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pull out the eyes of those that are dead in their sins, that they may not see their imminent damnation.
But, for us; tell me, ye that hear me this day, are ye Christians in earnest, or are ye not? If ye be not, what do ye here? If ye be, there is a hell in your creed. Ye do not less believe there is a hell for the godless, than an earth for men, a firmament for stars, a heaven for saints, a God in heaven: and, if ye do thus firmly believe it, cast but your eyes aside upon that fiery gulf, and sin if ye dare. Ye love yourselves well enough to avoid a known pain :we know there are Stocks, and Bridewells, and Gaols, and Dungeons, and Racks, and Gibbets for malefactors; and our very fear keeps us innocent: were your hearts equally assured of those hellish torments, ye could not, ye durst not, continue in those sins, for which they are prepared.
But, what an unpleasing and unseasonable subject am I fallen upon, to speak of Hell in a Christian Court, the emblem of Heaven! Let me answer for myself, with devout Bernard, Sic mihi con. tingat semper beare amicos, terrendo salubriter, non adulando fallaciter; “ Let me thus ever bless my friends, with wholesome frights, rather than with plausible soothings.” Sumenda sunt amara salubriu; saith St. Austin: bitter wholesome is a safe receipt for a Christian: and what is niore bitter or more wholesome than this thought? The way not to feel a Hell, is to see it, to fear it. I fear we are all generally defective this way: we do not retire ourselves enough into the chamber of meditation, and think sadly of the things of another world. Our self-love puts off this torment: notwithstanding our willing sins, with David's plague, non appropinquabit, It shall not come nigh thee. If we do not make a league with hell and death, yet with ourselves against them.
Fallit peccatum falså dulcedine, as St. Austin, “Sin deceives us with a false pleasure.” The pleasure of the world is like that Colchian honey, whereof Xenophon's soldiers 110 sooner tasted, than they were miserably distempered: those, that took little, were drunk: those, that took more, were mad : those, that took most, were dead. Thus are we, either intoxicated, or infatuated, or killed outright with this deceitful world, that we are not sensible of our just fears : at the best, we are so besotted with our stupid security, that we are not affected with our danger,
Woe is me! the impenitent resolved sinner is already fallen into the mouth of hell; and hangs there but by a slender twig of his momentary life: when that hold fails, he fails down headlong into that pit of horror and desolation.
Oh, ye, my Dear Brethren, so many as love your souls, have mercy upon yourselves. Call aloud, out of the deeps of your sins, to that compassionate Saviour, that he will give you the hand of faith, to lay hold upon the hand of his mercy and plenteous redemption, and pull you out of that otherwise-irrecoverable destruction; else
ye are gone, ye are gone for ever. Two things, as Bernard borrows of St. Gregory, make a man both good and safe, “ To repent of evil, to abstain from evil.” you, but
Would ye escape the wrath of God, the fire of hell? Oh, wash you clean, and keep you so. There is no laver for your own tears, and the blood of your Saviour. Bathe your souls in both of these, and be secure. Consider how many are dying now, which would give a world for one hour to repent in. Oh, be ye careful then to improve your free and quiet hours, in a serious and hearty contrition for your sins: say to God, with the Psalmist, Deliver me from the evil man; that is, from myself, as that Father construes it.
And, for the sequel, instead of the denying the power of Godliness, resolve to deny yourselves, to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world; that, having felt and approved the power of Godliness in the illuminating our eyes, in raising us from our sins, in ejecting our corruptions, in changing our lives, and creating our hearts anew, we may at the last feel the happy consummation of this power, in the full possessing of us in that eternal Blessedness and Glory which he hath prepared for all that love him: To the perfect fruition whereof, he bring us, that hath dearly bought us, Jesus Christ the Righteous: To whom, &c.
THE CHARACTER OF MAN.
MARCH 1, 1634.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE AND MY EVER MOST WORTHILY HO
NOURED LORD; EDWARD, LORD DENNY, BARON OF WALTHAM, EARL OF NORWICH.
RIGHT HONOURABLE: As one, that hath no power to stand out against the importunity of him, whose least motion is justly wont to pass with me for a command, I have here sent your Lordship the copy of my Sermon, lately preached at the Court; which, partly the distance, and partly the inconvenience of the place and season, would not suffer you to hear; that now your ear may be supplied by your eye: though not without some disadvantage on my part. Let it lie by you, as a private and faithful monitor, instead of
Your Lordship's truly and sincerely, devoted
in all observance,
PSALM cxliv. 3, 4. Lord, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him; or the son
of man, that thou makest account of him? Man is like unto vani.
My Text, and so my Sermon too, is the just Character of Man. “A common and stale theme,” you will
but a needful one: we are all apt to mis-know or to forget what we are. No blacks, nor soul-bells, nor death's heads on our rings, nor funeral sermons, nor tombs, nor epitaphs, can fix our hearts enough upon our frail and miserable condition. And, if any man have condescended to see his face in the true looking-glass of his wretched frailty, so soon as his back is turned he forgets his shape straight: especially at a
Court, where outward glory would seem to shoulder out the thoughts of poor despicable mortality.
