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called religion : for, that was to release the minds of
men from those unnatural obligations their religion laid
upon them. But no such thing can be said of that !
religion which we prosess. For, the work of our re-
ligion is to teach men to avoid evil, and to do good.
And this doth no more confine mens liberty, than
for men to confine themselves within the measures
of fobriety and temperance, and to avoid those things
which would do them hurt and prejudice. No man
thinks he is under restraint, if he be confin'd to eat
and drink only those things that will do him good.
For, if this were liberty and perfection to do one thing
as well as another ; evil, as well as good, without dif-
ference or distinction; then, let me ask you ; where
is God's liberty ? From hence it would follow, that
of all the world, God is most tied and bound ; that
he (in whom there is fulness of liberty, having all powa
er) is most limited. For, God faith of himself, that
he cannot do evil; that he doth banish it from his
throne, and that he is of purer eyes, than to behold ini-
quity, Hab. i. 13. I conclude therefore, 'tis not power,
but weakness ; not perfection, but deformity, for any
one to be able to do otherwise than what is right and
fit to be done. For this cannot be said of God him-
self. For, all the ways of God, are ways of goodness,
righteousness and truth.

Now, the better to inforce what hath been said about religion, I will balance the two opposite states; that which is founded in religion, and that which is founded in evil and fin : that by comparing both together, you may understand the one and the other. For, contraries are the best comments, one upon anoVOL. IV.

R

ther.

ther. And to this purpose, I will take into consideration, these particulars.

First, It doth not deserve the honourable title of religion, or to be taken for the effect of respect to God, or conscience to right, which doth not refine mens fpirits, rectify their apprehenfions, and regulate their actions. Even nature's sense, as depraved as it is, doth startle at any vile practice. For, nothing is more true, than that all evil is against the nature of man, till it is marred and spoiled by consenting to iniquity. For witness hereof, take Hazael as an instance, who startled at the mention of those sins which the prophet told him of ; insomuch that he faith, Is thy servant a dog, that he should do such things? 2 Kings viii. 13. For, impudency, immodesty, and cruelty, are not, primarily, in the nature of man: but they are contracted by base use, custom and practice. Of wickedness there is no account to be given ; either of itself, or of the degree of it : for, it is contrary to reafon. And when the rule of right is once broken and violated, no man knows where a person will stay.

-Let us consider the open declarations that are from God against wickedness, both by denunciation, and execution, Rom. i. 18. Prov. i. 26. 'Tis true, God oftentimes hath long patience with a wicked world, but it is in order to their repentance.

Tho' men are very apt to misunderstand this compassion of God towards finners. For it is observed, Ecc. viii. 11. that because sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed, therefore the hearts of the sons of men are set to do mischief. But yet, there is a present recompence of evil. For, all inordinacy of mind, car

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ries with it, its own punishment. All wickedness carries with it uneasiness of spirit and dissatisfa&tion.

Another thing that I would offer to your confideration, is, the malign nature of evil, and the difmal consequence thereof. For, it is that which poisons the nature of man ; and turns angels into devils. Man, which by nature, is a loving, mild, and gentle creature ; it makes fierce, and cruel. The world, which by the appointment of God, is a place habitable, and fit to live in ; it turns into a wildirne's of tygers, and savage creatures ; for, the apostle faith, Jam. iv. I. Whence come wars and fightings ? Come they not from your lufts that war in your members ? If it were not for the exorbitancy of mens fpirits, and wickedness of mens hearts, and lives, it would be the better for every man, by how many the more men there were in the world : whereas, now, many men are formidable : and, a man runs a hazard, to run into company. .

Another confideration is the unaccountableness of not revoking by repentance, what a man hath done amiss. For, this second evil is greater than the first, For, not to repent, is to justify the evil that hath been done, and to stand to it. For the first evil, fomething may be alledged ; to wit, ignorance, inadver: tency, temptation, and the like : but, where men continue in evil, and do not revoke it by repentance, this tends to settle them in a wicked mind.----- It is our contracting guilt, and giving God an offence, by our carelessness, and consenting to iniquity, that is the cause of all that trouble and perplexity that befals

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There is no foundation of internal peace, but in

us.

a conscience void of offence both towards God, and man. He that carries guilt in his breast, hath I ophet burning within him. The conscience not eased by repentance, but under guilt, hath horror and confusion, which is a hell, on this side hell : I had almost said, the worst of hell itself. For, if to this we add, the sense of God's offence, you have the hell of hell. There is no pleasure or satisfaction either in life, or at the hour of death, but in living according to the dictates of right reason. For, this is the light of God, in men God's viceroy, or vicegerent, and that which is fundamental to conscience. So that if we approve ourselves therein, we shall not give God offence, nor wound our own fpirits. And, for this, I dare refer myself to any man who hath not contracted reprobacy of mind, that these things are so. But, for such men, they can no more judge of the reality of a state, than men that are in a fever, can relish food. This, in reality, may be defended against the whole world, that there is nothing desirable, lasting, or satisfactory, but what is honest. Nothing that is base or vile, can be pleasant. Good men, who are under the power of reason and religion, they are free men, and happy, in any condition, whether fick, or well ; at liberty, or shut up : and, bad men, are plaves in the best condition : for, they are under the tyranny of their lusts, which are tyrants, and usurpers, that have no authority, nor any right to govern. The desires of nature are moderate ; but, the cravings of inordinate appetites are neither to be resisted, nor satisfied. And, hence it comes to pass, that virtue is antecedent to happiness, and vice, to misery. It is vice and wickedness that fills a

man

man with uneasiness, disorder, doubtfulness, and irresolution. And these put a man besides himself, and out of the true use of reason, which doth represent God to man : so that he is even a mad man, that questions his being; or that dares to give God an offence, by doing any thing that is evil. For, we account that these two go together ; to know God, and the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. And they that have apoftatized from matters of revelation, yet have acknowledged, that there is belonging to the nature of man, an inclination to, and a persuasion of, a divine being. For, most certain it is, that the mind of man as to God, holds the same sufficiency and proportion, that the eye of man holds to light; which if a man do but open, he cannot but see. So if a man do but use reason, he must see, and acknowledge God. The wise man tells us, that the Spirit of a man is the candle of the Lord, Prov. xx. 27. A candle lighted by God, and serving to this purpose to discern and discover God. And, truly, were it not thus, wherein would consist the excellency of human nature, above the inferior nature? What a contemptible creature were man, if he could not lift up himself above these worldly things ? Were it not thus, life itself were not greatly valuable. Take from man this power and capacity ; and there is nothing in the world for which a man would suffer pain or cold, or break his sleep. For, what is there in worldly drudgery? We, often, have little more than our labour for our travel.

Now, this is my argument. If nature carry in it, sense of Deity; and, if to the nature of man belong true notions of the several per fecR3

Irons

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