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spired, are such as could come only from a is scarce probable; and therefore must bave heart and character thus described.
been owing to some delusion in his education, He goes up into the temple to pay his sacri- which had early implanted in his mind false fice of prayer; in the discharge of which he and wretched notions of the essentials of repleads no merit of his own,-enters into no ligion, which, as he grew up, had proved the comparison with others, or justification of seeds of infinite error, both in practice and himself with God; but, in reverence to that speculation. holier part of the temple where his presence With the rest of his sect, he had been so prinwas supposed more immediately to be displayed, cipled and instructed as to observe a scrupulous he keeps afar off, is afraid to lift up his eyes nicety and most religious exactness in the lesser towards heaven; but smites upon his breast, matters of his religion,-its frequent washings, and in a short but fervent ejaculation, sub- its fastings, and other external rites, of no merit missively begs God to have mercy upon his in themselves,—but to stand exempted from the sins. O God! how precious, how amiable, is more troublesome exactness in the weightier true humility! What a difference in thy sight matters of the law, which were of eternal and does it make to consist betwixt man and man! unchangeable obligation. So that they were, in Pride was not made for a creature with such truth, blind guides, who thus will strain at a manifold imperfections : religious pride is a gnat, and yet swallow a camel; and, as our dress which still worse becomes him ; because Saviour reproves them from a familiar instance of all others 'tis that to which he has the least of domestic inconsistency, would make clean pretence : the best of us fall seven times a day, the outside of the cup and platter, yet suffer and thereby add some degree of unprofitable the inside, the most material part, to be full of ness to the character of those who do all that is corruption and excess. From this knowledge of commanded them. Was I perfect, therefore, the character and principles of the Pharisee, 'tis says Job, I would not know my soul, I would be easy to account for his sentiments and behaviour silent, I would be ignorant of my own righteous- in the temple, which were just such as they ness ; for, should I say I was perfect, it would would have led one to have expected. prove me to be perverse. From this introduc- Thus it has always happened, by a fatality tion, I will take occasion to recommend this common to all such abuses of religion as make virtue of religious humility, which so naturally it to consist in external rites and ceremonies, falls from the subject, and cannot more effec- more than inward purity and integrity of heart. tually be enforced than by an inquiry into the As these outward things are easily put in pracchief causes which produce the opposite vice to tice, and capable of being attained without much it-that of spiritual pride ; for in this malady capacity, or much opposition to flesh and blood, of the mind of man, the case is parallel with it too naturally betrays the professors of it into most others of his body, the dangers of which a groundless persuasion of their own godliness, can never rightly be apprehended ; nor can and a despicable one of that of others, in their remedies be applied either with judgment or religious capacities, and the relations in which success, till they are traced back to their first they stand towards God; which is the very deprinciples, and the seeds of the disorder are laid finition of spiritual pride. open and considered.
When the true heat and spirit of devotion is And first, I believe, one of the most general thus los and extinguished, under a cloud of causes of spiritual pride is that which seems to ostentatious ceremonies and gestures, as is rehave misled the Pharisee,-a mistaken notion markable in the Roman Church,—where the of the true principles of his religion. He celebration of high mass, when set off to the thought, no doubt, that the whole of it was best advantage with all its scenical decorations comprehended in the two articles of paying and finery, looks more like a theatrical pertithes and frequent fasting; and that when he formance than that humble and solemn appeal had discharged his conscience of them, he had which dust and ashes are offering up to the done all that was required at his hands, and throne of God ;-when religion, I say, is thus might with reason go and thank God that he clogged and borne down by such a weight of had not made him like others. It is not to be ceremonies, it is much easier to put in pretenquestioned but, through force of this error, the sions to holiness upon such a mechanical system Pharisee might think himself to be, what he as is left of it than where the character is only pretended, a religious and upright man. For, to be got and maintained by a painful conflict however he might be brought to act a double and perpetual war against the passions. 'Tis and insincere part in the eyes of men upon easier, for instance, for a zealous Papist to cross worldly views, it is not to be supposed that, himself, and tell his beads, than for a humble when he stood by himself, apart in the temple, Protestant to subdue the lusts of anger, intemand no witnesses of what passed between him perance, cruelty, and revenge, to appear before and his God, that he should knowingly and wil- his Maker with that preparation of mind which fully have dared to act so open and barefaced a becomes him. The operation of being sprinkled scene of mockery in the face of Heaven. This with holy water is not so difficult in itself as
that of being chaste and spotless within, us wiser and better men, better neighbours, scious of no dirty thought or dishonest action. better citizens, and better servants to God. 'Tis a much shorter way to kneel down at To whom, etc. confessional, and receive absolution, than to live so as to deserve it,-not at the hands of men, but at the hands of God, who sces the
VII.-VINDICATION OF HUMAN heart, and cannot be imposed upon. The
NATURE. achievement of keeping Lent, or abstaining
For none of us liveth to himself.:-DOJANS XIF. 7. from flesh on certain days, is not so hard as that of abstaining from the works of it at all There is not a sentence in Scripture which times; especially as the point is generally man- strikes a narrow soul with greater astonishaged among the richer sort with such art and ment; and one might as easily engage to clear epicurism at their tables, and with such indul- up the darkest problem in geometry to an ignogence to a poor mortified appetite, that an rant mind, as make a sordid one comprehend entertainment upon a fast is much more likely the truth and reasonableness of this plain proto produce a surfeit than a fit of sorrow.
position,--No man liveth to himself! Why? One might run the parallel much further, but | Does any man live to anything else? In the this may be sufficient to show how dangerous whole compass of human life, can a prudent and delusive these mistakes are; how apt to man steer to a safer point? Not live to him. mislead and overset weak minds, which are ever self! To whom, then? Can any interests or apt to be caught by the pomp of such external concerns which are foreign to a man's self have parts of religion. This is so evident, that even such a claim over him that he must serve under in our own church, where there is the greatest them-suspend his own pursuits-step out of chastity in things of this nature, and of which his right course till others have passed by him none are retained in our worship but what, I and attained the several ends and purposes of believe, tend to excite and assist it, yet, so living before him? strong a propensity is there in our nature to If, with a selfish heart, such an inquirer sense, and so unequal a match is the under should happen to have a speculating head too, standing of the bulk of mankind for the impres- he will proceed, and ask you, Whether this sions of outward things, that wo see thousands same principle which the apostle here throws who every day mistake the shadow for the out, of the life of man, is not in fact the grand substance, and, was it fairly put to the trinl, bias of his nature? That however we may would exchange the reality for the appear- flatter ourselves with fine-spun notions of disance.
interestedness and heroism in what we do, You see this was almost universally the case were the most popular of our actions stripped of the Jewish church ; where, for want of pro-naked, and the true motives and intentions of per guard and distinction betwixt the means of them searched to the bottom, we should find religion and religion itself, the ceremonial part little reason for triumph upon that score. in time ate away the moral part, and left In a word, he will say that a man is altogether nothing but a shadow behind. 'Tis to be feared a bubble to himself in this matter, and that, the buffooneries of the Romish Church bid fair after all that can be said in his behalf, the to do it the same ill office, to the disgrace and truest definition that can be given of him is utter ruin of Christianity, wherever Popery is this, that he is a selfish animal; and that all established. What then remains, but that we his actions have so strong a tincture of that rectify these gross and pernicious notions of character as to show, to whomever else he was religion, and place it upon its true bottom, intended to iive, that in fact he lives only to which we can only do by bringing back religion himself. to that cool point of reason which first showed Before I reply directly to this accusation, I us its obligation --by always remembering that cannot help observing, by the way, that there God is a Spirit, and must be worshipped suit is scarce anything which has done more disably to his nature, i.e. in spirit and in truth; | service to social virtue than the frequent repreand that the most acceptable sacrifice we can sentations of human nature under this hideous offer him is a virtuous and an upright mind; picture of deformity, which, by leaving out all and however necessary it is not to leave the that is generous and friendly in the heart of ceremonial and positive parts of religion un- man, has sunk him below the level of a brute, done, yet not, like the Pharisee, to rest there, as if he was a composition of all that was meanand omit the weightier matters, but keep this in spirited and selfish. Surely 'tis one step toview perpetually, that though the instrumental wards acting well to think worthily of our duties of religion are duties of unquestionable nature; and as in common life the way to obligation to us, yet they are still but instru- make a man honest is to suppose him so, and mental duties, conducive to the great end of treat him as such, so here, to set some value all religion, which is to purify our hearts and upon ourselves enables us to support the characconquer our passions, and, in a word, to make ter, and even inspires and adds sentiments of generosity and virtue to those which we have light we view him, we shall see evitlently that already preconceived. The Scripture tells that there is no station or condition of his life, no God made man in his own image-not surely office, or relation, or circumstance, but there in the sensitive and corporeal part of him—that arise from it so many ties, so many indispenscould bear no resemblance with a pure and able claims upon him, as must perpetually infinite Spirit; but what resemblance he bore carry him beyond any selfish consideration, and
was undoubtedly in the moral rectitude, and show plainly that was a man foolishly wicked ! the kind and benevolent affections of his nature. enough to design to live to himself alone, he
And though the brightness of his image has would either find it impracticable, or he would been sullied greatly by the fall of man in our lose, at least, the very thing which made life first parents, and the characters of it rendered itself desirable. We know that our Creator, still less legible by the many superinductions of like an all-wise contriver, in this, as in all other his own depraved appetites since; yet 'tis a of his works, has implanted in mankind such laudable pride and a true greatness of mind to appetites and inclinations as were suitable for cherish a belief that there is so much of that their state ; that is, such as would naturally glorious image still left upon it as shall restrain lead him to the love of society and friendship, him from base and disgraceful actions ; to without which he would have been found in a answer which end, what thought can be more worse condition than the very beasts of the field. conducive than that of our being made in the No one, therefore, who lives in society can be likeness of the greatest and best of beings ? said to live to himself ; he lives to his God, This is a plain consequence. And the consi- to his king, and his country; he lives to his deration of it should have in some measure been family, to his friends, to all under his trust;
a protection to human nature from the rough and, in a word, he lives to the whole race of | usage she has met with from the satirical pens mankind. Whatsoever has the character of of so many of the French writers, as well as of man, and wears the same image of God that lie our own country, who, with more wit than well does, is truly his brother, and has a just claim meaning, have desperately fallen foul upon the to his kind. That this is the case in fact as whole species, as a set of creatures incapable well as in theory, may be made plain to any one either of private friendship or public spirit, but who has made any observations upon human just as the case suited their own interest and life. When we have traced it through all its advantage.
connections, viewed it under the several obligaThat there is selfishness and meanness enough tions which succeed each other in a perpetual in the souls of one part of the world to hurt rotation through the different stages of a hasty the credit of the other part of it, is what I pilgrimage, we shall find that these do operate shall not dispute against ; but to judge of the so strongly upon it, and lay us justly under so whole from this bad sample, and, because one many restraints, that we are every hour sacriman is plotting and artful in his nature-or a ficing something to society, in return for the second openly makes his pleasure or his profit benefits we receive from it. the whole centre of all his designs — or be- To illustrate this, let us take a short survey cause a third strait-hearted wretch sits confined of the life of any one man, not liable to great within himself, feels no misfortunes but those exceptions, but such a life as is common to which touch himself,--to involve the whole most; let us examine it merely to this point, race without mercy under such detested charac- and try how far it will answer such a representers, is a conclusion as false as it is pernicious; tation. and, was it in general to gain credit, could serve If we begin with him in that carly age wherein no end but the rooting out of our nature all that the strongest marks of undisguised tenderness is generous, and planting in the stead of it and disinterested compassion show themselves, such an aversion to each other as must untie I might previously observe, with what impresthe bands of society, and rob us of one of the sions he is come out of the hands of God, with greatest pleasures of it, the mutual communica- the very bias upon his nature which prepares tions of kind offices ; and, by poisoning the him for the character which he was designed to fountain, render everything suspected that flows fulfil. But let us pass by the years which through it.
