Imatges de pàgina
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"Our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us"--what to do? that we might live as we list, and hope to be saved by his merits? no :-but "that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak and exhort," saith St. Paul.-But, more plainly yet in St. Peter; "Christ bare our sins in his own body on the tree,"-to what end?" that we, being dead unto sin, should live unto righteousness"." Since therefore our living a holy life is the end of Christ's dying that sad and holy death for us, he that trusts on it to evil purposes, and to excuse his vicious life, does, as much as lies in him, make void the very purpose and design of Christ's passion, and dishonours the blood of the everlasting covenant; which covenant was confirmed by the blood of Christ; but, as it brought peace from God, so it requires a holy life from us*.

But why may not we be saved, as well as the thief upon the cross? even because our case is nothing alike. When Christ dies once more for us, we may look for such another instance; not till then. But this thief did but then come to Christ, he knew him not before; and his case was, as if a Turk, or heathen, should be converted to Christianity, and be baptized, and enter newly into the covenant upon his death-bed then God pardons all his sins. And so God does to Christians when they are baptized, or first give up their names to Christ by a voluntary confirmation of their baptismal vow: but when they have once entered into the covenant, they must perform what they promise, and do what they are obliged. The thief had made no contract with God in Jesus Christ, and therefore failed of none; only the defailances of the state of ignorance Christ paid for at the thief's admission: but we, that have made a covenant with God in baptism, and failed of it all our days, and then return at 'night, when we cannot work,' have nothing to plead for ourselves; because we have made all that to be useless to us, which God, with so much mercy and miraculous wisdom, gave us to secure our interest and hopes of heaven.

And therefore, let no Christian man, who hath covenanted with God to give him the service of his life, think that God

Titus, ii. 14.

u 1 Pet. ii. 24.

* See Life of Jesus, Disc. of Repentance, part 2.

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will be answered with the sighs and prayers of a dying man: for all that great obligation, which lies upon us, cannot be transacted in an instant, when we have loaded our soul with sin, and made them empty of virtue; we cannot so soon grow up to a perfect man in Christ Jesus' ovdiv tāv μeyáλων ἄφνω γίνεται. You cannot have an apple or a cherry, but you must stay its proper periods, and let it blossom and knot, and grow and ripen; " and in due season we shall reap, if we faint not," saith the Apostle : far much less may we expect that the fruits of repentance, and the issues and degrees of holiness, shall be gathered in a few days or hours. Γνώμης δ ̓ ἀνθρώπου καρπὸν θέλεις οὕτω δι ̓ ὀλίγου καὶ εὐκόλως KhoaσJαι. You must not expect such fruits in a little time, nor with little labour.

Suffer not therefore yourselves to be deceived by false principles and vain confidences: for no man can in a moment root out the long-contracted habits of vice, nor upon his death-bed make use of all that variety of preventing, accompanying, and persevering grace, which God gave to man in mercy, because man would need it all, because without it he could not be saved; nor, upon his death-bed, can he exercise the duty of mortification, nor cure his drunkenness then, nor his lust, by any act of Christian discipline, nor run with patience nor resist unto blood,' nor endure with long-sufferrance ;' but he can pray, and groan, and call to God, and resolve to live well when he is dying. But this is but just as the nobles of Xerxes, when in a storm they were to lighten the ship, to preserve their king's life; they did oOσKVVÉOVTAS ἐπιπηδᾷν εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, they "did their obeisance, and leaped into the sea:" so, I fear, do these men pray, and mourn, and worship, and so leap overboard into an ocean of eternal and intolerable calamity: from which God deliver us, and all faithful people.

Hunc volo laudari qui sine morte potest.
Vivere quòd propero pauper, nec inutilis annis,
Da veniam; properat vivere nemo satis.
Differat hoc, patrios optat qui vincere census,
Atriaque immodicis arctat imaginibus.

y Arrian. Epictet. l. 1. c. 15. z Martial. 1.9.6. a Ib. 2. 90. 3.

SERMON VII.

THE DECEITFULNESS OF THE HEART.

PART I.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it ?-Jeremiah, xvii. 9.

