Earth; which being once upon an occasion earnestly [Page 134] press'd in Cromwel's little Parlia­ment, it was answered by the President of his Council, That the Saints deserved all things, but that Publick Employment was such a drudgery that it would be unjust to condemn the Saints to it, and that the securest way to make the Common-wealth hap­py, was to leave them in a pi­ous retirement, interceding for the Nation at the Throne of Grace.

The Fifth Errour in their rea­soning, is, That seeing their o­pinions flow immediately from Heaven, no earthly Government can condemn any thing they do, in prosecution of these their O­pinions; thence it is that they raise Seditions and Rebellions with­out any scruple of Conscience, and believing themselves the Dar­lings and Friends of God, they think themselves above Kings, who are [Page 135] only their Servants and Execu­tioners.

It may seem strange, that such Principles as Bigotry sug­gests should be able to produce so strange effects, and many fan­ciful persons pretend it to be from God, because it prevails so. But this wonder will be much lessen'd if we consider first, That the greatest part of Mankind are weak or dishonest, and both these support Bigotry with all their might. Many virtuous Men also promote its Interest from a mi­staken good nature, and vain Men from a design of gaining Popularity. These who are dis­oblig'd by the Government joyn their Forces with it, to make to themselves a Party; and those who are naturally unquiet or factious, find in it a pleasant divertisement; whereas on the other side, few are so concern'd for Moderation and Truth as [Page 136] the Bigots are for their belov'd Conceits.

There is also a tinsel Devo­tion in it which dazles the Eyes of unthinking People; and this arises either from the new Zeal, that like Youth, is still vi­gorous, and has not as yet spent it self so as that it needs to lan­guish; or else, from the Bigot's being conscious that his Opinions need to be disguis'd under this hypocritical Mask.

Severity also encreases the num­ber and Zeal of Bigots. Humane Nature inclines us wisely to that pity which we may one day need; and few pardon the Severity of a Magistrate, because they know not where it may stop. I have known also some very serious Men, who have concluded, that since Magistrates have not often­times in other things a great concern for Devotion, their for­wardness against these Errours [Page 137] must arise either from the cru­elty of their temper, or from some hid design of carrying on a particular Interest, very different from, and oft-times inconsistent with the Religious Zeal they pre­tend. And generally, the Vul­gar believe that all Superiours are inclin'd to triumph over those who are subjected to them; many have also a secret perswa­sion that the Magistrates are still in League with the National Church, and its Hierarchy, which they suspect to be supported by them, because it maintains their Interest, and they are apt to consider Churchmen but as Pensioners, and so as Partizans to the Civil Magistrate.

Many are drawn into the e­steem of such Opinions as they see Men suffer difficulties for But this mistake was foreseen by the Primitive Church, who there­fore declared that non Paena, sed [Page 138] Causa facit Martyrem. Christian Prudence does not allow a Man to sell his precious Life for an incompetent Price; Forwardness that way does not always re­commend an Opinion: Men of all Perswasions have died with firmness; Pagans, yea, Women for their Country or Husbands have shewed a courage beyond any of these Bigots or Enthu­siasts. The History of China re­lates a notable Instance of fan­tastical Bigotry; an Hundred Thousand Chineses, who had born tamely their Nation's being en­slav'd by the Tartars, without making any Effort to recover their Liberty, chose rather to dye than conform to the Tartars, in turning up their Mustaches after their Mode; Vanity well disguis'd can flatter Men with the Glory of Martyrdom; and its observable that this Firmness faints often where Executions are [Page 139] Private; however, this should prevail with a Wise Magistrate, never to make Religious Opini­ons Criminal.