denote childhood, as no lawful evidence, you'll To the honour of human nature, the Scripture say, in this dispute ; lct us follow him to the teaches us that God made man upright; and period when he is just got loose from tutors and though he has since found out many inventions, governors, when his actions may be argued upon which have much dishonoured this noble struc- with less exception : if you observe, you will ture, yet the foundation of it stands as it was, find that one of the first and leading propen--the whole frame and design of it carried on sities of his nature is that which discovers itself upon social virtue and public spirit, and every in the desire of society, and the spontaneous member of us so evidently supported by this love towards those of his kind; and though strong cement, that we may say with the Apostle, the natural wants and exigencies of his condithat no man liveth to himself. In whatsoever tion are, no doubt, one reason of this amiable
impulse, God having founded that in him as a nay, the very comforts of your lives, for the provisional security to make him social, yet, sake of your children! How many indulgences though it is a reason in nature, 'tis a reason to have ye given up! What self-denials and diffihim yet undiscovered. Youth is not apt to culties have ye cheerfully undergone for them! philosophize so deeply, but follows as it feels In their sickness, or reports of their misconitself prompted by the inward workings of duct, how have ye gone on your way sorrowing ! benevolence, without view to itself, or pre- What alarms within you, when fancy forebodes vious calculation either of the loss or profit but imaginary misfortunes hanging over them! which may accrue. Agreeably to this, observe But when real ones have overtaken them, and how warmly, how heartily he enters into friend- mischief befallen them in the way in which they ships ! how disinterested and unsuspicious in have gone, how sharper than a sword have ye the choice of them ! how generous and open felt the workings of parental kindness! In in his professions ! how sincere and honest in whatever period of human life we look for making them good! When his friend is in dis-proofs of selfishness, let us not seek them in tress, what lengths he will go ! what hazards this relation of a parent, whose whole life, when he will bring upon himself ! what embarrass- truly known, is often little else but a succession ment upon his affairs, to extricate and serve of cares, heart-aches, and disquieting apprehenhim! If man is altogether a selfish creature, sions, enough to show that he is but an instruas these moralizers would make him, 'tis certainment in the hands of God to provide for the he does not arrive at the full maturity of it in well-being of others, to serve their interests as this time of his life. No. If he deserves any well as his own. accusation, 'tis in the other extreme, That in If you try the truth of this reasoning upon: his youth he is generally more fool than knave ;' every other part or situation of the same life, and so far from being suspected of living to you will find it holds good in one degree or himself, that he lives rather to everybody else ; other. Take a view of it out of these closer the unconsciousness of art and design in his own connections, both of a friend and parent; conintentions rendering him so utterly void of a sider him for a moment under that natural allisuspicion of it in others as to leave him too oft ance in which even a heathen poet has placed a bubble to every one who will take the advan him, namely, that of a man,--and as such, to tage. But, you'll say, he soon abates of these this honour, as one incapable of standing uncontransports of disinterested love ; and as he cerned in whatever concerns his fellow-creatures. grows older, grows wiser, and learns to live Compassion has so great a share in our nature, more to himself,
and the miseries of this world are so constant. Let us examine.
an exercise of it, as to leave it in no one's power, That a longer knowledge of the world, and who deserves the name of man in this respect, some experience of insincerity, will teach him to live to himself. a lesson of more caution in the choice of friend- He cannot stop his ears against the cries of ships, and less forwardness in the undistinguished the unfortunate. The sad story of the fatheroffers of his services, is what I grant. But if lie less, and him that has no helper, must be heard. cool of these, does he not grow warmer. still in • The sorrowful sighing of the prisoner will connections of a different kind ? Follow him, I come before him ;' and a thousand other untold. pray you, into the next stage of life, where he cases of distress to which the life of man is subhas entered into engagements, and appears as ject find a way to his heart, let interest guard the father of a family, and you will see the the passage as it will. 'If he has this world's. passion still remains, the stream somewhat goods, and seeth his brother have need, he will more confined, but it runs the stronger for it: not be able to shut up his bowels of compassion the same benevolence of heart, altered only in from him.' its course, and the difference of objects towards Let any man of common humanity look back which it tends. Take a short view of him in upon his own life as subjected to these strong this light, as acting under the many tender claims, and recollect the influence they have claims which that relation lays upon him, had upon him. How oft the mere impulses of spending many weary days and sleepless nights, generosity and compassion have led him out of utterly forgetful of himself, intent only upon his way! In how many acts of charity and his family, and with an anxious heart contriving kindness his fellow-feeling for others has made and labouring to preserve it from distress, against him forget himself ! In neighbourly offices, that hour when he shall be taken from its pro- how oft he has acted against all considerations. tection. Does such a one live to himself? He of profits, convenience, nay, sometimes even of who rises early, late takes rest, and eats the justice itself! Let him add to this account how bread of carefulness, to save others the sorrow much, in the progress of his life, has been given of doing so after him. Does such an one live up even to the lesser obligations of civility and orly to himself? Ye who are parents, answer good manners! What restraints they have laid this question for him. How oft have ye sacri- him under! How large a portion of his time, ficed your health--your ease-your pleasures, how much of his inclination, and the plan of life he should most have wished, has from time instances there are in the world of men thus to time been made a sacrifice to his good-nature, governed, will not concern us so much to inquire, and disinclination to give pain or disgust to as to take care that we are of the number; others!
