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we may take an estimate of his integrity, which God rewarded at last.
The proposition that I shall discourse of is this, that the preserving a man's self from his iniquity, is an undeceiving evidence of uprightness.
In the managing the doctrine, three things are to be considered and unfolded.
1. What sin may be denominated a man's own.
In general, every sin that a man commits may be styled his own, as it is the issue of his corrupt nature, and the offspring of his depraved will. St. James expresses it,“ every man is tempted,” (that is, effectually) “ when he is drawn away of his own lust." The devil may solicit and excite, but without the consent of the will he can never fasten guilt upon us. Every actual sin is in some degree voluntary : but some sins, in an eminent propriety and peculiar manner, may be called our own ; such as there is a strong tendency to commit, either from the natural inclination, or custom, that is an aecessary nature, or from special respects that engage the will and affections. As in the natural body composed of various members, some are more dear and useful, as the right eye, and the right hand : so “ in the body of the sins of the flesh,” as the corrupt nature is styled by the apostle, from the variety and union of the vicious affections, there are some particular lusts, either for pleasure or profit, are as “the right eye, or right hand,” in our Saviour's language, so dear to men, that they will lose eternal life rather than be separated from them.
These reigning sins, that have a complete dominion in the unregenerate, are of different kinds in several persons. , I will proceed in the discovery of them. 1. By a direct light, from their
2. By a reflex light, from their effects. The causes of special sins are either natural or moral: the natural are the different temperaments of men's bodies, and the connexion of the passions, that so strongly draw the will, that we may as certainly understand what vicious actions are naturally consequent, as astronomers foretel the eclipses of the lights of heaven.
1. I will begin with the consideration of the different tempe
raments of men's bodies, which are the secret springs of their inelinations and aversions. It is requisite to premise, that original sin, the poison distilled through all the faculties of man by propagation, is an universal supreme evil: * It is a seminary of all corrupt desires, from whence the issues of actual sins are derived : and that some are less inclined to notorious sins than others, is not from naked nature, but from the singular distinguishing mercy of God.
This depravation, so general and deplorable, was observed by the wiser heathens, who were ignorant of the cause of it, the rebellious sin of Adam, the common father and representative of mankind. This corruption of nature doth not extenuate, but aggravate our guilt : as the psalmist with deep sorrow acknowledges his native inherent pollution ; “ In sin was I conceived, and in iniquity brought forth.” I know many bold inquiring wits have presumed to examine the decrees of God concerning the lapsed state of mankind: but it is much safer † to admire the divine providence, than to argue; to believe the revelation, than to dispute against it.
But although the $ corrupt nature virtually includes all sin, vet there is not an equal propensity to all in every person : as in waste neglected grounds, some weeds are ranker and rifer than others, from the quality of the soil ; so some kinds of sin are more predominant and evident in the lives of man, according to their peculiar dispositions.
For the unfolding this, we are to consider, that the soul of man in its state of union, has a continual dependance upon the body, both in its intellectual and moral operations. Consider it as a spirit, and in its separate state, it is capable of acting as freely and independently as those pure intelligencies that are distant from alliance with gross matter: but consider the spirit as a soul consociated with a body of flesh, there is a strange circling influence between the soul and the body: the dispositions
* Πανσπερμία παθών. Ρlut.
+ Quæris tu rationem, ego expavesco altitudinem. Tu ratiocinare, ego miror.
Aug. Serem, 7. de verb. Apost,
I stultus omnia vitia habet, sed non in omnia natura pronus est : omnia in omnibus sunt, sed non omnia in sing its extant. Omnia in omnibus insunt; sed in quibusdam singula eminent. Senec. de benef, L, 4,
of the body suitably incline the soul, and the inclinations of the soul affect the body. In the intellectual operations as the animal spirits are qualified, some are of subtile and quick wits, others of stayed and solid minds ; some are fit for contemplation, others for action. And in moral actions the soul works by the active power of the sensitive faculties, and the actions resemble the instruments. The complexion of our minds as well as manners is usually suitable to our natural temperature. I will more distinctly unfold this. In the human body there is the united figure of the world, the heavy earth, the liquid water, the subtile air, and active fire enter into its composition : from the mixture of these ingredients results the temperature of the bodies ; and as the qualities proper to them are predominant, men are denominated sanguine or melancholy, choleric or phlegmatic: such as the constitution is, such are the inclinations, and such are the actions that flow from them. It is observable, that brute creatures are either fierce or tame, bold or fearful, stupid or docile, as their blood is hotter or colder, of a finer or thicker contexture. And in children there is an early disclosure of contrary dispositions according to their temperaments : thus some are soft and ductile, others stiff and stubborn; some are of a sweet pliable temper, drawn by counsel and the cords of love ; others of a baser cast, will not be led by reason and kindness, but must be constrained by fear; some are of an ingenuous disposition, blushing at any thing that is indecent and disparaging; others defy all modesty, and will not change countenance though surprised in foul action. As the inclination in animals to actions proper to their kind, is discovered by their offers before they are fit for action: birds will attempt to fly before their wings are formed; so in children, inclinations to particular vices appear according to their different constitutions, before their sensitive faculties are capable of complete acts.
More particularly, those persons in whose complexion blood is predominant, are usually light and vain, sensual and riotous, insolent and aspiring, bold and presumptuous: those in whom phlegm is the principal ingredient, are idle and slow, cold and careless in things of moment; the most ardent exhortations are lost upon them, as bags of wool deaden the force of bullets, in yielding without resistance. Those who are timorous and deeply tinctured with melancholy, are suspicious, sour, and inexorable.
The dark shadows of their minds are believed as visible testimonies of dangers; and their silent suspicions as real proofs. They are jealous of all persons and things : if in conversation there be speech of the virtues they are conscious to want, or the vices they are secretly guilty of, they imagine it is directed to their reproach. They are intractable, and often revengeful; for melancholy is a vicious humour that retains the impressions of the passions. Those who are choleric by nature, are heady, various, violent, and create perpetual trouble to themselves and others. Such a soul and such a body united, are like two malefactors fastened with one chain. In short, according to the elemental crasis of our bodies, objects affect our senses, and the fancy, with the lower appetite, are the centre of the senses, and there is so near an activity and reference between the passions and the reasonable faculties, that the understanding and will receive impressions accordingly, as the passions are excited and moved.
It is observable, that the corrupt nature in the languge of scripture, is usually called flesh, not only as it is transmitted by carnal propagation, but as it is drawn forth by carnal objects, and exercised by the carnal faculties. And as the same constitution is heightened in some, and in a remisser degree, in others, so the
proper to it are more or less exorbitant; as the same sort of vines produce a stronger or weaker grape, according to the quality of the air and soil wherein they are planted. That vicious inclinations spring from the different temperament of men's bodies, there is a pregnant proof in the visible diversity of lusts that are peculiar in degrees of eminence in some families, some countries, and several ages of men's lives. We often see hereditary vices transmitted by descent: some families are voluptuous, others vindictive ; some sordid and covetous, others profuse ; some ambitious, others servile, resembling their parents, from whom the secret seeds of those dispositions are ingenerate in their temper. So in different climates, according to the impression made on the natives by the air and diet, they are distinguished by their * proper vices (not so generally found in other nations) as by their countenances : some are formal and superstitious, others wild and barbarous; some are crafty and treacherous, others are wanton and luxurious. As some diseases reign in some countries, that are less frequent, and not so fatal in other places. The apostle tells us of the Cretians, that “they are always liars, evil beasts, and slow bellies;" their habitual vices fastened this universal character upon them.
* Sunt tam civitatum quam singulorum bominum mores: gentes aliæ ira. cundæ, aliæ audaces quædain timidæ quædam in vinum & venerem proniLiv. Hist, I. 45.
And according to the alteration made in the bodies of men in the several ages of life, their vicious affections run in several channels : the spring is the same, corrupt nature; and the issue will be the same, the lake of fire ; but the course is different. St. John distinguishes the corrupt inclinations that are predominant in the world, under three titles, “The lusts of the flesh, and the lusts of the eyes, and pride of life:" 1 John 2. these lusts have their proper seasons, and successively take the throne in men's hearts. - In youth, the lusts that in propriety are called the * “Lusts of the flesh," imperiously reign. Youth is a kind of natural drunkenness, the blood runs races, and with a heat and rapture hurries many into sensual excess and riots. Youth is highly presumptuous, easily deceived, and † refractory to reason: the superior faculties, the understanding and will, are basely servile to the carnal appetites. The wise preacher intimates this in his bitter irony; “Rejoice, O young man in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes : but know, for all these things God will bring thee to judgment.” Eccles. 11. Vain mirth, and loose desires, are usually indulged in the spring of our age: therefore the apostle emphatically warns Timothy, though a mortified young man, “Flee youthful lusts."
In the maturer age, the sensual passions are cooler, less vigorous and active, and youthful lusts are changed for other lusts that are not so scandalous, and leave not such a visible stain, but are as destructive to the soul. It is very observable in human nature, that as the affections in their sensible operations decay, the understanding improves and recovers its ruling power : it is visible in many instances, that men in their staid age despise
* Istæ voluptates duæ gustus & tactus solæ sunt hominibus communes eum bestiis, & ideo in pecudum numero habetur, quisquis est his feriois voluptatibus prævinctus. , Aug. Gel.
+ Cæreras in vitium fecti, monitoribus asper.