« PreviousContinue »
Preach'd before the Late
KI N G
The THIRD SERMON.
PROV. I. 10. - If Sinners entice thee, consent thou
N Scripture we often find that the Evil
to and fro in the Earth, and walking up and down in it, seeking whom they may devour, and to that end as furnish'd with all
manner of Wiles and Devices, by which they may ensuare and deceive Mankind. They would not be unhappy alone, and therefore bend all their study and cunning to involve Men in the same Ruin they have plung’d themfelves into.
Yet these are not our only Enemies, whom we are to watch against or resist: There are many in our own shape, who tho their feet are not cloven, yet drive on the same Design, and are the Devil's Agents, and use their Wit and Parts to set up his Kingdam in the World, by enticing Men to, and plaading for Sin and Irreligion. And this they do just for the same ill-natur'd reason ; namely, to make others as bad as themselves, that they may be also as miserable ; that this may a Jittle comfort them against the gnawing Fears of future Punishments, that if they should chance to befal them, as is threatned, yet they have made sure of Company enough.
And this may afford us one Confideration of no little force to secure us against the Sollicitations of Sinners, That tho they may pretend to great Love and Kindness, and vell us of the Excellency and Bravery of being wicked, and undertake to answer all the "Scruples and Coyness of our Consciences; yet
the bottom of all is only to engage us in the Perils and dangerous Adventures they have sun themselves into : They cannot endure to think, that if the great Doctrines of Religion ihould at last prove true, any should be likely to fare better in the other State than themselves; they hope cither by their Number to bear down God Almighty to pity and pardon, or at least that when they are so many, they Mall help one another more chearfully to tuffer the worse that can happen to them.
But now would we count it reasonable for a Man to persuade us to be fick with him? or because he hath undone himself and is lost and ruin'd, that we should therefore bring our felves into the fame Circumstances and Condition? In our temporal Affairs we are not thus easy and flexible, nor can Men in their Wits by any means be prevailed upon to hazard their lives and Fortunes for the gratify: ing the vain Humour of any desperate Person, who hath forfeited his own; and why then fhould we be fo foolishly soft as to part with all that can be called truly good, and venture our everlasting Concernments and immortal Souls, only to bear those company who are refolved to be damn'd? Wherefore of old in all places where Civility and good Manners have obtained, such as have taken up that vile trade of debauching others, and enticing them to fin, have been always branded with marks of Infamy, and accounted and dealt with as the very Pests and publiek Enemies of Mankind.
But I suppose there is not much need of convincing you that it is your Interest to follow this Advice of the Wile-man. Every one
will readily grant that it is good and wholesom Counsel, not to consent to the Enticings of evil and wicked Men; the only difficulty is in the practising of it, especially in a time when Sin is not only grown into Fashion, but into very great Reputation.
It would be well if the sad Complaints of the hideous Degeneracy and Profanenefs of this present Age were as unjust as they are frequent ; it is the humour of too many to admire and commend all the Persons that lived, and every thing that was done before they were born, whilst they please themselves in nothing more than in continually lamenting and bemoaning the Sins and Misfortunes of their own days. And whatever times such had lived in, 'tis like they would have pick'd out matter of Discontent, having no better way of shewing rheir own Wisdom or Goodness than by finding fault with others. But however, thus much is certain, that since the World is always so throngʻd and thickly beset with wicked Men, (and we have no reafon to doubt but that we at this time have our share of them amongst us) since the best of us all are so apt to be misled, surprized or betrayed into Sin; we have great need, if we would preserve our Innocence, to fortify our Minds with all such Considerations as may help us to understand the restless Allurements and subtle Enticings of those, who not only themselves do things that are evil
, bụt rejoice in making others do the fame.
I shall at this time discourse only of these two Ways, by which those that entice Men to vicious Practices ordinarily prevail with them, viz, either by their Example, or else by arguing for and excusing of Sin; and shall endeavour to make our how unreasonable it is to be moved by either of them.
I. Consent not when you are enticed to fin by bad Examples. He that is tempted only by his own wicked self, and drawn away with his own Lusts, doubts oftentimes and is afraid, and sometimes repents and forbears : but when his own inward Propensions and Inclinations are seconded and back'd with bad Examples, especially if they are numerous and given by Men of Authority, Interest and Name in the World; when by them he is encouraged and urged to that which of himself he had no little mind to; then doth Vice become strong and triumphant, the Temptation is then at the full height, and it is hard for a Man to stand it out. When thus there is a Confederacy and Combination of Sinners; when Wickedness joins as it were hand to hand, and draws it self into Leagues ; when the Road is smoothed, and the Passage made broad and plain by the Tramplings of others before us, then we are in great danger either of being hurried on in the Croud, or else of being by degrees inveigled to venture ourselves with those to whom we cannot but think we owe a great