Page images
PDF
EPUB

fevere, and attended with fo much Cumber and Trouble, that we very much doubt we shall never be able to go through with them. And therefore to remove this Objection out of mens way, and to excite them to the Practice of thefe neceflary Duties, I fhall for a Conclufion of this Argument add, to what hath been faid of it, thefe following Confiderations.

1. That whatfoever Difficulty there is in the Practice of them, we may thank our felves for it.

2. That in the Courfe of our Sin there is a great deal of Difficulty, as well as in our Warfare againft it.

3. That how difficult foever this Warfare may be, it must be indured, or that which is a great deal Worfe.

4. That though it be difficult, yet there is nothing in it but what, the Grace of God will render poffible to us, if we be not wanting to our felves.

5. That the Practice of thefe Duties is not fo difficult, but that it is fairly consistent with all our other neceffary Occafions and Diverfions.

6. That the Difficulty is fuch as will certainly abate and wear off by Degrees, if we conftantly pra

Єtise them.

7. That with the difficulty of them there is a world of prefent Peace and Satisfaction intermingled.

8. That their Difficulty is abundantly compenfated by the final Reward of them.

1. Con

I. Confider that whatsoever Difficulty there is in the Practice of them, we may thank our felves for it. For if we had betaken our felves to the Practice of Religion as foon as we were capable of it, before we had entered our felves into finful Courfes, and had therein contracted finful Habits and Inclinations, we might have prevented thofe Difficulties which we now complain of. For our Religion was made for and adapted to our Nature, and would have fweetly accorded with all its Affections and Propenfions, had we not vitiated them by our own wilful Sin, and clapt a preternatural Biafs upon them. But though the Light be naturally congruous to the Eye, yet if through a Distillation of ill Humours into it the Eye grow fore and weak, there is nothing more grievous and offenfive to it. And fo it is with Religion, which to the pure and uncontaminated Nature of a Man, is the most grateful and agreeable thing in the World; but if by our own ill Government we difeafe our Nature, and deprave its Primitive Conftitution, it is no wonder that Religion which was fo well proportioned to it in its Purity, fhould fit hard and uneafie upon it, in its Apoftafie and Corruption. For to a man that is in a Feaver, every thing is bitter,even Honey, which when he is well, is exceeding Sweet and grateful; but the Bitterneß which he tastes is not in the Honey, but in the Gall which overflows his own Palate; and fo to a Nature that is difeafed with any unnatural Luft, that which is most congruous to it felf,will be most nauseous to its Difeafe, and those Duties which in its Health 'twould have imbraced with the greatest Pleafure, will in its Sickneß be

the

the greatest Burthen and Oppression to it. And when we have spoiled the Purity of our Conftitution, and are degenerated from the humane Nature into the brutal or diabolical, it is no great wonder that the Religion of a Man should be a Burthen to the Nature of a Beaft or a Devil. So that whatsoever Difficulties there are in Religion, they arife not out of the Nature of the things it requires, but out of the perverse Indifpofitions of our Natures to them; and these were for the most part contracted by our felves; fo that instead of complaining of the Difficulty, we ought to strive and contend the more earnestly against it, because we may thank our felves for it. When a man hath plaid the Fool, and fet his House on Fire, the Senfe of his own Folly ought to make him more industrious to extinguish it; but if instead of fo doing, he fhould fit with his Hands in his Bofom, and complain of the Mischief, and the Difficulty of ftopping it, what would Folks fay of him? Mifchievous Creature, doth it become thee to fit here idly complaining of the effect of thy own Villany, whilft 'tis yet in thy Power, wouldst thou but beftir thy felf, to quench the Flame, and prevent the spreading of it? For fhame get up and do thy utmost Endeavour to repair thy own Act, and to extinguish this spreading Mischief of which thou art the Author. Since therefore we have been fo obftinately foolish as to fet fire to our own Souls, and kindle in them by our vicious Courses fuch deftructive Flames of unnatural Luft, how monftroufly ridiculous is it, whilft 'tis yet in our Power to extinguish them, to fit whining and complaining of the Difficulty of it, and in the

mean

mean time permit them to rage and burn on without Interruption? O miferable men, if they are fo bard to be quenched, who may ye thank for it? Was it not you that kindled them, and do you fit idly complaining of your own Act, when you fhould be the more induftrious to repair the Mischief of it, because it is your own. For fhame arife and beftir your felves, and fince you are confcious that the Difficulties of your Religion are of your own creating, and that those Lufts which indifpofe ye to it are the products of your own Actions, let this excite ye to a more vigorous Endeavour to fubdue and conquer them.

II. Confider that in the Courfe of your Sins there is a great deal of Difficulty, as well as in your Warfare against them. For I dare appeal to your own Experience whether you have not found a great deal of Hardfhip in Wickedness, especially while you were educating and training up your Natures to it? Did not your Nature oftentimes recoil and start and boggle at your vicious Actions; and were you not fain fometimes to curb, and fometimes to pur it, to commit many Outrages and Violences upon it, whilft you were backing and managing it, before you could reduce it to a Through-pace in Iniquity; How often have you put your modeft Nature to the Blush, at the fenfe of a filthy and uncomely Action,whilft your wicked Will hath been dragging it along like a timorous Virgin to an Adulterers Bed; and what terrible Shrieks have your Confciences many times given in the midst of your finful Commiffions, when you were acting the first Rapes upon your Innocence? How many a penfive Mood hath the Review of

your

[ocr errors]

your finful Pleasures cost you, and what Swarms of Horror and dreadful Expectation hath the Reflection on your paft Guilts raised in your Minds? And then with what exceffive Difficulty have you been fain to practise fome Vices, only to get an Habit of practising them more eafily; How often have you been forced to Swallow Sickness, to drink dead Palfies and foaming Epilepfies, to render your Intemperances familiar to you, and in what Qualms, and fainting sweats, and fottif Confufions have you many times awaked, before ever you could Connaturalize your midnight Revels to your Temper? And when with fo much Labour and Violence, you have pretty well trained and exercifed your felves in this hellish Warfare, and thereby rendred it natural and habitual to you, to how many Inconveniences hath it daily expofed you, and what base and unmanly Shifts hath it put you upon, to extricate your felves out of those Difficulties wherein it hath involved you? What violent Paffions and Perturbations doth it raife in your Minds, and into what wild Tumults of Action doth it frequently hurry you? In a word, how doth it perplex and intrigue the whole Course of your Lives, and intangle ye in a Labyrinth of Knavish Tricks and Collufions; fo that many times you are at your Wits end, and know not which way to turn your felves? All these Diffculties, and a great many more, which I cannot prefently think of, you must have contended with in a finful Courfe of Action, if you have made any confiderable Experiment of it.

And do you complain of the Difficulty of perfevering in Religion; you that have fo couragionfly

perfevered

« PreviousContinue »