Imatges de pÓgina

them under the especial Providence of God, as well as the Protection of the Civil Government


and under this Head I was to answer the Objection that ariseth from the Case of Persecution, which would fo naturally spring in any Man's Mind, that if I had not consider'd it, I had done my Work but by the halves : And I am sure if this Difficulty be removed, it remains true, that Good Men are reasonably secure by Huinane Government, and by Providence from being harm’d by other Men, even when their Innocence and Virtue doth not take away the Will to hurt them, because it deprives them of the Power fo to do, more than

any other Advantages whatsoever, The

3d Argument was, from The Incapacity of ill Men to harm the Righteous in their beft and greatelt Interests, because they cannot spoil them of a good Mind, and a good Conscience, and of the Favour of God, and of the Hope and Expectation of Eternal Life ; for which reason our Saviour bids us not to fear them that can kill the Body, and can then go no fartber, but to fear him that can destroy Body and Soul in Hell. : That is, to be afraid of offending him, and loqng his Favour, who alone can dispose of our Everlasting State, the Blefedness


Hh 4

whereof doth infinitely Outweigh all the transitory Pleasures of this World ; and if We Believe and Live accordingly, they will also be Outweigh'd thereby in our Esteem and Affection ; and then who can harın us if we' be followers of that which is good ? Who, unless he could exclude us from the Comforts of Religion, and from the Kingdom of Heaven ? To deal truly, I cannot positively say, that St. Peter meant this kind of Security from Harm in the Words of the Text ; for there is so much Reason, as appears from what I have faid in these Discourses, for a Man to promise himself Security from outward Harm, if he will follow that which is good, that if the Text be restrained to That, it will be inade good by that Interpretation : But the Words themselves will bear a farther Meaning, and a Meaning too which is most certainly a Truth, That no Man can harm a righteous Person without his own Consent in Things that are of greatest Concern to him, viz, of a Spiritual and Everlasting Concernment ; And this Meaning they will bear the better, because although the Virtues of a good Man's Mind, and the Expectation of Future Blessedness, are not the Happiness of this World, yet they give a Man the greatest Satisfa&ion, and make him inore Happy in this World, than all other Advantages put together can do : Upon which Account, a Virtuous Temper, and a Good Conscience, are the best Means of Happiness even in this Life.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

SERMON XVII. The Government of the


PRO V. XXV. xxviii. He that hath no Rule over his own

Spirit, is like a City that is broken down, and without Walls.


Y a Man's own Spirit here, which

he ought to rule, is meant those Affections wherewith we variously refent Things without us, and which carry us either to or from them, as we are affected; not that Divine Principle of our Natures, whereby we know God, and are able to reflect upon our felves. It is true in another Proverb, chap. 18. v. 14. The Spirit of a Man will jústain his Infirmity,


[ocr errors]

by the Spirit of a Man is to be under-
stood the Ruling Principle in him; but in
this, by the Word Spirit must be meant
that which is to be ruled in Man, to wit,
all the Passions and Affections of Human
Nature, both Irascible and Concupiscible, as
Moralists have distinguish'd them, who
have reduced them all to these two Heads.
Indeed I am apt to think that in this place
we are principally to understand Anger; for
in some Places it is fo to be understood, par-
ticularly in one Proverb almost parallel to
this, ch. 16. v. 32. He that is flow to Anger
is better than the Mighty: and be that ruleth
his Spirit, than he that taketh a City. But

because the Hebrew Word is
elfewhere used for other Paffi.. Gen. 41. 8.
ons, and because the reason of

Prov. 29. II.
this Saying requires that it
should be more generally understood, we
must not understand the Passion of Anger,
excluding all other Passions, but take them
in also, that being true of all the rest which
is affirmed of this. So that we are to rule
our Love and Hatred, our Defire and Aver-
sation, our Sorrow and Joy, our Hope and
Fear, our Disdain, our Mirth, our Indigna-
tion, and all other vehement Emotions,
which, because both Body and Mind are
affected with them, we therefore call Pasji-
ons; and for that reason, by Passion fimply
taken, we vulgarly understand Anger; and



35. 21.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »