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If gentlemen, therefore, by this means be generally cor rupted and infected by debauchery, their influence and example is likely to infect the greateft part of the body politic; and either make the people easily pliable to the charms and courtships of Popery, for the reafon before-mentioned; or fo befot their excellent parts, and enervate their mafculine courage, that they fhall fall an easy prey to their (otherwise) weak and defpicable enemies.
And certainly, gentlemen, we have all caufe to reckon this plot very far advanced, when we shall fee debauchery every where made the badge of gentility; and chastity, temperance, and fobriety, become the marks and notes of infamy. When civility itself shall be hiffed with derifion out of some gentlemens company; and the more temperate and fober any man is, by fo much the lefs fit to be a gentleman's companion.
By this time I hope you are convinced, that true gentility is no enemy to fobriety, nor debauchery the character of gentility; and will at laft pardon, if not thank me, for endeavouring this way to fecure the true honour of fome, whilst I rationally argue down the vices and follies of others. This plea for debauchery, you fee, hath the fame fate the former had, and deferves never to be mentioned more.
9. There is but one plea more; and that as filly and irrational as any of the former; and that is,
The custom and habit of fwearing, which you fay is hard to be broken. This fin is become fo customary to you, that now you Scarce note or obferve it in yourselves.
That there may be truth in the matter of this plea, I neither deny nor doubt; but that it is a rational and allowable plea, will never be granted by your own reafon. The thing you fay may be true; for we fometimes find, that when you are taxed for fwearing, you will presently swear that you did not swear; and curse him to his face, that accuses you for curfing.
But pray, gentlemen, make your own reafon judge, whether cuftom be a valid and allowed plea for profane fwearing and curfing. Say, reafon, wilt thou allow that one of the highest aggravations of fin, is pleadable in thy court for the excuse and extenuation of it? Wilt thou give it under thy hand, that the man, is the less gilty, because the more wicked? Dareft thou to warrant it that God will take the lefs notice of the wrongs men do him, because they are ufed and accuftomed fo to wrong and abuse him every hour in the day? If your reafon can allow
and warrant this, I muft fay it is different, yea, and opposite to the common reafon of mankind.
Say not, I make my own reason the rule and ftandard of yours, or other mens. For I argue here (as I have done all along before) upon the common topics and maxims of reafon, generally allowed all the world over by mankind. If a practice be evil, the oftener it is repeated, the more ftill it is aggravatěd.
To be plain and faithful with you, gentlemen, if it be your eustom to blafpheme, it is God's cuftom to damn blafphemers. If you use to be drunk and unclean, God uses to punish drunkards and adulterers (if impenitent and unreformed) with his everlasting wrath.
And when you are cited (as fhortly you muft be) before the awful tribunal of the great, the juft, and the terrible God, afk but yourselves, whether fuch a plea as this, be like to excuse you in whole, or in part, and take off the heinousness of these horrid impieties? Will your profane oaths, and direful execrations and imprecations, be excufed in the leaft degree, by telling him, Lord, I was fo accustomed to blafpheme thy name; curfing, fvearing, and damning, were fo familiar language in my lips from day to day, that I had quite loft the sense of the action, as well as of the evil thereof; and therefore, Lord, pity, spare and have mercy on me: O damn not my foul to thine everlasting wrath. For though I have imprecated it upon myfelf, yet frequent custom at length extinguished all my fenfe and confcience of the evil thereof, till at length I could play with a direful imprecation as an harmless thing; nay, thought it an ornament and grace to my speech, a gallant expreffion, alamode the times and places I lived in.
Is not this as good a plea, and not a jot better than that of a malefactor upon his trial for life and death, when theft or robbery have been evidently and fubftantially proved upon him, and the judge demandeth, What he hath to fay for himself, why fentence of death fhould not pass upon him? Mercy, my Lord, mercy cries hè ! for I have been so used and accustomed to filching and thieving from my youth up, that for fome years before I was apprehended, every one's goods and cattle feemed to me to look like my own; fo that I fcarce knew when I ftole, and when I did not.
And thus, gentlemen, you have heard a fair trial of the fin of profane fwearing, and imprecations of damnation; and you have heard the verdict of your own reafon and confcience A a a
upon the cafe. The Lord help you to break off and reform that fin, for which there is not one word of apology or excufe now left in your mouths.
Let me clofe all I have to fay upon this head, with one plain question: Do you think you must die, or live here for ever, as you now do? If you are convinced (as all the living are suppofed to be) that you must die, do you defire an eafy and comfortable, or a painful and terrible death? I prefume there is no man living, that is convinced he muft die, but defires naturally and rationally an 'Eodavaclav, as eafy and comfortable a diffolution as may be. If fo, I appeal to your reafon, whether profane fwearing and blafpheming the name of God, be a proper rational way to obtain peace and comfort at death? With what hope or encouragement can those tongues of yours cry at death, Lord, have mercy upon me, which have profaned that name, and imprecated damnation from him, till you came into your last extremities, which convinced you, you could live no longer.