Give me leave therefore, Honourable and Beloved, to ring my own knell in your ears this day; and to call home your eyes little; and to shew you that, which I fear you too seldom see, yourselves.
Lent and funerals are wont still to go both in one livery. There is no book so well worthy reading, as this living one. Even now David spake as a king of men, of people subdued under him: now he speaks as a humble vassal to God; Lord, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him?
In one breath is both sovereignty, and subjection: an absolute sovereignty over his people; My people are subdued under me: an humble subjection to the God of kings; Lord, what is man?
Yea, in the very same word wherein is the profession of that sovereignty, there is an acknowledgment of subjection: Thou hast subdued my people. In that he had people, he was a king: that they might be his people, a subjugation was requisite; and that subjugation was God's, and not his own; Thou hast subdued. Lo, David had not subdued his people, if God had not subdued them for him. He was a great king, but they were a stiff people: the God that made them swayed them to a due subjection. The great conquerors of worlds could not conquer hearts, if he, that moulded hearts, did not temper them. By me kings reign; saith the Eternal Wisdom: and he, that had courage enough to encounter a bear, a lion, Goliath, yet can say, Thou hast subdued my people.
Contrarily, in that lowliest subjection of himself, there is an acknowledgment of greatness. Though he abaseth himself with a What is man? yet, withal, he adds, thou takest knowledge of him, thou makest account of him: and this knowledge, this account of God, doth more exalt man, than his own vanity can depress him.
My Text then, ye see, is David's rapture, expressed in an ecstatical question of sudden wonder; a wonder at God, and at inan: MAN'S VILENESS; What is man? GOD'S MERCY AND FAVOUR; in his Knowledge, in his Estimation of man.
Lo, there are but two lessons, that we need to take out here, in the world, God and Man; and here they are both : Man, in the notion of his Wretchedness; God, in the notion of his Bounty.
Let us, if you please, take a short view of both; and, in the one, see cause of our humiliation; of our joy and thankfulness, in the other: and if, in the former, there be a sad Lent of mortification; there is, in the latter, a cheerful Easter of our raising and exaltation.
1. Many a one, besides David, wonders at himself: one wonders at his own honour; and, though he will not say so, yet thinks, " What a great man am I! Is not this great Babel, which I have built?” this is Nebuchadnezzar's wonder. Another wonders at his person; and finds, either a good face, or a fair eye, or an exquisite hand, or a weil-shaped leg, or some gay fleece, to admire in himself: this was Absalom's wonder. Another wonders at his wit and learning: “ How came I by all this? Turba hec! This vulgar, that kvows not the Law, is accursed :" this was the Pharisee's wonder. Another wonders at his wealth ; “ Soul take thine ease;" as the Epicure in the Gospel. David's wonder is as much above, as against all these: he wonders at his VILENESS: like as the Chosen Vessel would boast of nothing, but his infirmities: Lord, what is man?
How well this hangs together! No sooner had he said, Thou hast subdued my people under me, than he adds, Lord, what is man?
Some vain heart would have been lifted up with a conceit of his own eminence: “Who I? I am not as other men. I have people under me; and people of my own; and people subdued to me:" this is to be more than a man. I know who hath said, I said ye are gods.
Besides Alexander the Great, how many of the Roman Casars have been transported with this self-admiration; and have challenged temples, altars, sacrifices ! how have they shared the months of the year among them! April must be Neronius; May, Claudius; June, Germanicus; September, Antoninus; Domitian will have October; November is for Tiberius, by the same token, that, when it was tendered to him, he asked the Senate wittily, as Xiphiline reports it, what they would do when they should have more than twelve Cæsars. But if there were no: months enough for them in the year, there were stars enough in the sky; there was elbowroom enough in their imaginary heaven, for their deification.
What tell I you of these? A sorry Clearchus of Pontus, as Suidas tells us, would be worshipped, and have his son called Lightning. Menecrates, the physician, though not worthy to be Esculapius's apothecary's boy, yet would be Jupiter. Empedocles, the philosopher, if it had not been for his shoe would have gone for immortal. Sejanus will be sacrificing to himself.
I could tire you with these prodigies of pride. I could tell you of a Xerxes, that will be correcting the Hellespont; and writing letters of threat to the mountain Athos: of one of his proud sultan successors, Sapores, that writ himself “Brotherto the Sun and Moon:” of his great neighbour of China, that stiles himself “ Heir apparent to the Living Sun:” and the wise Cham of Tartary,“ Son of the Highest God." Caligula would Taís Bportāls á vtißpoutāv, as Dio; “ counter-thunder to God;" and will be no less than Jupiter Latialis: and the Scythian Roylus can say, It is easy for him to de. stroy all that the sun looks upon,
Lord God! how can the vain pride of man befool him, and carry him away to ridiculous affectations!
'The man after God's own heart is in another vein: when he looks downward, he sees the people crouching under him, and confesses his own just predominancy; but, when he looks either upward to God, or inward to himself, he says, Lord, what is man?
It should not be, it is not in the power of earthly greatness, to raise the regenerate heart above itself; or to make it forget the true grounds of his own humiliation, Avolet, quantum volet palea; as he