which may God grant, for the sake of Jesus Whoever takes vicw of the life of man, in Christ. Amen. this glass wherein I have shown it, will find it so beset and hemmed in with obligations of one kind or other, as to leave little room to suspect
VIII.-TIME AND CHANCE. that man can live to himself; and so closely has our Creator linked us together, as well as
'I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is all other parts of his works, for the preserva
not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither
yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of undertion of that harmony in the frame and system
s'anding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time of things which his wisdom has at first estab
and chance happened to them all.'—ECCLES. IX. 11. lished, that we find this bond of mutual dependence, however relaxed, is too strong to be WHEN a man casts a look upon this melancholy broke ; and I believe that the most selfish men description of the world, and sees, contrary to find it is so, and that they cannot in fact live all his guesses and expectations, what different so much to them as the narrowness of their fates attend the lives of men,-how oft it hapown heart inclines them. If these reflections pens in the world that there is not even bread are just, upon the moral relations in which to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, we stand to each other, let us close the exami- etc.,-he is apt to conclude, with a sigh upon nation with a short reflection upon the great it, in the words, though not in the sense, of relation in which we stand to God.
the wise man, that time and chance happen to The first and more natural thought on this them all; that time and chance, apt seasons subject, which at one time or other will thrust and fit conjunctures, have the greatest sway in itself upon every man's mind, is this, that the turns and disposals of men's fortunes, -and there is a God who made me, to whose gift Ithat as these lucky hits (as they are called) owe all the powers and faculties of my soul, to happen to be for or against a man, they either whose providence I owe all the blessings of my open the way to his advancement against all life, and by whose permission it is that I exer- obstacles, or block it up against all helps and cise and enjoy them; that I am placed in this attempts; that, as the text intimates, neither world as a creature of but a day, hastening to wisdom, nor understanding, nor skill, shall be the place whence I shall not return; that I am able to surmount them. accountable for my conduct and behaviour to However widely we may differ in our reasonthis great and wisest of beings, before whose ings upon this observation of Solomon's, the judgment-seat I must finally appear and receive authority of the observation is strong beyond the things done in my body, whether they are doubt, and the evidence given of it in all ages so good or whether they are bad.
alternately confirmed by examples and comCan any one doubt but the most inconsiderate plaints, as to leave the fact itself unquestionable. of men sometimes sit down coolly, and make That things are carried on in this world somesome such plain reflections as these upon their times so contrary to all our reasoning, and the state and condition? or that, after they have seeming probabilities of success,—that even the made them, can one imagine they lose all effect? race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the Little appearance as there is of religion in the strong !-- nay, what is stranger still, nor yet world, there is a great deal of its influence felt bread to the wise, who shall last stand in want in its affairs; nor can one so root out the prin- of it; nor yet riches to men of understanding, ciples of it, but, like nature, they will return who you would think best qualified to acquire again, and give checks and interruptions to them; nor yet favour to men of skill, whose guilty pursuits. There are seasons when the merit and pretences bid the fairest for it; but thoughts of a just God overlooking, and the that there are some secret and unseen workings terror of an after-reckoning, have made the most in human affairs which baffle all our endeavours, determined tremble and stop short in the exe- and turn aside the course of things in such a cution of a wicked purpose ; and if we conceive manner that the most likely causes disappoint that the worst of men lay some restraint upon and fail of producing for us the effect which we themselves from the weight of this principle, wished and naturally expected from them. what shall we think of the good and virtuous You will see a man who, were you to form a part of the world, who live under the perpetual conjecture from the appearance of things in his influence of it, who sacrifice their appetites favour, you would say was setting out in the and passions from a consciousness of their duty world with the fairest prospect of making his to God, and consider him as the object to whom fortune in it-with all the advantages of birth they have dedicated their service, and make to recommend him, of personal merit to speak that the first principle and ultimate end of all for him, and of friends to help and push him their actions ? How many real and unaffected forwards; you will behold him, notwithstanding