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be a rare felicity, and hath in it much safety; yet it hath less honour, and fewer instances of virtue, unless it proceed from a confirmed and heroical grace; which is indeed a little image of heaven and of a celestial charity, and never happens signally to any, but to old and very eminent persons. 10. But some also add an excellent habit of body and material passions, such as are chaste and virtuous dreams; and suppose, that, as a disease abuses the fancy, and a vice does prejudice it, so may an excellent virtue of the soul smooth and calcine the body, and make it serve perfectly, and without rebellious indispositions. 11. Others are in love with Mary Magdalen's tears, and fancy the hard knees of St. James, and the sore eyes of St. Peter, and the very recreations of St. John; "Proh! quam virtute præditos omnia decent!" thinking" all things become a good man," even his gestures and little incuriosities. And though this may proceed from a great love of virtue, yet because some men do thus much and no more, and this is to be attributed 'to the lustre of virtue, which shines a little through a man's eye-lids, though he perversely winks against the light; yet (as the former of these two is too metaphysical, so is the latter too fantastical,) he, that, by the foregoing material parts and proper significations of a growing grace, does not understand his own condition, must be content to work on still super totam materiam,' without considerations of particulars; he must pray earnestly, and watch diligently, and consult with prudent guides, and ask of God great measures of his Spirit, and "hunger and thirst after right ́eousness:" for he that does so, shall certainly "be satisfied." And if he understands not his present good condition, yet if he be not wanting in the downright endeavours of piety, and in hearty purposes, he shall then find that he is grown in grace, when he springs up in the resurrection of the just, and shall be engrafted upon a tree of paradise, which beareth fruit for ever, glory to God, rejoicing to saints and angels, and eternal felicity to his own pious, though undiscerning soul. "Prima sequentem, honestum est in secundis aut tertiis consistere."
OF GROWTH IN
SIN OR, THE SEVERAL STATES AND
THEY ARE TO BE TREATED.
And of some have compassion, making a difference: And
MAN hath but one entrance into the world; but a thousand
almost necessary, scarce avoidable; then God does, and so we are commanded to cure them, and cover them with a veil of pity, compassion, and gentle remedies: if our evils be violent, inveterate, gangrened, and incorporated into our nature by evil customs, they must be pulled from the flames of hell with censures, and cauteries, and punishments, and sharp remedies, quickly and rudely; their danger is present and sudden, its effect is quick and intolerable, and there are no soft counsels then to be entertained; they are already in the fire, but they may be saved for all that. So great, so infinite, so miraculous is God's mercy, that he will not give a sinner over, though the hairs of his head be singed with the flames of hell. God's desires of having us to be saved continue, even when we begin to be damned; even till we will not be saved, and are gone beyond God's method, and all the revelations of his kindness. And certainly that is a bold and a mighty sinner, whose iniquity is swelled beyond all the bulk and heap of God's revealed loving-kindness: if sin hath swelled beyond grace, and superabounds over it, that sin is gone beyond the measures of a man; such a person is removed beyond all the malice of human nature, into the evil and spite of devils and accursed spirits; there is no greater sadness in the world than this. God hath not appointed a remedy in the vast treasures of grace for some men, and some sins; they have sinned like the fallen angels, and having overrun the ordinary evil inclinations of their nature, they are without the protection of the Divine mercy, and the conditions of that grace, which was designed to save all the world, and was sufficient to have saved twenty. This is a condition to be avoided with the care of God and his angels, and all the whole industry of man. In order to which end, my purpose now is to remonstrate to you the several states of sin and death, together with those remedies which God had proportioned out to them; that we may observe the evils of the least, and so avoid the intolerable mischiefs of the greater, even of those sins which still are within the power and possibilities of recovery; lest insensibly we fall into those sins, and into those circumstances of person, for which Christ never died, which the Holy Ghost never means to cure, and which the eternal God never will pardon for there are of this kind more than commonly men imagine,
whilst they amuse their spirits with gaieties and false principles, till they have run into horrible impieties, from whence they are not willing to withdraw their foot, and God is resolved never to snatch and force them thence.
I." Of some have compassion."- And these I shall reduce to four heads or orders of men and actions; all which have their proper cure proportionable to their proper state, gentle remedies to the lesser irregularities of the soul. 1. The first are those, that sin without observation of their particular state; either because they are uninstructed in the special cases of conscience, or because they do an evil, against which there is no express commandment. It is a sad calamity, that there are so many millions of men and women that are entered into a state of sickness and danger, and yet are made to believe they are in perfect health; and they do actions, concerning which they never made a question whether they were just or no, nor were ever taught by what names to call them. For while they observe that modesty is sometimes abused by a false name, and called clownishness and want of breeding; and contentedness and temperate living is suspected to be want of courage and noble thoughts; and severity of life is called imprudent and unsociable; and simplicity and hearty honesty is counted foolish and impolitic they are easily tempted to honour prodigality and foolish dissolution of their estates with the title of liberal and noble usages. Timorousness is called caution, rashness is called quickness of spirit, covetousness is frugality, amorousness is society and gentile, peevishness and anger is courage, flattery is humane and courteous and under these false veils virtue slips away (like truth from under the hand of them that fight for her), and leaves vice dressed up with the same imagery, and the fraud not discovered till the day of recompences, when men are distinguished by their rewards. But so men think they sleep freely, when their spirits are laden with a lethargy; and they call a hectic fever the vigour of a natural heat, till nature changes those less discerned states into the notorious images of death. Very many men never consider, whether they sin or no in ten thousand of their actions, every one of which is very disputable, and do not think they are bound to consider: these men are to be pitied and instructed, they are to be called upon to use
religion like a daily diet; their consciences must be made tender, and their catechism enlarged; teach them, and make them sensible, and they are cured.
But the other sins in this place are more considerable : men sin without observation, because their actions have no restraint of an express commandment, no letter of the law to condemn them by an express sentence. And this happens, when the crime is comprehended under a general notion, without the instancing of particulars: for if you search over all the Scripture, you shall never find incest named and marked with the black character of death; and there are divers sorts of uncleanness to which Scripture therefore gives no name, because she would have them have no being. And it had been necessary that God should have described all particulars, and all kinds, if he had not given reason to man for so it is fit that a guide should point out every turning, if he be to teach a child or a fool to return unto his father's roof. But he that bids us avoid intemperance for fear of a fever, supposes you to be sufficiently instructed that you may avoid the plague: and, when to look upon a woman with lust is condemned, it will not be necessary to add, 'You must not do more,' when even the least is forbidden and when to uncover the nakedness of Noah brought an universal plague upon the posterity of Cham, it was not necessary that the lawgiver should say, 'You must not ascend to your father's bed, or draw the curtains from your sister's retirements.' When the Athenians forbade to transport figs from Athens, there was no need to name the gardens of Alcibiades; much less was it necessary to add, that Chabrias should send no plants to Sparta. Whatsoever is comprised under the general notion, and partakes of the common nature and the same iniquity, needs no special prohibition; unless we think we can mock God, and elude his holy precepts with an absurd trick of mistaken logic. I am sure that will not save us harmless from a thunderbolt.
2. Men sin without an express prohibition, when they commit a thing, that is like a forbidden evil. And when St. Paul had reckoned many works of the flesh, he adds, ' and such like,' all that have the same unreasonableness and carnality. For thus polygamy is unlawful: for if it be