« PreviousContinue »
ensign of their animosity : therefore till vice be suppressed, and education be better provided for, and presumption and violence extinguished, that so virtue, humility, and charity may prevail among us, this treatise will be serviceable : however, we are not to measure our duty by success : but if it shall please Almighty God to favour the honest purpose of the author with his blessing, that it may have those desirable effects where it comes, the author will exceedingly rejoice, and God shall have the glory of this, as of all other the services of his people; who is worthy for ever!
THE AUTHOR'S PREMONITION.
READER, Great books seldom find readers; and it may be the times may render this such; for the motion of affairs is 'so swift, that action treads hard upon the heelş of writing, and there is little time left to read , besides, people had rather converse with the living than the dead; and such all books are to men in business. This reflection at first daunted me, the tract being grown thus under my hand: but believing what I have writ to be both true and useful to our yet so much needed civil and ecclesiastical reformation, and taking encouragement by the kind reception of some former essays and addresses I made, I resolved to let it go ; but with this care, that by prefixing contents, thou mayest readily turn to that part which may more immediately concern thee, or best suit and answer thy inquiry.
§. 4. Of the evil of luxury,and excess in apparel, in living,
§. 8. An address to the magistrates for redress of those
the government: examples of kingdoms, nations and people
§. 9. The second motive to this address, viz. the benefit of
§. 10. The third and last motive to this address, viz. the
ture of the gospel faith, and mistakes about it.
$. 4. Of the third evil, viz. A debasing of the true value
My friends and countrymen, If you believe that there is a God, and that he is holy, just and good; that he made us; that we owe ourselves to him, and that he is not careless of us, but the constant observer of our thoughts and actions; and that as he is the rewarder of them that fear, love, and obey him, so he is the severe punisher of all such as transgress his law, and break his righteous commandments; if, I say, you believe these things, and not only that there is a final day of reckoning, but that God, even in this world, recompenses his judgments upon the wicked, and visits nations with his hot displeasure because of their impiety;, which hath been the sensible experience and free confession of all ages; then it belongs to us of these kingdoms to reflect upon ourselves, and take a true view of our
actions ; since divine vengeance, for aught we see, is still at the door. And, for the Lord's sake, let us have a care in the doing of it, since “God will not be mocked;"* and that our miscarriage in such an inquiry will be, as only our own infelicity, so of infinite moment to us. I must needs be plain and earnest here ; for if we miscarry in the search, we shall certainly miscarry in the cure. Sin gives the deadliest of all wounds to mankind; but, with grief I say it, for it is true, there is no wound so slightly healed. We rather seek our ease, than our security, like those fools, that love the pleasantest, not the safest potions. It is ill at all times to flatter a man's self; but it is most dangerous about repentance. . Something men would keep, something men would hide; and yet they have to do with that “searcher of bearts,”+ from whom it is impossible they should hide any thing. This folly increases our account, endangers our * Gal. vi.5,6,7.
+ Jer. xvii. 10.
cure, and makes our condition desperate, if not irrecovere able.
O England, my native country! Come to judgment ! Bring thy deeds to the true light; see whether they are “ wrought in God or no."* Put not off thyself with hay, straw and stubble ; for they will burn, and the fire is at the door, that will consume them. He is coming, whose reward is with him, and will give every one according to his works." Let us therefore examine ourselves, try ourselves, prove our ownselves, whether Christ be in us or not;f if his spirit, his nature, his meekness, his patience, his great self-denial, dwell in us: if not, we are reprobates; yet under the reproofs of the Almighty, the charge and guilt of sin; and his witness in our own consciences sends up evidence to heaven against us every day : this I justly fear and take to be our case. Let us therefore strictly look into our conversations, and with an impartial eye take a just view of those sins, that most severely cry to the great judge against us. And they appear
to me to be of two sorts; the one relating more particularly to the state, and the other to the church, if I may without offence use that distinction ; for my witness is with God, I intend not provocation to any, but the edification of all.
Those impieties that relate more particularly to the state to correct, are Drunkenness; Whoredoms and Fornication ; Luxury or Excess, in Apparel, in Furniture, and in Living ; Profuse Gaming ; and finally, Oaths, Blasphemy, and Profaneness; these swarm in our streets, these are a scandal to our profession, and cry aloud to heaven, and provoke divine wrath against us.
Of the Sin of Drunkenness. Drunkenness, or excess in drinking, is not only a viola tion of God's law, but of our own natures: it doth, of all other sins, rob us of our reason, deface the impressions of virtue, and extinguish the remembrance of God's mercies and our own duty: it fits men for that which they would abhor, if sober. The incest, murder, robberies, fires, and other villanies, that have been done in drunken fits, make drunkenness a common enemy to human society. It renders men unfit for trust or business; it tells secrets, betrays friendship, disposes men to be trepanned and cheated : finally, it spoils health, weakens human race, and, above all, provokes the just God to anger, who cried thus of old John üii. 21.
+ Rev. xxii. 12. | 2 Cor. xiii, 5.
against those that were guilty of it;* “ Wo to the drunkards of Ephraim! the drunkards of Ephraim shall be trodden under feet: they have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; tbe priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.” Again, « Wo unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink. Wo unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink ; that continue unto night, till wine inflame them: and the harp, and the viol, the tabret and the pipe, and wine are in their feasts; but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operations of his hands. Therefore hell hath enlarged her self, and opened her mouth without measure, and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoices, shall descend into it.'
Yet, you will bear me witness, I do not wrong the present humour of too many in this nation, and those not of the lowest quality, in saying, that it is too often the beginning and top of their friendship: it is their common diversion and entertainment. I might safely say, the poor of England could be maintained by their excess. 0! hath the God of heaven given men plenty for such ends ? Or will this kind of improvement of their worldly talent give them peace in the day of judgment? But that people should do this without shame, nay, glory in it too, is greatly to be lamented; for it is not only palate or appetite, but an unnatural vanity of conquest, excites not a few; as if it were matter of triumph to drown a man's reason, and to degrade him to the beast.
Let us hear, upon the whole matter, the sentence pronounced against them by the wise man.
" Who hath woe? who hath sorrow, who hath contentions ! who hath bab. bling? who hath wounds without cause ? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine, they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine, when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright; at the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.”
Here is much of the mischiefs of drunkenness in a little, and of the excess and wantonness of the drunkard. But, alas ! did ever any age come near ours, when the very tasting of the several sorts of wine (that are liberally drank of at many tables) is enough to distemper a temperate head?
• Isa. xxviii. 1, 2, 3. Amos vi. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
+ Proy. xxij. 29, 30, 31, 32, 33.