Page images

hand in it, than he had in the Formation of his Body. It is no more his Will that he is Born with Evil Inclinations, than 'twas his Will he was made up of such and such parts, or that he came into the World, with an Appetite after Food, or with an Inclination to Sleep and Rest, and such other Natural Actions.

2. BESIDES this Natural Inclination and Aptitude unto Sin, there are foveral other things which come under the Notion of Evil, but yet cannot be called Wilful Aits, but meer Infirmities. 1. As Evil thoughts, especially in the first rising of them, and when they are not attenda ed with subsequent Actions, nor, entertain'd with Pleasure and Delight.. I call such thoughts Evil, because they are of themselves breaches of that Spiritual Law of God which reacheth the very Heart and Soul, and requires. Furity in the inward parts : But yet they are not to be accounted voluntary Transgressions, because they are not Acts of the Will, the Results of deliberation and choice, but the sudden breakings out of a Distempera Nature, things which our inward Corruptions do ever and anon cast out ; as Putrified Blood is apt upon fermentation to throw out Boy Is and Blisters, and the like. Indeed our Blessed Saviour, speaking of



those things which come forth from the
Heart, and Defile a Man, mentioneth par-
ticularly Evil Thoughts : Matth. 15.18, 19.
Those things which proceed out of the mouth,
and come forth from the Heart, they Defile
the Man; for out of the Heart proceed Evil
Thoughts, &c. But in this place is meant,
not those indeliberate and sudden startings
of the Mind, which I have now been
speaking of, but black Designs, studyed
Purposes, and Malicious Contrivances of the
Heart, especially against a Man's Life, as
our Learned Paraphraft hath very rightly Dr. Ham-
noted. These inward motions which we
feel within us, and which all Good People
complain of, as long as they are bare
thoughts and surprises of Soul, are not to be
reckon'd as Wilful Sins, nor are they in-
consistent with a State of Grace and Sal-
vation. They are many times the effects
of a Disorder'd Brain, and of a Body Di-
stemper's with the Spleen, Melancholy,
and the like ; so that they are often as
Natural Effects of some Disease, as hor and
cold fits are the effects of an Ague. They
rise in the Mind without ones Will, nay
against it ; and they are to Good Chrifti-
ans an Affliction and Trouble: As they are
afraid of them before hand, so they are
apt to be ruffled when they come, and to
be Discomposed and Tormented for them

mond in Loc, ,


when they are gone. This is a plain Argument, that in such Persons they are not Wilful Sins; and therefore they do not Defile them, so as to render them loathsom or impure in the Eye of God :. Howe ever they must be Repented of in fome measure, as I shall fhew in its proper place. 2. There are too divers Omissions, which the best of Men are Subject to be guilty of, through the common and inevitable course of Humane Affairs, and by Reason of the insufficiency of Humane Nature, though assisted with Divine Grace. Now God forbid we should think, that all such Omissions are Sins of Wilfulness; for many of them proceed from an hurry of Secular Matters, which makes even Good Men forgetful of some things, and unwilfully wanting in others; nor is it possible it should be otherwise. Many Omissions also proceed from mcer Inadvertency, in cases which have no room for deliberation: Nay though a Man be never so cautious and considerate, yet 'tis not in his power to. debate and consult with himself in every particular and minute contingency; the frail and narrow condition of Humanity will not allow it; nor is it imaginable, that any

Man can be so watchful at all times, as nor to Sleep at all, nor suffer any thing to escape him. The Spirit truly is


[ocr errors]

willing, but the Flesh is weak, as our Sa. viour told his D sciples when they slept instead of Ministring Comfort to him, and Praying for him in his great Agony, Matth. 26. And as long as we carry Flesh about with us, so long we shall be wanting in some part or other

of our Duty. The daily Sacrifice. may be some times neg: le&ted, at least in some measure, and our Devotion may be missing for a while in a croud of Business. Serene and Pleasant times are ape to draw out our thoughts from their close retirements, like Becs sporting in the Sun. The Necessities of the Saints are not always in qur thoughts, and so those thirsty Channels may remain without any Water from our Cistern. Many Blessed Opportunities, of doing our selves and others good, slide away from us insensibly; nay even in our Callings, to which cominonly we Sacrifice most of our time and care, we are not always so vigilant and industrious, but that we may deserve the Censure of some Negligence, though we may not deserve the charge of Dishonesty.

3. There is another fort of Infirmity, viz. a mixture of Imperfection in our very best Performances. Though the thing be done with an Honest and Good Heart, yet we come short as to the Degree, and fail more or less in the manner of doing it. Who can understand his Errors ? faith the Pfalmist, Pfal. 19.12. Such is our Condition, that like the image which Nebuchadnezzar law in his Dream, it is not all of a Temper, but consisteth of a medly, so that there is fomething in us of Gold, something of baser Metal, and something of Clay : By means whereof it cometh to pass, that our good Works are defective, and stand in need of a Pardon. We find by daily Experience, that what State foever we are in, what Graces foever we are to Exercise, what Duties soever we are to perform, many Infirmities still cleave to us like a Leprosie which we cannot totally cure. In our Prosperity we are apt to be lifted up in our Minds;and when a sweeping Affliction comes upon us, we are as ready to be discouraged and cast down. Our Faith is apt to be attended with some distrust, our Hopes with some Presumption, our Obedience with some abatements of Love, our Charity with a little touch of Pride, our Meditations with a great deal of Distraction; and even at our Devotion, when we take down the stringed Instruments from the wall, to chant out Praises and Prayers to our God, our Zeal suffereth some alloy by many wandring thoughts, nor do our Hearts keep'exact time with


[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »