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governed the church under him. But now the blindness of the understanding is greater and more scandalous: especially in such a seeing age as ours; in which the very knowledge of former times passes but for ignorance in a better dress; an age that flies at all learning, and enquires into every thing, but especially into faults and defects. Ignorance, indeed, so far as it may be resolved into natural inability, is, as to men, at least, inculpable, and consequently not the object of scorn, but pity; but in a governor, it cannot be without the conjunction of the highest impudence; for who bid such a one aspire to teach and to govern. A blind man sitting in the chimney corner is pardonable enough, but sitting at the helm he is intolerable. If men will be ignorant and illiterate, let them be so in private, and to themselves, and not set their defects in a high place, to make them visible and conspicuous. If owls will not be hooted at, let them keep close within the tree, and not perch upon the upper boughs. Solomon built his temple with the tallest cedars; and surely when God refused the defective and the maimed for sacrifice, we cannot think that he requires them for the priesthood. When learning, abilities, and what is excellent in the world forsake the church, we may easily foretell its ruin without the gift of prophesy. And when ignorance succeeds in the place of learning, weakness in the room of judgment, we may be sure heresy and confusion will quickly come in the room of religion.*
*Vol. i. 258.
VICE IN POWER.
EVERY rebuke of vice comes, or should come, from the preacher's mouth, like a dart or arrow thrown by some mighty hand, which does execution proportionably to the force or impulse it received from that which threw it; so our Saviour's matchless virtue, free from the least tincture of any thing immoral, armed every one of his reproofs with a piercing edge and an irresistible force. We may easily guess with what impatience the world would have heard an incestuous Herod discoursing of chastity, a Judas condemning covetousness, or a Pharisee preaching against hypocrisy.‡
THE EYE OF CONSCIENCE.
THAT the eye of conscience may be always quick and lively, let constant use be sure to keep it constantly open, and thereby ready and prepared to admit and let in those heavenly beams which are always streaming forth from God upon minds fitted to receive them. And to this purpose let a man fly from every thing which may leave either a foulness or a bias upon it; let him dread every gross act of sin; for one great stab may as certainly and speedily destroy life as forty lesser wounds. Let
him carry a jealous eye over every growing habit of sin; let him keep aloof from all commerce and fellowship with any vicious and base affection, especially from all sensuality; let him keep himself untouched with the hellish, unhallowed heats of lust and the noisome steams and exhalations of intemperance; let him bear himself above that sordid and low thing, that utter contradiction to all greatness of mind-covetousness: let him disenslave himself from the pelf of the world, from that amor sceleratus habendi;" lastly, let him learn so to look upon the honours, the pomp, and greatness of the world, as to look through them. Fools indeed are apt to be blown up by them and to sacrifice all for them: sometimes venturing their heads only to get a feather in their caps.*
THE wicked and sensual part of the world are only concerned to find scope and room enough to wallow in; if they can but have it, whence they have it troubles not their thoughts; saying grace is no part of their meal; they feed and grovel like swine under an oak, filling themselves with the mast, but never so much as looking up either to the boughs that bore, or the hands that shook it down.
* Vol. iii. 104.
+ See ante, p. 39.
WHY the prosperity of fools proves destructive to them, is, because prosperity has a peculiar force to abate men's virtues, and to heighten their corruptions. Prosperity and ease upon an unsanctified impure heart, is like the sun-beams upon a dunghill, it raises many filthy, noisome exhalations. The same soldiers, who in hard service, and in the battle are in perfect subjection to their leaders, in peace and luxury are apt to mutiny and rebel. That corrupt affection which has lain, as it were, dead and frozen in the midst of distracting businesses or under adversity, when the sun of pros
Bacon, in his Essay on Adversity, says,-The virtue of prosperity is temperance, the virtue of adversity is fortitude, which in morals is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God's favour. Yet even in the Old Testament, if you listen to David's harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comfort and hopes. We see in needle works and embroideries, it is more pleasing to have a lively work upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark and melancholy work upon a lightsome ground; judge, therefore, of the pleasure of the heart by the pleasure of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant when they are incensed, or crushed; for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.
perity has shined upon it, then like a snake it presently recovers its former strength and venom.*
THE GLORY OF THE CLERGY.
GOD is the fountain of honour, and the conduit by which he conveys it to the sons of men, are virtues and generous practices. Some indeed may please and promise themselves high matters from full revenues, stately palaces, court interests, and great dependances. But that which makes the clergy glorious, is to be knowing in their profession, unspotted in their lives, active and laborious in their charges, bold and resolute in opposing seducers, and daring to look vice in the face though never so potent and illustrious. And lastly, to be gentle, courteous, and compassionate to all. These are our robes, and our maces, our escutcheons and highest titles of honour.†
* Mud walls swell when the sun shines upon them.