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Think that your Governors and Teachers may be wiser, and know better what is for the publick Good, and what is fit and decent, than you can possibly do. Give other Men leave to understand as well as you; and make not your selves the Standard of Wisdom, nor take upon you to bear down all Mankind, or to command in all Companies; nor expect that every one should yield to your Humours, and deny their own Inclinations, that they may gratify yours.
Do not pertinaciously pursue any thing wherein you are singular; examine all things, even those you may have long believed to be true, with diffidence of your felves, and sufpicion of your own Judgments : hear calmly, debate soberly and rationally, and allow other Men their turn to speak, and attend to what is faid against you with as eager a desire of learning, as you do what is discoursed on your own behalf.
Think how often formerly you have been deceived, and forced to retract your Error ; and that when you grow older, and get greater Experience, you
may chance also in many things to change your Mind. Be not apt to think meanly of, or severely censure, or superciliously disdain those that differ from you. Wo unto them, saith the Prophet, that are wife in their own Eyes, and prudent in their own Sight. There is nothing more odious and diftasteful to God or Men, than the imperious domineering and insulting Spirit and Temper of
the Self-conceited; not yet any greater Sport and Diversion to his Company than his grave Looks, his formal stiff Carriage, his starch'd set Discourse, his lofty Pretences, his cunning Conjectures his Utopian Projects, his sly and crafty Commendations of himself, his wise Remarks upon all Things and Persons : and thus the Fool, empty of all true Worth and full of himself, struts and fwells and admires himself, but is laugh'd at by every body else.
What, on the other side, is more graceful and amiable, more lovely and charming, than Humility and Modesty, a mean Estimation of our felves, and a Willingness to yield and condefcend to others? It renders us no less acceptable to Men than to God; it hạth a singular Obligingness and Agreeableness in it felf, tho we have
nothing else to give us advantage. To conclude all : When we had rather obey than rule, follow than lead; when we disdain not to learn of the meanest, despise no body besides our felves, do not think it reasonable to magnify our felves above other Men, but fet a just value upon those Abilities they are endued with, in Honour preferring others before our felves: When every one thus minds and concents himself with his own Business, and the Offices of his particular Calling, contains him. felf in that Rank God Almighty hath placed him in, studies to act his own Part well and to the Life, and is most busy in mending himself; then, and not till then, will the Times mend, and we may expect God's Blessing upon us,
But But when every common Soldier thinks he can order things better than his Captain, and leaves his own Station to direct his Officer; and every Captain neglects his own Company to teach and instruct the Cominander : what can follow but Mutiny and Disorder, if not utter Confufion? Be not wise in your own Conceit.
The FIFTH SERMON.
St. MATTHEW XV: 19: For out of the Heart proceed evil
Is it is God alone that knows the
Thoughts of Man, fo his Commands
alone directly reach to them, and no little Part of Religion consists in the due Government of them : whence it is commonly laid down as a Rule of interpreting any of God's Laws, that tho only the outward Action be expresly commanded or forbidden, yet it must be extended to the inward Thoughts, Affections and Dispositions of our Minds ; and he that appears very innocent and unblamable as to his words and Actions, may yet really in the sight of God, and a true account of Things, stand guilty of the greatest Wickedness by reason only of his impure, malicious, or otherwise evil Thoughts.
Thoughts indeed are free from the Dominion or Power of Men ; we may conceal or disguise them from all the World, we may deceive the most cunning and subtil, by fpeaking and acting contrary to our Minds, by pretending what we never mean, by promising what we never intend ; and if we betray not our selves, no Man can find us out, and we ought to judg one of another only by what is visible and notorious : but yet our Thoughts are absolutely subject to God's Authority, are under his Jurisdiction who is omniscient, who knoweth them afar off; who seeth not as Man seeth, nor judgeth as Man judgeth; for the righteous God trieth the Hearts and Reins, discerning the most hidden Workings and inward Motions of our Souls, is conscious to all the Wandrings of our Fancies and Imaginations, is acquainted with all our private Designs and Contrivances, and knoweth our secrer Ends and Intentions :: fo that in respect of the divine Laws and Judg. ment, our very Thoughts are as capable of being really good or really evil as our Actions.
Now Thoughts here I understand in the largeft Sense, as comprehending all the interna! Acts of the Mind of Man, viz. - not only fimple Conceits, Apprehensions, Fancies, bare pondering or musing of any thing in our Minds, but also all the Reasonings, Consulta:
tions, Purposes, Resolutions, Designs, Contrivances, Desires and Cares of our Minds, as opposed to our external Words and Actions. Whatever is transacted wholly within our selves, of which none are conscious but God and our own Souls, I understand here by Thoughts.
But then by evil Thoughts I do not mean the bare thinking of any thing that is evil, or the apprehending or considering what is sinful; for this of it self doth no more pollute or de file our Souls; than seeing a loathsom ugly Sight doth hurt the Eye.
The Prophet indeed tells us, that God is of purer Eyes than to behold Evil, and that he cannot look on Iniquity, that is, not with the least degree of Complacence or Approbation ; he cannot endure it, nor will he always bear it : but yer for all this, God seeth all the Sins that are committed in the World; for he beholdeth Mischief
and Spite, torequité it with hisHand, as David tells us, Pfal. 10. 14. and it is neceffary,when he forbids it,punishes it,or pardons it, that Sin must then be the Object of the Divine Understanding in all those Acts that are conyersant about it. The Eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the Evil and the Good.
Thus our blessed Saviour, tho he was free from all Sin, yet when he was tempted by the Devil, no doubt had in his Mind the Apprehension of that Evil he was instigated to by that wicked Spirit; it was all at that instant represented to his Thoughts : but since his Will did not in the least comply with or incline to