FOLLY and subtilty divide the greatest part of mankind; and there is no other difference but this; that some are crafty enough to deceive, others foolish enough to be cozened and abused and yet the scales also turn; for they that are the most crafty to cozen others, are the veriest fools, and most of all abused themselves. They rob their neighbour of his money, and lose their own innocency; they disturb his rest, and vex their own conscience; they throw him into prison, and themselves into hell; they make poverty to be their brother's portion, and damnation to be their own. Man entered into the world first alone; but as soon as he met with one companion, he met with three to cozen him: the serpent, and Eve, and himself, all joined,-first to make him a fool, and to deceive him, and then to make him miserable. But he first cozened himself, giving himself up to believe a lie;' and, being desirous to listen to the whispers of a tempting spirit, he sinned before he fell; that is, he had within him a false understanding, and a depraved will: and these were the parents of his disobedience, and this was the parent of his infelicity, and a great occasion of ours. And then was that he entered, for himself and his posterity, into the condition of an ignorant, credulous, easy, wilful, passionate, and impotent person; apt to be abused, and so loving to have it so, that if nobody else will abuse him, he will be sure to abuse himself; by ignorance and evil principles being open to an enemy, and by wilfulness and sensuality doing to himself the most unpardonable injuries in the whole world. So that the condition of man, in the rudeness and first lines of its visage, seems very miserable, deformed, and accursed.

For a man is helpless and vain; of a condition so exposed to calamity, that a raisin is able to kill him; any trooper out

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of the Egyptian army, a fly can do it, when it goes on God's errand; the most contemptible accident can destroy him, the smallest chance affright him, every future contingency, when but considered as possible, can amaze him; and he is encompassed with potent and malicious enemies, subtle and implacable: what shall this poor helpless thing do? Trust in God? him he hath offended, and he fears him as an enemy; and, God knows, if we look only on ourselves, and on our own demerits, we have too much reason so to do. Shall he rely upon princes? God help poor kings; they rely upon their subjects, they fight with their swords, levy force with their money, consult with their counsels, hear with their ears, and are strong only in their union, and many times they use all these things against them; but, however, they can do nothing without them while they live, and yet if ever they can die, they are not to be trusted to. Now kings and princes die so sadly and notoriously, that it was used for a proverb in holy Scripture," Ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes." Whom then shall we trust in? In our friend? Poor man! he may help thee in one thing, and need thee in ten: he may pull thee out of the ditch, and his foot may slip and fall into it himself: he gives thee counsel to choose a wife, and himself is to seek how prudently to choose his religion: he counsels thee to abstain from a duel, and yet slays his own soul with drinking: like a person void of all understanding, he is willing enough to preserve thy interest, and is very careless of his own; for he does highly despise to betray or to be false to thee, and in the mean time is not his own friend, and is false to God; and then his friendship may be useful to thee in some circumstances of fortune, but no security to thy condition. But what then? shall we rely upon our patron, like the Roman clients, who waited hourly upon their persons, and daily upon their baskets, and nightly upon their lusts, and married their friendships, and contracted also their hatred and quarrels? this is a confidence will deceive us. For they may lay us by, justly or unjustly; they may grow weary of doing benefits, or their fortunes may change; or they may be charitable in their gifts, and burdensome in their offices; able to feed you, but unable to counsel you; or your need may be longer than their kindnesses, or such in which they can give you no assistance: and, indeed, generally it is so, in all the

instances of men. We have a friend that is wise; but I need not his counsel, but his meat: or my patron is bountiful in his largesses; but I am troubled with a sad spirit; and money and presents do me no more ease than perfumes do to a broken arm. We seek life of a physician that dies, and go to him for health, who cannot cure his own breath or gout; and so become vain in our imaginations, abused in our hopes, restless in our passions, impatient in our calamity, unsupported in our need, exposed to enemies, wandering and wild, without counsel, and without remedy. At last, after the infatuating and deceiving all our confidences without, we have nothing left us but to return home, and dwell within ourselves for we have a sufficient stock of self-love, that we may be confident of our own affections, we may trust our selves surely; for what we want in skill we shall make up in diligence, and our industry shall supply the want of other circumstances and no man understands my own case so well as I do myself, and no man will judge so faithfully as I shall do for myself; for I am most concerned not to abuse myself; and if I do, I shall be the loser, and therefore may best rely upon myself. Alas! and God help us! we shall find it to be no such matter: for we neither love ourselves well, nor understand our own case; we are partial in our own questions, deceived in our sentences, careless of our interests, and the most false, perfidious creatures to ourselves in the whole world: even the "heart of a man," a man's own heart, " is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" and who can choose but know it?

And there is no greater argument of the deceitfulness of our hearts than this, that no man can know it all; it cozens us in the very number of its cozenage. But yet we can reduce it all to two heads. We say, concerning a false man, Trust him not, for he will deceive you; and we say concerning a weak and broken staff, Lean not upon it, for that will also deceive you. The man deceives because he is false, and the staff because it is weak; and the heart, because it is both. So that it is "deceitful above all things;" that is, failing and disabled to support us in many things, but in other things, where it can, it is false and "desperately wicked." The first sort of deceitfulness is its calamity, and the second is its iniquity; and that is the worse calamity of the two.

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VOL. I.

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