« PoprzedniaDalej »
CH A P. II. Producing one di&tate, or rule of right reason, respecting more
lity, allowed by minkind; and paffing current through the world, without one negative voice, except only from those men, whose reasons are utterly captivated by their lufts.
$1. SUCH is the degeneracy and deep corruption of some
w men's natures, by ill education, base company, and long coltom io fin; that abandoning and casting away the bonds and restraints of right realon, as well as religion, they give the full scope and liberty to their lufts and passions, reckoping their chief happiness to confilt in the gratification and satisfaction of their feolitive appetites. They affect a soft, delicale, sensepleasiog life; reckoning it the only real heaven to be desired and fought by them; and any other heaven beside that to be merely notional and fantastic. This is the element they defire to live and sport in, fitly described, Tit. iij. 3. by serving divers lufts and pleasures. Hence it comes to pass, that their bor dies lerve only to be ftrainers for meats and drinks, and chanpels for filthy lusts to stream through. In this stream, their masculine agility melts away, and all public hopes and expectagioos from them, are totally defeated and disappointed. Appetite is the master, and reason the flave.
These men (if it bę fit to call them men) have bid defiance to their owo reason, and denounced a war agaiol their owa faculties; as if reafoo had licensed and privileged (which it never did, vor can do their worse than brutish lusts, to act to the yttermost of their abilities, without any manner of restraint over them.
♡ 2. But notwithstanding the present captivity of reason, upder ulurping and domineering lusts, so long as it hath a perma. pent and fixed root aod principle in their bature, it is posible it may recover its throne and empire over them again ; as many şa imprisoned kiog hath done, and probably would do in a very Ahort Space, if those prejudices they have conceived against its government, were but once fairly confuted and removed ; which certainly is not hard to do.
They are of opioion, that the laws of reason are too fevere, Arict, and rigorous ; that they too much abridge them of their pleasures and delights; and ibat the government of fedfuality being more easy, favourable and indulgent, is for that reason, much more eligible and desirable.
Whercas right reason deligas not the abandoning of all plea:
lures, but only the exchange of them, and that exchange every way to our great advantage. The only hurt or loss, (if this must be accounted so) any 'mao cao sustaia by the exchange of pleasures made by reason aod religion is this ; that they design for you the ratiopal, ordinate, and congruous delights, both of a man, and of a Christian ; in lieu of the lower, baser, aud filthy pleasures of a beast or a devil.
They propose to you rules about pleasures, far more safe and grateful, without any culpable severity, or austerity in them, Reason would only regulate and legitimate your delights, and religion sanctify them; that you might much more purely and sweetly enjoy them, without either shame arising from their turpitude, or fear from their guilt. The rules of both are large apd indulgent enough; and, keepiog within their lines and limits, med fhall fiod (uch generous, maply, and agreeable de: lights, as are po where to be enjoyed without them. . .
3. To make this evident, I shall postulate aod presume but one thing, and that a thing so immediately true aod felf, evident, that in the first gaked proposal of it, it paturally and easily lets itself into every man's understaadiog, and no sooner asks, but gains the approbation of right reafoo. And that self-evident principle, which I take for granted, ao map of found intellectuals will quarrel or dispute, is this :
That good which compriseth and involvetb the true honour, profit, and pleasure of the whole man, which is more congruous to human nature, and preservative of it, is to be preferred in our estimation and cbọice, to that which only yields a lower de. gree of pleasure, without profit or honour, to the baleft part of man: and that low and transient pleasure it doth yield, attended and followed with many present and future miseries, defiru&tive to the whole man.
· The several parts of this complex proposition, cast such a light and glory ropnd about them, that I cannot imagine, but as soon as it shall be propounded to the judgment and censure of souod reason, it must immediately gain both its approbation and appl.zule.
But because reason in many men is so beclouded and disturb. ed by lusts and passions, that it can neither receive things or derly, oor judge of them truly aod impartially ; I conceive it needful, to demand the cenfure and judgment of their reason, upon the particulars comprised in this general complex proposition; that so weighing and examining them one by one, we may try, whether lound reason hath any valuable exception 4, gainst any part, or member ihereof.
$ 4. And, first, I take it for granted, ihat no man's reafon will depy, or demur to this proposition; that good is to be chajen, and evil to be avoided : for the will is naturally carried to that which is good, as to its proper object, aod shups that which is evil. And that is paturally good, which is convenient and agreeable to nature, and that naturally evil, which is discon. venient and hurtful to dature. So that the choice of good rather than evil is the patural choice of the will; and this choice of the will is founded upon the law of self-preservation, without which the creation would quickly disbaod, and no particular being could be long preserved. .
Aod not only the will of rational creatures chuseth the good, and refuse th the evil; but every sensitive creature is endowed with a natural faculty, to discern the one from the other, in order to the prefervasion of their beings. You fiod it in the smallest and most despicable animals; and therefore cannot deby ic unto man, the noblest and most excellent being on earth; except only in his non-age, before he hath lived to the years of discretion. Children, indeed, in their infancy, have no knowledge to difcern between good and evil; Deut. i. 39. But men, pot disceruing good from evil, or chusing evil rather than good, are many degrees beneath babes..
