« 前へ次へ »
fions, and very strong Passions. The stronger guard, 'tis sure, we are bound to set against them. But still here may be the Suddenness, or the Violence, of a Temptation, though not resisted as it should have been. But now,' when a Perfon entertains Others with his Lewdness, and when those Others think themselves entertained by it ; This is all done in cold Blood, This argues a wretched Depravation of the Will, a Man more lost to Modesty and Chastity, and a more habitual Impurity, than a single Act of a higher Degree. And it seems very reasonable to believe, that many Sinners, in common account more infamous, shall find it much more tolerable at the Bay of Judgment, than those obscene and filthy Wretches, whose Tongues and Ears are defiled, if their Bodies be not. These Persons are not one whit the less impure, because, did they abstain upon a Principle, (call it Religion, Honour, What you will) the same is of equal force, to breed a disgust to all open breaches upon Decency and Modesty. That they proceed no farther, may be from fear of Shame, or Disease, or the like: And for this Restraint they have their Reward. But that they go so far, is a plain Evidence of a Conscience greatly misinformed, or greatly defiled. For the delighting in another's Sin is so far from rendring it none to us; that St. Paul puts this last, as the highest aggravation of the Heathen World's Abominations,
Who knowing the judgment of God, (that
they who commit such things are worthy of death) not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them,
Mean while this Dinike of other People's Wickedness, though common to all who are truly good, must be conicnt with such Expressions, and outward Indications, as are proper and practicable. Where Circumstances will bear it, Reproof, Friendly Admonition, or Authoritative Rebukes, are highly ex
Rom. i. 32.
pedient. Where they will not, we must have recourse to a forbidding Look, a Silence marking Sorrow or Displeasure, withdrawing from the Company, or some such Testimony of being ill at ease, as a Wise and Good Man will find always at hand, and chuse, as a Pious but difcreei Zeal shall direct.
3. But Thirdly, There is one sort of Reproof, which no conjuncture of Circumstances can put out of our power, and it seems to have been That, which this Apostle had chiefly in view, The disclaiming all Fellowship with the Works of Darkness, by the Light of a good Example. For, it is here, as with those Metaphors made use of to denote them, that a Bad Example is never so effectually exposed, nor the Deformity and Odiousness of it so manifestly detected, as when set in Opposition to, and illustrated by, a Good one. Now this Reproof, as it is a Duty indispensable in the Person giving, so is it unexceptionable, and can create no Resentment, in the Persons on whom it falls. The less, because it is not particularly directed to This or That Man, but general, and intended for all that need it. The less still, because impossible to proceed from Envy, or Malice, or Peevishness, and a desire to find fault ; as other Reproofs may, often do, and, when they do not, are at least accused of doing so, the better to elude the force, and defeat the intended effect of them. But This is not only a Rebuke, but a Guide, and an Encouragement, to all that observe it. It shews them the Way, goes before them in it, proves the possibility of Obedience, and beats Men off from all those fond Pretences of Duties difficult or impracticable, from whence they seek Protection for their Hypocrisy, or their Sloth. It proves the Person's Sincerity, and thus recommends him to Imitation ; and, where there is an opportunity for arguing, it persuades and convinces, above all the Rhetorick in the World. That can but de
fcribe, and help the Imagination to some abstracted Ideas of Virtue ; This shews the Life, and by reducing those Ideas into Practice, appeals to Sense, and Observation, and Experience, for the Excellence, the Beauty, the Usefulness, and upon all Accounts the Loveliness of Religion.
