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tion of his hand by the division of his notes to be chosen and distinctly voluntary.
SCURRILITY, OR FOOLISH JESTING.
PLAISANCE, and joy, and a lively spirit, and pleasant conversation, and the innocent caresses of a charitable humanity, is not forbidden; plenum tamen suavitatis et gratiæ sermonem non esse indecorum, Saint Ambrose affirmed: and here in my text our conversation is commanded to be such, ἵνα δῳ χαριν, that it may minister grace, that is, favour, complacence, cheerfulness; and be acceptable and pleasant to the hearer and so must be our conversation; it must be as far from sullenness as it ought to be from lightness, and a cheerful spirit is the best convoy for religion; and, though sadness does in some cases become a Christian, as being an index of a pious mind, of compassion, and a wise proper resentment of things, yet it serves but one end, being useful in the only instance of repentance; and hath done its greatest works, not when it weeps and sighs, but when it hates and grows careful against sin. But cheerfulness and a festival spirit fills the soul full of harmony-it composes music for churches and hearts -it makes and publishes glorifications of Godit produces thankfulness and serves the end of charity; and, when the oil of gladness runs over, it makes bright and tall emissions of light and holy fires, reaching up to a cloud, and making joy round
about; and, therefore, since it is so innocent, and may be so pious and full of holy advantage, whatsoever can innocently minister to this holy joy does set forward the work of religion and charity. And, indeed, charity itself, which is the vertical top of all religion, is nothing else but a union of joys concentrated in the heart, and reflected from all the angles of our life and intercourse. It is a rejoicing in God, a gladness in our neighbour's good, a pleasure in doing good, a rejoicing with him; and without love we cannot have any joy at all. It is this that makes children to be a pleasure, and friendship to be so noble and divine a thing and upon this account it is certain that all that which innocently make a man cheerful does also make him charitable; for grief, and age, and sickness, and weariness, these are peevish and troublesome; but mirth and cheerfulness is content, and civil, and compliant, and communicative, and loves to do good, and swells up to felicity only upon the wings of charity. Upon this account here is pleasure enough for a christian at present; and, if a facete discourse, and an amicable friendly mirth can refresh the spirit, and take it off from the vile temptation of peevish, despairing, uncomplying melancholy, it must needs be innocent and commendable. And we may as well be refreshed by a clean and a brisk discourse, as by the air of Campanian wines; and our faces and our heads may as well be anointed and look pleasant with wit and friendly intercourse, as with the fat of the balsam-tree; and such a conversation no wise man
ever did or ought to reprove. But when the jest hath teeth and nails, biting or scratching our brother-when it is loose and wanton-when it is unseasonable-and, much or many, when it serves ill purposes, or spends better time, then it is the drunkenness of the soul, and makes the spirit fly away, seeking for a temple where the mirth and the music is solemn and religious.
THIS crime is a conjugation of evils, and is productive of infinite mischiefs: it undermines peace, and saps the foundation of friendship: it destroys families, and rends in pieces the very heart and vital parts of charity: it makes an evil man party, and witness, and judge, and executioner of the innocent.
He that persuades an ugly deformed man that he is handsome-a short man that he is tall-a bald man that he hath a good head of hair-makes him to become ridiculous and a fool, but does no other mischief. But he that persuades his friend, that is a goat in his manners, that he is a holy and a chaste person, or that his looseness is a sign of a quick spirit, or that it is not dangerous, but easily pardonable, a trick of youth, a habit that old age will lay aside, as a man pares his nails,—this man hath given great advantage to his friend's mis
chief: he hath made it grow in all the dimensions of the sin, till it grows intolerable, and perhaps unpardonable. And, let it be considered, what a fearful destruction and contradiction of friendship or service it is, so to love myself and my little interest, as to prefer it before the soul of him whom I ought to love.
OF COMFORTING THE DISCONSOLATE.
CERTAIN it is, that as nothing can better do it, so there is nothing greater, for which God made our tongues, next to reciting his praises, than to minister comfort to a weary soul. And what greater measure can we have, than that we should bring joy to our brother, who with his dreary eyes looks to heaven and round about, and cannot find so much rest as to lay his eyelids close togetherthan that thy tongue should be tuned with hea venly accents, and make the weary soul to listen for light and ease, and, when he perceives that there is such a thing in the world, and in the order of things, as comfort and joy, to begin to break out from the prison of his sorrows at the door of sighs and tears, and by little and little melt into showers and refreshment? This is glory to thy voice, and employment fit for the brightest angel. But so have I seen the sun kiss the frozen earth, which was bound up with the images of death, and the colder breath of the north; and then the waters break from their enclosures, and
melt with joy, and run in useful channels; and the flies do rise again from their little graves in walls, and dance awhile in the air, to tell that there is joy within, and that the great mother of creatures will open the stock of her new refreshment, become useful to mankind, and sing praises to her Redeemer. So is the heart of a sorrowful man under the discourses of a wise comforter; he breaks from the despairs of the grave, and the fetters and chains of sorrow; he blesses God, and he blesses thee, and he feels his life returning; for to be miserable is death, but nothing is life but to be comforted; and God is pleased with no music from below so much as in the thanksgiving songs of relieved widows, of supported orphans, of rejoicing and comforted, and thankful persons.
THE PROGRESS OF RELIGIOUS SENTIMENT.
THE canes of Egypt, when they newly arise from their bed of mud and slime of Nilus, start up into an equal and continual length, and are interrupted but with few knots, and are strong and beauteous with great distances and intervals; but when they are grown to their full length they lessen into the point of a pyramis, and multiply their knots and joints, interrupting the fineness and smoothness of its body. So are the steps and declensions of him that does not grow in grace: at first when he springs up from his impurity, by the waters of