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SERM. modefty, and for that reason are equally forbidden CCXIV.
and condemned by the christian religion; and therefore it may fuffice to have named them. I shall only speak a few words concerning plays, which as they are now ordered among us, are a mighty reproach to the age and nation.
To speak against them in general, may be thought too severe, and that which the present age cannot fo well brook, and would not perhaps be so just and reasonable; because it is very poslible, they might be fo framed and governed by such rules, as not only to be innocently diverting, but instructing and useful, to put some vices and follies out of countenance, which cannot perhaps be so decently reproved, nor so effectually exposed and corrected
But as the stage now is, they are intolerable, and not fit to be permitted in a civilized, much less in a christian nation. They do most notoriously minifter both to infidelity and vice. By the profaneness of them, they are apt to instil bad principles into the minds of men, and to leffen the awe and reverence which all men ought to have for God and religion ; and by their tewdness they teach vice, and are apt to infect the minds of men, and dispose them to lewd and dissolute practices.
And therefore I do not see how any person pretending to sobriety and virtue, and especially to the pure and holy religion of our blessed Saviour, can without great guilt, and open contradiction to his holy profeflion, be present at such lewd and immodest plays, much less frequent them, as too many do, who yet would take it very ill to be shut out of the communion of Christians, as they would most certainly have been in the first and pureft ages of christianity. To conclude this whole discourse, let us always re
member, that gravity and modesty in all our beha-SERM.
CCXIV. viour and conversation, in all our words and actions, are duties indispensably required by the 'christian religion, and the great fences of piety and virtue ; and therefore ought with great conscience and care to be preserved and kept inviolable: and when these fences ars once broken down, there is a wide gap made for almost any sin and vice to enter in. Immodest words do naturally tend to corrupt good manners, both in ourselves and others.
There is none of us, but would reckon it very great infelicity to be deprived of that noble and useful faculty of speech, which is so peculiar to man, and which, next to our reason and understanding, doch most remarkably distinguish us from the brute beasts : but it is a much greater unhappiness to have this faculty, and to abufe it to vile and lewd purposes. The first may be only our misfortune : but this can never be without great fault, and gross neglect of ourselves, and much better had it been for us to have been born dumb, than thus to turn our glory into shame and guilt, by perverting this excellent gift of God, to the corrupting ourselves and others.
This I hope may be sufficient to restrain men from this vice, which I have all this while been speaking against ; at least to preserve those which are not yet infected, from the contagion of it; and I hope to reclaim many from so bad a practice. And if any be so hardened in their lewd course, that no counsel of this kind can make impression on them, what remains, but to conclude in the words of the angel to St. John, Revel. xxii. 11. " he that is filthy let him “ be filthy ftill: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”
SERMON Ν CCXV. The true remedy against the troubles
JOHN xiv. 1.
believe also in me. SERM.
N which words our blessed Saviour does, upon CCXV.
a particular occasion, prescribe an universal reThe first medy against trouble. And the particular occasion fennon on of this confolatory discourse, which our Saviour this text. here makes to his disciples, was this; he had often
told them of his sufferings ; but the conceit which they had entertained of his temporal reign, would not suffer them to admit any thought of such a thing, as the sufferings or death of the Messias ; and therefore it is said that these things did not sink into them, and that they understood them not; men being generally very slow to understand what they do not like, and have no mind to. At last our SAVIOUR tells them plainly, that how backward soever they were to believe it, the time of his sufferings and death was now approaching, and that he should shortly be “ betray“ ed into the hands of men,” and be “ crucified and “ lain.” At this his disciples were struck with great fear, and exceedingly troubled, but in contemplation of his sufferings, and of their own invaluable loss. To comfort them upon this occasion, our SA'viour directs his disciples to that course, which was not only proper in their present cafe, but is an uni
versal antidote and remedy against all trouble what-SER...
CCXV. foever, and will not only serve to mitigate our trouble, and support our spirits under the fear and apprehension of future evils, but under present amiftions and sufferings ; and to quiet and comfort our minds under the saddest condition, and forest calamitiis that can befal us: “Let not your heart be troubled : ye believe in Goo, believe also in me.”
He does not only forbid them to be troubled, and counsel them against it; such advice is easily given, but not so easily to be followed : but he pre cribes the proper remedy against trouble, which is, trust and confidence in God the great creator and wife governor of the world, and likewise in himself, the bleed Son of God, and SAVIOUR of mankind. "Ye be“lieve in God, believe alio in ine.”
The words are variously translated; by some in-' dicatively, " ye do believe in God, and ye do be“ lieve in me,” therefore “ be not troubled ;” by others imperatively,
“ believe in God, and believe “likewise in '
me;" and then you can have no cause of trouble. Or else the first clause may be rendred indicatively, and the latter iir peratively; and so our translation renders the words, “Ye do believe in God, “ believe also in me;" as “ you believe in God” the creator and governor of the world, fo “ believe “ also in me" the Son of God, and the SAVIOUR of the world. But which way foever the words be rendered, the sense comes all to one ; that faith in God, and in our blessed Saviour, are here prescribed as the proper and most powerful remedies against trou“Let not your heart be troubled :
believe "in God, believe also in me.”
In the handling of these words I shall do these two things. Vol. XI.
SERM. First, I shall consider what sort of trouble is here
forbidden, or with what reasonable limitations this
Secondly, I shall endeavour to Thew what virtue
First, we will consider what sort of trouble is here forbidden, and with what due and reasonable limitations we are to understand this general prohibition of our Saviour to his disciples, “ let not your hearts “ be troubled.” And this we shall best find out by considering the various objects of trouble, together with the several causes or grounds of them. And these may all be ranged under these three heads; evils past, present, or to come. For the ground of all trouble is fome evil, either really and in itself so, or what is apprehended by us under that notion : and the feveral kinds of trouble, are either the reflection upon evils past, or the sense of an evil that is present, or the fear and apprehension of some future evil which threatens us and hangs over us.
1. For the first, the trouble caused by reflection upon evils past, this must either be the evil of affliction or sin. The former of these, when it is past, is seldom any cause of trouble, the remembrance of past sufferings, and the evils which we get over, being father delightful than grievous ; so that it is only the evil of sin, the reflection whereof is troublesom. And this is that which we call guilt, which is an inward vexation, and discontent, and grief of mind, arising from the consciousness that we have done amiss, and a fearful apprehension of some vengeance and punishment that will follow it; and there is no trouble that