4. Particularly in the Fourth place, as the most undeniable Evidence, that the Good Man hath no fellowship with the works of darkness, he will think himself concerned to abstain very carefully, not only from every thing that is positively and directly finful, but from all appearances of, and approaches to, Evil. The want of this Caution ruins multitudes of unwary Souls. Many there are indeed who make a Conscience of breaking a plain and peremptory Law; but, as if they were under the Government of some Arbitrary and Tyrannical Lord, they appear upon all occasions extremely nice, and jealous of their Liberty, and seem to be more sollicitous for nothing, than to prevent Encroachments. Hence we find so many difinal Consequences, whose first beginning owed it self to the abuse of things in themselves indifferent. Hence St. Chrysostom, with equal
Piety and Wisdom, from those words in the 4th of this Epistle, Let no corrupt Communication come out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, &c. expostulates thus: “ That Evil “ is very great, which is reputed none at all. For “ what we count no Evils, we are apt to overlook ; “ When thus despised, they quickly grow upon us ; “ and so continue growing, till they become incura“ ble. And again, upon this Chapter, This is the “ Artifice of the Devil, to persuade Men to disregard
things indifferent. For even such ought not to be “ despised, since we know, that from this very cause
many enormous and great Evils have grown; and “ from Foolish Talking Men rise to Fornication and “ Adultery, &c. In thort, it shews a Mind but ill
disposed, when a Man is curious and inquisitive about the Bounds of Christian Liberty; and, upon every occasion, for going to the very End of his Line. A Course exceeding hazardous, and such as gives the Tempter great Advantage. For, when we are perpetually upon the Confines; he easily gains Opportunities of luring us into his own Territories, and of deceiving us by the shortness of the distance. This at least shews a secret Affection for Evil. And the very deliberating to a nicety, how far we may venture, is faulty ; Because it argues our Wishes, that we might still go
farther. The truly Pious Man, on the other hand, finds no occasion for Scruples of this kind. He resolves to be safe, and to go upon sure grounds. He never tampers with his Conscience, nor runs the risque of a Difputable Case. Where Duties are commanded in the general, without a measure fet, he chuses rather to exceed, than to stop fort: As in the frequency of Prayer, the Quantity of his Alms, and the like. And where Refreshments, or Recreations, or Pleasures, (or any other thing, which is the proper Object of Temperance and Prudence) are allowed, but the Circumstances and degrees are left to his own Discretion; he always takes less than he might justify. This plainly shews the Man devoted to God and his Duty. This acquits him from any fellowship with the works of darknels, which the Doubters, and the nice Ballancers of Christian Liberty, cannot be cleared of. Because, were there not a sensual and selfish Principle at bottom, which would fain compound the matter between God and Mammon, Religion and Appetite, Darkness and Light ; such Evasions and Distinctions had never been heard of, as were invented, and are applied, ('tis to be feared not to teach Men, how much they should do, but how Little would serve the turn; not how affectionately they should love God, but how well they may love Pleasure with Impunity. In a
Word, an Honest Heart is the best Casuift ; and will preserve us from Danger and Disquiet, better than all the Schoolmen, and critical Distinguishers in the World. Those may help to resolve a Doubt, but this will not venture, where there is a Doubt ; and it is Wisdom, as great as all Their Volumes contain, not to come in the way of needing any of them.
The Third Sunday in Lent.
St. Luke xi. 14. 14. E SUS was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. Ard it came to
pass, when the devil cvas gone out, the dumb spake : and the people
wondered, 1. But some of them said, be castetb out devils, through Beelzebub, the chief of rbe devils.
PARAPHR AS E.
16. Others distrust- 16. And orber tempting him, sougbt of bim a figa ing theie Evidences of from Heaven. his Melli aship, required him to thew fome Sign from Heaven, alluding pollibly to the Prophecy of Daniel vii. 13. To these he replies, ver. 29. To the former Objection he answers here. (The whole whereof being explained particularly in the Comment, I forbear any farther Paraphrase.)
17. But he knowing their thoughts, said unto tbem, every kingdom divided againft it self is brought to defolation ; and a bouje divided against a horse fallerb.
18. If Satan also be divided against himself, bow shall bis kingdom fiand ? because je say, that I caft our devils throub Beelzebub.
19. ind if I by Beelzebub cajt out devils, by wbom do your sons cast them out ? therefore jisall they be your judges
20. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.
21. Wben a strong man armed keeperb bis palace, bis goeds are in peace.
22. But when a stronger than be shall come upon him, and overcome bim, be takerb from kim all his armour wherein be trusted, and divideth bis Spoils.
23. He ikat is not with me is against me, and be obar gurberetb not with me, scattereth :
24. ti ken the unclean spirit is gone out of a man be walketb througb dry places, seeking rejt: ard finding nore, be saith, I will return unto my bouje wberce I came ou".
23. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26. Then goeth be, and taketh to bim seven orker Spirits, more wicked ikan bim