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to engage God's blefling upon your trades and employments, as continence or conjugal chatiity are? That is to say plainly, Whether obedience and difobedience to the law of God, be all one, and please him alike? You know, your success in business is not in your own band; it is God that giveth thee power to get wealth : His blefing maketh rich. And is fin as likely a way to engage his blessing, as duty and obedience is? I am confident, your own reason will never
Object. If you fay, fich persons profper in the world as well as others, for ought you fee.
Sol. The contrary is evident in the common observation of man. kind: By reason of whoredom, multitudes are brought to a piece of bread. And though God suffer fome unclean perfons to profper in the world; yet chattity with poverty, is infinitely preferable to such accursed prosperity.
Quefl. 2. Whether the course of fin you are now driving and accustoming yourfelves to, will not, in all probability, fo infatuate and bewitch you, that when you come into a married estate, you shall still be under the power of this fin; and, fo ruin the person you marry, as well as yourself? If the word of God fignify any thing with you, it figoifieth this ; That there is a witchcraft in whoredom; and, compaTatively speaking, “ None that go to her return again, neither take shey hold of the paths of life;" Prov. ii. 18, 19.
Object. If to invalidate this teftimony, you fall say that he that spake this, did himself go after Įrange women.
Sol. It is true, he did so. But then withal, you must remember, that he hath warned you by his own fad experience, that you never follow him in those his footsteps: Eccles. vii. 26. “ I find (faith he) more bitier than death, the woman whose heart is (nares and nets, and her hands as bands. Whofo pleaseth God, fhall escape from her; but the finner shall be taken by her.”
Queft. 3. And, laftly, I demand of your reason, whether it can, or will, allow any place to this plea of necessity; before you have tried and used all Go:l's appointed remedies, which are sufficient to prevent that necessity you plead ?
There are lawful remedies enough, fufficient, with God's blessing, to keep you from such a necessity to fin; such as temperance, and more abitemiousness in meats and drinks ; avoiding lascivious books, play-houses, and filthy company; laborious diligence in your lawtul callings, and fervent prayer, for mortifying and preventing grace: And if temptations shall itir amidst all thefe preventives; then casting yourselves upon the directions and fupply of providence, in the how nourable estate of marriage. Never plead necessity, whilít all these preventives might, but have not been used.
7. Inducement 3. Others plead the absence of their lawful remedies, and presence of tempting objects. This is the case of our foldiers and feamen. But
though this be the most colourable pretence of all the rest, yet your own reason and conscience will, even in this case, so dilemma and nolie plus you, that if you will adventure upon the fin, you shall never have their leave and consent with you: For they have a special and peculiar confideration of you, as persons more eminently and immediately exposed to the dangers of death than other men And thus (would you but give them a fair hearing) they would expostulate and reason out the matter with you.
“ Either thou shalt escape, or not escape, the hazard of this voyage, or battle. If thou fall (as to be sure many will) will this be an honourable, safe, and comfortable close, and winding up of thy life? What, from a whore to thy grave! God forbid. From burning lufts, to everlasting burnings ! Better thou hadît never been born.”
Or if thou do escape, and return again to thy family; how canit thou look her in the face, with whom thou hast so bafely broken thy mar. riage-yow and covenant ? Whatever else thou bring home with thee, to be sure thou shalt bring home guilt with thee, a blot never to be wiped away.
Object. If you say, you are not such fools to publish your own shame ; you will follow Cajar's advice to the young adulterer, Si non caste, tamen cautè, If I act not chaftly, I will act cautiously.
Sol. Your reaton and conscience will both deride the weakness and folly of this pretence: For they both very well know, no man fins fa fecretly, but he fins before two infallible witnefles, viz. God, and his own conscience, and that the last, and least of these, is more than a thousand witnefles. That God usually detects it in this world, carry it as clofely as you will; but to be sure, it shall be published as upon the house-top, before men and angels in the great day.
§ 8. Inducement 4. Another inducement to this fin, and the last I shall mention), is the commonness of it, which abates the shame of it.
What need they trouble themselves so much, or be so shy of that which is practised by thousands, which is so frequently acted in every place, and little made of it?
But if either your reason or conscience will admit this plea for good and lawful, the devil hath utterly blinded or infatuated the one or other; as will evidently appear by the following reasons. For,
Reason 1. If the thing be evil, (as you cannot deny but it is) then, by how much the commoner, by so much the worse it must needs be. Indeed, if a thing be good, by how much the commoner, fa much the better : but to attribute this essential property of good unto evil, is to confound and destroy the difference between them, and make good and evil both alike.
Reajon 2. If the commonness of uncleanness will excufe you, it will more excuse all others that thall commit th fin after you : and still by how much more the numbers of adulterers and fornicators are increased, still the lefs fcruple men need make to commit; and
so the whole community shall in a little time be fo infected and defiled, that christian kingdoms thall quickly become like Sodom, and God provoked to deal with them, as he did by that wretched city.
Reason 3. If the commonness of the fin be an excuse and plea for it; fuppofe the roads should be more infested than they are with highwaymen, so that every month you should see whole cart-loads of them drawn to Tyburn ; would your reason infer from thence, that because hanging is grown so common, you need not scruple so much as you were wont to do, to take a purse, or pistol an honest innocent traveller
upon the road? Object. If you shall say, uncleanness is not so coftly a fin as robbery is ; there is a great deal of difference between Tyburn, and a whore-house puniffement.
Sol. There is a great difference indeed, even as much as is betwixt Tyburn and hell, or a small mulet in the courts of men, and the eternal wrath of a fin-revenging God : fo great will the difference betwixt the punilhments of all fins by God, and by men be found.
Thus you see, gentlemen, the common pleas for uncleanness overruled by your own reason and consciences.
We live in a plentiful land, abounding with all the comforts of this life, and with thousands of full-fed wantons; of whom the Lord complains this day, as he did of the Jews, whom that flowing land vomited out, Jer. v. 7. “ When I had fed them to the full, they committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots houses. They were as fed horses in the morning; every one neighed after his neighbour's wife.” How many such stallions are thus neighing in the fat pastures of this good land!
Nor do I wonder at all to see the growth of Atheism, in a land swarmed and over-run with so many thousands of blafphemers, drunkards, and adulterers. It was a grave observation of that gallant moralift, Plutarch : “ If Epicurus (faith he) Thould but grant a God in his full perfections, he must change his life presently, he must be a [wine no longer."
The Lord purge out this crying abomination also, with Atheism and drunkenness, the inlets of it, which darken our glory, and threaten to make us desolate.
C H A P. VÌ.
implacable enmity found in thousands this day, against all serious piety,
AN is naturally a fociable creature, delighting in com
pany and converse. He that affects to live by, and to
himself, must be (faith the philofopher) n Impsov, n feos ; either a God that is felf-fufficient, and stands in needs of none; or a wild beast, fo savage and fierce, that it can endure nothing but itself.
This natural quality of sociableness is diverfly improved. Some. times finfully, in wicked combinations to do mischief ; like the herding together of wolves and tygers ; such was the confederation of Simeon and Levi, brethren in iniquity; Gen. xlix. 56. Sometimes it is improved civilly, for the more orderly and profperous management of human affairs. Thus all civilized countries have improved it, for the common security and benefit. And sometimes religiously, for the better promoting of each other's spiritual and eternal good.
Now the more firmly any civil or religious focieties are knit together by love, and coalesce in unity, by so much the better they are lecured against their common enemies and dangers, and become still the more prosperous and flourishing within and among themfelves. For when every man finds his particular interest involved in the public safety and security, (as every private cabbin and paffenger is in the fafety of the ship), every particular person will then stand ready to contribute his uttermost affistance, for the public interest, both in peace and war. United force, we all know, is more than fingle ; and, in this sense, we say, Unus homo, nullus homo : one man, is no man, that is, considered disjunctively, and alone ; when yet that single person, standing in a proper place of service in the body, may, by his prudence and courage, fignify very much to the public weal of his country; as Fabius did to the Roman ftate, of whom the poet truly observed,
Unis homo nobis cunciando reftituit rem ; That one man, by his prudent delay and conduct, hath faved the whole commonwealth.
§ 2. It is therefore the undoubted interest of Christian ftates and churches, to make every individual person as useful as may be to the whole, and to enjoy the services of all their subjects and members, one way or other, according to their different capacities; that it may be said of them, (as the historian speaks of the land of Canaan) that there was in it, Nihil infructuofum, nihil fterile ; not a farub bat bare fome fruit.
No prudent kingdom, or church, will deprive themselves of the benefit they may enjoy by the services of any confiderable number of men, (especially if they be able and good men) without a plain, inevitable neceffity. No man, without such a neceffity, will part with the use and service of the least finger or toe, much lefs with a leg or arm : but would reckon himself half undone, if a paralytic disease
thould strike one half of the body, and render it utterly useless to defend and fuccour the other part in time of danger.
3. Much to stands the case with churches and kingdoms, when the caufeless and cruel enmity of one part prevails fo far against the other, as to deprive that ftate, or church, of the use and service of multitudes of good and faithful members.
It is folly, in its highest exaltation, for one part of a nation, out of bitter enmity to the other, not only to seek all ways and means to suppress and ruin it, whilst a common danger hangs over the whole ; but to rejoice in the miseries of their brethren, as the principal thing which they fancy would contribute to the great advantage of their cause. What but a general punishment, (if that will do it) can work men's hearts into a more general compaffion?
The histories of those tines sufficiently inform us, that the great feuds and factions in the western church, not only immediately preceded, but opened the way to the terrible inundations of the Goths and Vandals. Whilst the suffering part cries out, cruelty, cruelty ; those that inflict it, cry as loud, justice, justice. Whatever rational * apologies, or methods of peace, come from the oppreffed party, are censured by the other as murmur and mutiny. All men commend unity, and affert it to be the interest of kingdoms and churches. They wilh all men were of one mind; but what mind must that be? To be sure, none but their own.
The more cool, prudent, and moderate spirits of each party, may strive to the uttermott, to allay thefe unnatural feuds and animosities. The wisdom of the governing part; may take the instruments of cruelty out of their hand; but it is God alone that can pluck up the roots of enmity out of their hearts.
And what is the matter, when all is fifted and examined ? Why the matter is this : fome will be more serious, strict, and conscientious than others think fit or necessary for them to be. They dare not curse, swear, whore, and be drunk, as others do. They scruple to comply with what God hath not commanded, and the very imposers confess to be indifferent, antecedently to their command. They reverently mention the name of God, without an oath, and the folemn matters of religion, without a jest in their company. They will affume as much liberty to reprove fin, as others do to commit it. They take more pleasure in heavenly duties, and holy conferences, than in ranting and roaring in taverns and ale-houses. That is, in a word, they live up to the principles of religion, which all pretend to ; and this is their unpardonable crime, a fault never to be expiated by any less punishment than their destruction.
And are not people (think you) come to a fine pafs; when the Strictest obedience to the laws of God thall be accounted more criminal than the most open and profane violation of them ? Nay, though they reprove the other party's sin no other way, ut by their most serious and religious lives; yet this alone Ghall be sufficient to make them culpable and obnoxious.
§ 4. If the party thus generally hated and maligned, be (for the generality of them) serious and godly Chriftians; or if the strictness VOL. V!,