The true Cures then of this Dis­ease seem to be, First, to endea­vour to plant Reason early and carefully in the Hearts of Young ones, or to recover it in those of more advanced Years; for this is a more solid and effectu­al way, than the immediate op­posing, or offering to cure this Imperfection it self, will prove; Men love their old and familiar Acquaintance; Traveling abroad conduces much to this Cure; for such as converse only with those of their own Perswasion, are daily warm'd into new degrees of Zeal; whereas, when we see that Men of true sense differ from us, we will be inclin'd from a Christian Modesty and Humi­lity, first to doubt our own O­pinions, and then to hear In­structions: [Page 140] The Orthodox Clergy should by their Pious Lives con­duce to this Cure; and even La­icks should, by their serious and Devout Conversation, convince them that Sincerity and Piety are not inseparable from such hu­morous Conceits. These poor deluded People should consider what Mischiefs and Desolations those Vulcanos of Zeal have brought upon this Island by their dread­ful Eruptions; there being but very few Families, in which some of their Children have not been sacrificed to this Moloch: Nor can our Navies or Armies se­cure us while this Enemy lodg­eth within us, and is cherished by us. They should also con­sider, that Religious Reason left to it self will at last over­come those prejudices, which, like Meteors, may shine for a time, but will at last vanish into the common and undistinguish'd Air. [Page 141] But the best of all Remedies, is, to consider seriously the Do­ctrine and Practice of our Blessed Saviour (to form our Reason by which is the great design of this Essay) and therefore they should remember, that our Saviour fore­seeing the inconsequentialness of their Actions, did observe, that they did start at Straws, and swal­low Camels; that they tithed the Mint and Annise, but forgot the great things of the Law. Our Saviour's reasoning in the Parable of the Publican and Pharisee, should humble all spiritual Pride; and his humble and submissive Form of Prayer should bridle the indiscretion of all rude Addressers; He suffered the Sons of Zebedee to call for Fire from Heaven, that he might thereby instruct the World how unsuitable their Zeal was to his Gospel; he reasoned against fighting Peter, that if his [Page 142] Kingdom were of this Earth, his Servants would fight for him; and if he needed any Assistance, he might call for Legions of An­gels: Nor can I think, after this Instance, our Saviour would have trusted Peter, in his ab­sence, with two Swords, since he was so forward in his own presence, when he had but one: But if others will be so blind as not to follow our Saviour's way of reasoning, let us at least follow it, in praying for them, because they know not what they are doing; yet I wish both they and we would consider, that we resemble too much at this time the unhappy Iews, who, by fighting amongst themsleves, for small matters, relating to their Religious Rites, occasioned their being totally destroyed, and extirpated by the Romans who be­sieged them.

[Page 143] I know no greater enemy to just thoughts or Reasoning than Rail­lery and Satyrs, and the new way of reasoning by ridiculous Similies. Most Men are so famous for this kind of arguing, and do by it confute and baffle so much all who oppose it, that it passes for the stronger way of Reason­ing, Victory being still account­ed the Effect as well as the Re­ward of strength: But yet this way looks so sillie to Men when they retire and are alone, that they begin to wonder what it was that pleas'd them so before they left the conversation. And therefore I think it worth my pains to search a little into the causes of this vulgar errour, why Men are so much pleased with raillery, and why it prevails so in the World at this day?

The first cause of this, in my opinion, is, that Men naturally love Truth, as the Eyes do Light, [Page 144] or Bruits Food; for Truth is in­deed the Light and Food of the Soul; yet missing it, after much enquiry, and a passionate search, they do either conclude there is none, and so laugh at all others who seek it, or in revenge, con­temn it as a Cheat; and this breeds at first Raillery and Sa­tyrs; even as we see, that when Gallants are rebuked by a severe Mistress, they please or revenge themselves in railing at her, or treating her in ridicule. As States-men and Courtiers seldom fail, when thrown off, to use the Court and Employments from which they are fall'n, after the same manner. And since too few seek after Truth it self, na­ked and unrewarded; others a­gain weary of the toils and seve­rity required in true reasoning; rest on this, as the easiest; even as Men content themselves with gilded Plate, when they cannot [Page 145] attain to true Gold; and Raillery has become by this as ordinary as the false Jewels, with which so many now please themselves, in­stead, of true ones; and at a di­stance, and on the publick Thea­tre, even of business, the one ap­pears brisker than the other.

Raillery pleases also mens Self-love better than Truth; for Truth is too severe to flatter our Vanity, and too honest to serve our Re­venge; whereas Raillery does tempt the Jester to flatter him­self, and is an ordinary occasi­on for others to flatter him as a formidable Wit: Nor can the World find so fit a Tool for Re­venge as Raillery; since few durst even for fear of checks of Con­science stab their Neighbour, or for Honour wound him when his back is turn'd, if it were not in a pleasant jest, which makes Ma­lice pass for Wit, and cheats the Satyrists into a belief that they [Page 146] design not to wrong him, but to please the company: The Hearers also would hate such Enemies to Mankind, if they were not so ra­vish'd with the way, that they had not time to think on the Ma­lice. This misfortune also attends it, that it tempts men to do or say many things on which they would not otherwise adventure; presuming that their Wit, which is so much admir'd, will also fright or bribe others from accusing or punishing them.

