Page images

There is no heart's ease like to that which riseth from sense of reconciliation to God, and walking in ways of righteousness. For, in these ways, mens hearts never check them, nor occasion them any disquiet. For, let the world say what they will, to be challenged by the reason of a man's mind, goes nearer to a man's heart than the censure of all the world besides. To act contrary to the reason of one's own mind, is to do a thing most unnatural and cruel : it is to offer violence to a man's self ; and to act against a man's truest use and interest. For, all manner of wickedness is a burden to the mind : and every man that doth amiss, doth abuse himself. For, it is not possible for any man to run away from himself, or to forget what he hath done. He must stand to the bargain that he hath made ; and abide by the choice that he hath taken : and, in the whole world, there is nothing so grievous for a man to think of, as that, when he did amiss, and made a mad choice, he went against the sense of his own mind ; for, in this cafe, he is not heart-whole. There is no man who knows himself, but knows what I now speak is true. Tho' I know it is common in the world, for men to do against reason, and to live by chance : and not to pursue any true intention, or follow any worthy defign: but, as it happens; and, as company and occafion leads them; fo they act, be it better or worse; not considering, that what matter of difease is to the body (which many times is very grievous, and so indisposes a man, as to put him quite out of self-enjoyment) the fame is, malignancy in the mind, guilt in the conscience. Nay, I may fay, that these are much more troublesome and grievous to be born, than any malignant matter of disease can be to the body.

ons of sense.


They make no true judgment of religion, that take it to be a limitation, and restraint upon man's liberty. Yet, some are so foolish as to think, that, if God would, we might have lived as we lift, and have been released from those many obligations that religion seems to lay upon us. Whereas, this is as great a lie as ever the father of lies could invent. For, religion is not a burdensome and troublesome thing ; which, if God had not commanded, might have been forborn, and all things have been as well. No ; there is nothing in real and true religion, that is of that nature. And, this I dare defend against the whole world ; that there is no one thing in all that religion which is of Goil's making, that any sober man in the true use of his reason, would be released from, tho' he might have it under the seal of heaven. For, {uch a dispensation would be greatly to his loss and prejudice : as much as if the physician, instead of giving wholesome physick to his patient, should give poison. For, all things in real religion tend either to conserve, or restore the soundness and perfection of our minds; and to continue God's creation in the true state of liberty and freedom. So that if a man did understand himself, and were put to his choice ; he would rather choose to part with the health and soundness of his body, than with the purity and integrity of his mind. For as much as the one is his far greater concern : 'and he had much better live with a distempered crazy body, than with a troubled difquiVol. IV,


[ocr errors]


et mind, and guilty conscience.-- But, on this subject, I have many things to say ; and therefore will digest them into five heads.

First, Man by his nature and constitution, as God made him at first, being an intelligent agent, hath sense of good and evil, upon a moral account. All inferior beings have sense of convenience or inconvenience, in a natural way: and, accordingly, all inferior creatures do choose, or refuse. For, you cannot get a mere animal, either to eat or drink that which is not good and agreeable to its nature. And, whereas we call this instinct ; it is most certain that, in intelligent agents, this other is instinct, at least. And, for this reason, man is faulty, when either he is found in a naughty temper, or any bad practice. For, he hath judgment and power of discerning : he is made to know the difference of things : and he acts as a mad man, that knowing what is better, chooseth the worse. This is the ground and foundation of man's being truly miserable ; for, to be happy, or miserable, is mainly in his intellectual nature.

Inferior natures may suffer wrong : but they are not capable of happiness or misery, as intellectual agents are ; because they are not acquitted or condemned from within ; nor have any thing to challenge or reprove them.

Secondly, Man being made to know God; hath sense of his own privation, in the loss of so great and universal a good as God is. For, he is made happy in the enjoyment, and miserable in the loss of him, And, tho' diversion, and other enjoyments, may give fome entertainment, for a while ; yet when a man stays at home, or returns to himself by consideration,


he feels inward perplexity in himself, because some necessary good is wanting to him. His own knowledge makes him capable of good and evil; and senfible of being miserable, if he be deprived of that good which God made him capable of. Such is the nature of our souls, that they cannot be happy, but in this way, and by the use of their intellectual faculty. Otherwise, the soul will be sensible of its privation and loss. Virtue, and vice, are the foundations of peace and happiness, or sorrow and misery, there is inherent punishment belonging to all naughtiness: and no power can divide or separate them ; but they will follow one another. For, tho' God should not; in a positive way, inflict punishment ; or any inftrument of God. punish a finner ; yet he would punish himself: because he cannot be satisfied in what he doth contrary to reason, and the sense of his own mind. There is no security to a finner : the least that will attend him, is fear, and suspicion of danger. Diversion (which is the way that many men take,) going to some pleasure, or into company ; is but a put-off, for a while : and when they retire; it will return upon them, with greater force and violence. For, all moral evil is against the nature of man; and condemned by the reason of the mind : and can no other way be prevented but by the motion of repena tance and application to God,

Thirdly, Our souls acting upon God, discover their virtues ; and display their powers ; and show their mettle and sprightfulness. Whereas, if à man be diverted from God, the reason of his mind is as much without employment, as the eye which is in the dark,


N 2

for, it is the presence of the object, that puts the faculty upon acting. So, if God be withdrawn ; our minds cannot be drawn forth ; for, they are without their proper object ; for, other-where, save only in God, our fouls are not matched, so as to make proof of themselves. We know not our powers and faculties, but by their afts : and we cannot act, but in the presence of the object ; if a man be separated from God ; his mind and understanding are without their proper object; and, so, are as little to him, as his fight is to him, when he is in the dark. I am apt to think, that in the heavenly state hereafter, when God shall otherwise declare himself to us, than now he doth ; those latent powers which now we have, may open, and unfold themselves ; and thereby we may be made able to act in a far higher way, than we are at present. Now, we have many avocations and diversions : but, when we shall come to have nearer approaches to God; we shall have more use of our felves ; and shall find ourselves more able, than we are at present, in this limited and contracted state. For, this we have present experience of; that if we give ourselves up to meditation upon God, and employ our minds in sincere intention of him, and his service ; we do thereby ennoble and enlarge our faculties, which otherwise would shrivel up, and grow every day less and less. I am very confident, that by religious motion men are a thousand times more improved, than by any worldly drudgery whatsoever.

Fourthly, Because of the vast desires that are in man, there is great dissatisfaction in all things below a man's self : and that, all worldly things are. The

« PreviousContinue »