Secondly, Nor will reason hesitate at all upon this particular, That there are degrees of goodness found among pleasures and delights; some are better than others. Every life is not alike pleasant and happy. To deny this, is to make the most despicable worm, or fly, equally happy with the most excellent creature upon earth. And beside, for the conviction of such debauched persons as I am here arguing with, it will follow 'clearly from the denial of that truth, that they really gain no. thing to themselves, by all their extravagant and licentious courfes; there being altogether as much pleasure and felicity, in a temperate, chaste, and sober life, as there is io that beastly life they live ; and their very departure from the way of sobriety, to embrace the ways of debauchery, molt clearly evinceth to the world, that they do not think all pleasu:s equal; but that they do confidently expect to find more pleasure and fatisfaction in the way that they chuse, than they did in the way of fobriety, which they have left and abandoned.
Thirdly, I cannot be so ubcharitable to thiok, but the relicts of reason in the most profligate person. will readily admit aod grant, That wherever the good of pleasure, profit, and honour, meet together, and jointly conspire to make tbe life of a man more comfortable, and more durable upon earth; that is much
rather to be chosen, than a mere transient touch of sensitive plea. fure, accompanied with present regret, and followed with the ruin of estate, name, honour, soul, and body. He that thinks otherwile, is more fit for a bedlam, than a rational and sober confutation. These things therefore I take for granted, they being innate and self-evident notions and principles in all men.'
$ 5. The wisdom and goodness of God are clearly discere nible, io leaving such principles of reason, and common notices of conscieoce in men after the fall, as prompt them paturally on. to justice, chastity, temperance, and sobriety; and do struggle within them, to restrain them from, or recover them out of their immoralities; from which many advantages do result. .
'For hereby God is acknowledged all the world over, men every where shewing by these things the work of the law writ. ten in their hearts; Rom. ii. 15.
Hereby kingdoms and commonwealths are preserved ; this being the common bridle, which restrains the outrageous lusts of millions of men, which else would turn the world into confusion ; though here and there some have nipt bridle, and run into all excess of riot. We justly admire the providence of God, in buttiog, bounding, and restraining the boisterous ocean, by mountaios, rocks, and fands : and as much is he to be admired, in curbing the insatiable lusts of men, by these ianate priociples of reason and conscience. .
Hereby the way to fin is in some measure barred and shut up; and the further progress of fingers, already entered into it, stopped and denied. For actions done with regret, cannot be fiipposed to be done so frequently and furiously, as if they were done without any regret ; or that the way to fia was smoothed to them, with a full consent and approbation of their whole felf. For molt figgers find in themselves what Medea did,
Video meliora, proboque, Deteriora fequor • They both see and approve that which is better, though they • follow that which is worse.'
In a word, these relicts of reason and conscieoce in men, are fit handles to catch hold on, for the turning them about from Satan unto God. When Paul reasoned with Felix, about temperance, righteousness, and judgment to corde, his words laid hold upon these handles, and gave him such a Make, that the text faith, Felix trembled. And, O! that this might take hold of the reason and conscience of every profane reader, and produce some more excellent and lasting effect upon his soul.
$ 6. These notices and dictates of reason and conscience in men, being so necessary, and many ways beneficial to themselves, as well as to the whole community; it must therefore be a horrid villainy to war against them; and, by violence, to suppress and enllave them to their own lusts.
This is, as if a company of desperate ruffian's, should asfaul indoceat and noble travellers upon the lawful road, biod and gag their guides, whilst they rob and prostitute them. Thus deal brutith lusts, (headed by the devil) with the affections of men, travelling along the lawful road of duty, under the conduct of reason and conscience. For this villaiay it was, that the apostle tells us, " The wrath of God was revealed froth “ heaven against the Heathens, who held the truth in uprighte" ousness," Rom. i. 18. They had the light of natural reafon and conscience in them, the iobred notions of good and cuil; which raised their hopes or fears, according to the nature and quality of their actions.
* Conscia mens ut cuique sua eft, ita concipit intra : Pectora pro fačto spemque metumque fuo. Ovid. But their headstrong boisterous lusts, rudely and violently brake in upon reason and conscience, imprisoned and bound them; as Zedekiah did the faithful prophet Jeremiah, for the discharge of his duty to him. For this, “ the wrath of God was revealed " from heaven against them.” Aod indeed, we cannot wonder it should be inceosed against them, as it will agaiost all that act like them. For into such a sin as this, maoy direful aggrava. tions fall in together, to make it a monstrous and prodigious fin. Here we find an high and causeless abuse of the nobleft natural faculties and powers of a man's own soul. What harm have thy reason and conscience done thee, by stimulating and persuading thee to temperance, chastity, and sobriety; or by struggliog and Atriving with thee, to prevent both thy prefent and future ruin? Do they lay their faithful and loving hands of restraint upon thee, when they see thee running headlong into destruction ? And do they deserve for this, and no worse than this, to be thus trampled under foot, and abused ? Ask thyself, man, Whether thou thinkest thy very dog deserves to be hanged, for opening at midnight, and taking that thief by the throat, who came to cut thine? And darest thou use those poble powers within thee, worse than thou wouldst use a dog ? Humanity would blush at such an action.
These vile abuses of thy reason and conscience carry also ia them an horrid contempt of God; whose patetit, officers, and
* As each min's soul of good or ill is conscious,
So hope for good he feels, but fears for pice,