Truth is a sober and equal Plea­sure, free from all transports and hateing them, and so seems dull and flat to young and warm Spi­rits; whereas that passion which accompanies Raillery, either in Joy or Revenge, is more vigorous and elevated; and it is indeed a wonder to think what force and energy there is in the Soul, when the Sails of its Imagination are filled with the prosperous gale of [Page 147] Applause, and by what secret springs the Fancy is able to raise it to such heights when it is warmly pleas'd; or what infinite numbers of ravishing Images ap­pear to a strong Fancy: And how it creates so many pleasant notions out of other Mens Infirmities: And what great variety and new­ness it constantly produces, form­ing always various Scenes of Joy, to the wonder even of sober men: I deny not, but some do from good Nature, and to please the Conversation, scoff and jest, and, as I said formerly, some seeing it so much admir'd, think it is truly good, it being a kind of mo­desty, to believe that good which pleases others; and some seeing Victory attend it, think it is the strongest way of arguing; and, thus this Weed rises and spreads, and we sit with delight under the refreshing shades; and with these raptures of Malice or Pleasure, [Page 148] Scoffers are so much taken, that they have not the leisure to think on what they ought to do, or even on what they are doing; and thus they forget frequently the duty they owe to great men, to whom they have access, and can hardly keep themselves with­in that moderation in Conversa­tion, Eating, Drinking, and o­ther Exercises that are requisite for preserving Health and Quiet, or for observing the Rules of Decency and Discretion: I con­clude, That Jesting and Satyrs are so far from being a relaxation of Spirit to those who are wearied with serious Employments, as is pretended, that they are oft-times rather a new and studied toil, and most of these extravagan­cies could scarce be pardon­ed; like bitter and sour Fruits which can hardly be eaten, except when confected with great care and expence. But if we look further [Page 149] into the matter, we shall find that nothing wrongs more both Rea­son and Piety, and is more de­structive to true Friendship, or more inconsistent with Sincerity.

For clearing whereof we may ob­serve, that every Faculty of the Soul contributes in a peculiar way to our reasoning: the Judgment does bring solid Arguments, the Me­mory Instances, Examples, and Citations, the Fancy or Imagina­tion beautifies rather than illumi­nates its Objects with Similies, Metaphors, and other Rhetorical Figures; so that Raillery neglect­ing the other two, sports it self lightly amidst those Flowers, with­out minding the great business; and I have observed, that few who have been once bewitched with this way, ever minded any other. This suffers them not to penetrate further than the outside of things, and so it is impossible, that they who use it as their con­stant [Page 150] divertisement, can have any deep thoughts, or can search into the bottom of Affairs.

I have also observed, that Rail­lery arises oft-times from an un­dervaluing of all persons and things, and nothing can be more contrary to Religion or Govern­ment than this is. To Religion, because, when a Man contemns all that God has created, he un­dervalues what the Almighty himself was pleased with, and rejoyced in, and scorns those great Exemplars of Piety and Devotion, whom God has called his Friends, and Men after his own heart; and so in effect he concludes, that God (blessed be his holy Name) made not good choice, and knew not how to value men a-right. And therefore I stand astonish'd to hear Ballads against Moses and David so much admir'd by such as confess there is a God, that the Scriptures are his Dictates, [Page 151] and they the Pen-men of these Scriptures, and so Secretaries to God: Nor do such Scoffers make good States-men; for none are such, save they who from a Prin­ciple of Conviction and Perswa­sion, manage publick Affairs to the advantage of those who em­ploy them: Whereas they who believe that nothing is worth their pains, can never do any thing with affection and vigour; and since they care not for the things themselves, and scorn such as employ them, they must ne­ver care for what Events attend them. Have we not seen some of these great Wits prove the worst of all States-men in our own days? and as far below the mean­ness in management as they were above the wisest in Wit and Sharpness. What Friends also these prove is sufficiently under­stood to those whom they have lost for a Jest, after all the ser­vices [Page 152] they could have done them: And it is very observable, that if Three or Four of them be in a Room, they who remain after such Conversations will fall on him who is gone with all the malice imaginable; and we very seldom see two such Wits true Friends.