It is a ferious queftion, and well worth a cool and folemn debate in your own reasons and confciences. Some of you are more immediately expofed to the dangers of death than others, readily to be disbanded by a bullet. If you fall, you muft either fall confiderately, or inconfiderately. If inconfiderately, and without any fenfe or confcience of this horrid guilt, you die impenitently, and confequently defperately and miferably. If confiderately, and with awakened confciences, I demand, whether fuch guilt as this will not roar louder than the peals and vollies of thofe great and small guns do which breathe destruction upon you, and round about you ? I have done my meffage plainly and faithfully to the very face or your reafon and confcience; and if for my faithfulness and zeal, both for God's honour and yours, I am rewarded with your curses; yet, if you would forbear to blafpheme and rend in pieces the name of God, I fhall not much regard the obloquy and reproach my name fhall undergo and fuffer upon that ac count: But I expect from you better fruit than this.
CHA P. IV.
Wherein reafon and confcience are again confulted about the practice of drunkenness; and their righteous and impartial cenfure given upon that cafe.
§ I. HOUH our fouls and bodies be of vaftly different natures and originals, yet they do clafp and embrace each other with most dear and tender affection. It is marvellous to behold fuch a fpiritual and heavenly creature as the foul in all men, fervently loving, and in most men fondly doting upon a lump of clay, a clod of earth: it fympathizeth tenderly with it. If the meaneft member of the body be in pain, the foul is presently concerned for it, and evidences itself to be fo, by commanding the eyes both to watch and weep, the tongue to complain and moan, the hands to bind up its wounds with all imaginable tenderness, and carefully defend it from the leaft injurious touch. But if the whole be in danger, how do its nobler faculties of understanding, memory, and invention, awaken and beftir themselves to the uttermoft for its deliverance and safety.
Whilft the foul lives in union with the body, it is filled with affiduous (and too often with exorbitant and distracting) cares, for its neceffary support and comfort. And when it must be feparated from it by death, what ftrong averfations to death doth it ordinarily discover? The strong ties and bonds betwixt it and the body, cannot be loofed without much conflict and ftruggling, evidenced by these emphatical groans it fends forth : groans which other men understand not, nor can be supposed to understand, till they themselves come to feel the partingpull.
The reafon of all which lies in the intimate relation which is betwixt these different natures, which God hath married together in the womb, from which time they have been companions and partners in all the comforts and troubles of life. The body is the foul's house in which it dwells, and still shall dwell, till death diffolve it. It is the foul's garment, that clothes and covers it. It hath worn this garment of flesh from the beginning, and is to wear it ftill, till fickness hath brought it to rags, and death ftript it from the foul.
It is the tool and inftrument by which it doth all its works,
whilst it is in this ftate of compofition; and therefore the foul cannot but love it fervently. No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it.
§2. The cafe fo ftanding betwixt the foul and body, the wisdom or folly of the foul is plainly discovered in its way and manner of governing the body, as the love and prudence of an husband is in the government of his wife, or the master in ordering the affairs of his houfe; or the neat breeding of a man, in the comely wearing of his garments; or the skill and care of an artificer, in the brightness, keeness, and sharpness of his tools.
Some hufbands give evidence to the world of their governing prudence and ability, in such an allowance of liberty to their wives, as the laws of conjugal love require, and their eftates and incomes will conveniently bear, and no more; and in reftraining their extravagancies, as well as by encouraging their virtuous courses, in keeping back no due encouragement to virtue, nor giving the leaft encouragement unto vice.
A well-bred man, that carries with him a becoming sense of his quality, and the decorum he ought accordingly to observe, will wear his garments decently, and becoming his rank; they fhall be fure to be neat and clean, and fit fit and comely upon his body. He abhors to wear a garment tumbled in the mire, and go like a beaft, without regard to his reputation.
No prudent owner and governor of an houfe, will let the rain drop through the roof, nor choak up the paffage to his door with a nafty dunghill. His houfe within fhall be neat, and not nafty: the rooms clean and comely and yet abhors to fuffer fuperfluous ornaments, and coftly vanities, to fwallow up his eftate that should maintain it, and bring bailiffs (more odious than a dunghill) to his very doors.
The curious artificer, neither grinds away the fubftance of his inftruments to make them bright and glittering, and set an hedge too fine to hold one minute's ufe; nor yet fuffers them to be thrown afide in some neglected corner, where ruft and flaws fhall render them utterly ufelefs, or make him blush at the botches fuch inftruments will caufe in his work.
The prudent hufbandman will neither break the heart of his ground for want of reft and compoft, nor yet overload it with dreffings which brings forth nothing but rank and uselefs weeds; he will in a fit season turn in a stream of water to his meadows, like a cordial-draught to fainting spirits; but will not drown it, and rot the very roots of his grafs, by letting u too much, or by fuffering it to lie under water too long.