I shall end these Reflections with this Addition, that gene­rally Satyrs are made up of Impiety, Malice or Baudery; the First, unworthy of a Chri­stian; the Second, of a Gentle­man; and the last, of a sober Man; and in which Railers have Atheists for their Masters, saty­rical Wasps for their Comrades, and oft-times Fools and mad Men for their Superiours. Un­happy Men who do things that they must be asham'd of, and whereof the pleasure is lessen'd in the present time by checks of Conscience, and grows bitter af­terwards by fear of Torments; a [Page 153] quality our Saviour never coun­tenanc'd, which his Favourites have ever zealously decry'd, in which Buffoons and Players have exceeded the greatest Kings, the most Renowned Hero's, and the Wisest men; a cowardly extra­vagancy which ever attacks the Weak, and a merciless humour which triumphs over the Unfor­tunate; upon which accounts all men make it their Interest to ex­pose the Scoffer, as finding in his Ruine their own Self-defence; and because they know he can­not be pleased except they be miserable, therefore they con­clude, that they cannot be secur­ed till he be humbled.

I design not by this to lessen the esteem due to true Wit, and that pleasantness in conversation which arises from it as Flowers do from the Root. The Almigh­ty certainly design'd to make all men happy, and there is no hap­piness [Page 154] without pleasure; and as he rejoyced, when he saw that all that he had made was good, so he was desirous that Man might find out this good, both for mak­ing himself thereby happy, and for inviting him the more to magnify the Creator, and there­fore to sweeten the miseries which naturally imbitter humane Life: God has illuminated some with a pleasantness of humour, which rejoyces the Society into which they come, as the Sun illuminates the Room into which it enters; these are they who having peace of Conscience at home, are there­by allowed to be glad; and who having Wit, employ it in turning the right side of things to them, understanding as well to find out what is pleasant in any Object as Artists do to find a Mine of Gold in a barren Mountain. This is the true use of Wit; and if at any time they use it to treat [Page 155] Vice or Extravagancy in ridicule, it is not from Malice to the Per­son, but from desire to re­form him, and Mankind by him. There is a justice in Scourging, Defaming, and Banishing Vice; and this Jurisdiction is given by Heaven immediately to such as have sense; of whom, upon that account, the greatest Rulers stand in awe; and so much reverence is due to them, that the rest of Mankind bestow applause accord­ing to their inclinations: Bitter­ness then, and sullen Moroseness in Wit is the tyranny of this Ju­risdiction: If it be insolent, it is but the wrong side of this delicate Picture, a flashing Light, which at first dazles, but thereafter blinds; a delicious Fruit corrupted into bitterness, and a beautiful Face wrinkled by fretting humours.

The Ancients term'd Wit a Salt; and that is not fit for Food, but for Seasoning; it may be us'd plenti­fully [Page 156] in Conversation, moderately in Business, but never in Religion.

They who enter into a Faction do not properly reason weakly: but desert Reason altogether, as one does who leaves his own to go into another Country, whereof the Laws Customs and Language are diffe­rent. The design and center of Faction is to drive on such a Project, and adhere to those who prosecute it. And therefore nothing must be allow'd or argu'd but with respect to these. Hence it is that in vain you reason with them; for one may transubstantiate as soon as convert them, all that their Friends say is unanswerable, and they contemn and scorn what is said by their Ad­versaries when they cannot answer it; there is no crime they dare not commit, for the Guilt seems but small when divided amongst so ma­ny bearers, they warm themselves by clubbing into a kind of belief, and they vote themselves into a shadow [Page 157] of Infallibility; whilst they cry out against others as Slaves to the Go­vernment, they become really Slaves to the Faction, their Liveries and Chains being seen by all, except themselves; but the great Salary with which their Bondage is to be rewarded, is Applause from their Friends, or it may be the Mob, to whom naturally their Appeal lies, and the getting into the Govern­ment, where they will be abhorred for practising every thing they for­merly decry'd, & so have that repu­tation for which they toil'd, blasted by their own old Arguments; this extravagancy is in it self so unaccep­table to all devout and reasonable men, that it is forc'd to use Railery to baffle Religion by Bigotry, and Reason by Railery; and I believe that Faction was the first introducer of the one into the Church, and of the other into the State.

My chiefest wish then shall be, that God who has ennobled me [Page 158] with right Reason, may make me happy in the right use of it; that I may neither sell it for Money, nor barter it for Fame; and that it may never be dazled by the shining brightness of Favour, nor clouded by the black shadows of Fear; and tho' the portion be­stowed upon me be very small, that yet I may employ that one precious Talent so, as that I may have from my Glorious Master that only desireable Character, Well done, good and faithful ser­vant, thou hast been faithful in a few things, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord, Matth. 25. 23.


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