Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

delegates, thy reason and conscience are. Those certainly sin with an high hand against the Lord, who make nothing to con troul, kick, and lay in irons, his commission-officers, appointed for no other end, but their present and future felicity. Nay,

Such men as these are found in a plain confederacy with the devil, and that in a most unnatural and horrid plot against their own souls and bodies. Their light and their lufts are strug. gling together. Sin and conscience are combating one with another; the one to destroy, the other to save the man. Darest thou join with thy lusts against thy light, and think not to be brought in as a party and confederate with the devil ? The stop. ping of the mouth of thy conscience, fully proves both thy confent and concealment: and if proved consent and concealment make thee not a party and acceffary, it will be very strange,

Plutarch, in his book de Amicitia, relates a story of a Persian, who scuffling in the dark with a magician, against whom he had a grudge; and not being able to conquer him himself, called upon his friend who stood by him with a naked sword ready to ftrike, but durft not, for fear of killing his friend: the Perfian cries out, Strike, strike, however thy stroke fall: thrust • at an adventure. I care not, fo thou kill the magician,

though thou kill him through mine own body.'.

Much fo stands the case here, with a little variation. Thou art furiously set upon the enjoyment of thy lusts ; nothing will quiet thee, but their satisfaction. Thy reason and conscience will oppose it, and struggle hard with thee, to with hold thee from them. But thou earest not, in the rage of thine insatiable appetite, tho'thy reason and conscience both fall in the combat, rather than thy lusts should not be satisfied. Oh, what brutes! yea, what monsters, can sin turn men into !

7. If men have not quite extinguished both reason and conscience by debauchery, and divefted themselves of humanity; one would think, no motion or address can possibly be made to them more fair, rational, and inoffensive, than this, that they would be pleased but to consult themselves, and hearken to the native and unconstrained voice of their own reason and conscience, before they engage themselves in mat. ters of great concernment, upon which both their present and eternal welfare do depend; or, if they are already engaged, yet at least to lend an ear to what they have to offer for their recovery,

before it be too late. You are not here urged and prefied, to hearken to the voices of your enemies that hate you, or to the counsel and ad

VOL. VIII.

I y

vice of mere strangers, who know not your affairs; but to hearken to yourselves, to be your own arbitrators and judges, to draw up the award with your own hand. It is a strange and an hard case indeed, and scarce to be supposed, that men Mould fall out with themselves at such a rate, that they had sather hear the voice of their mortal enemy the devil, and liften to his advice and counsel, than to the voice of their own reason and conscience.

We all account it madness in Balaam, to beat his innocent ass, and threaten to kill her for thunning the sword of the angel, that opposed his passage in a sinful and dangerous expedi. tion ; but how many ule both their reason and conscience worse than afses, because they dare not go forward, and defpe. rately carry them into the very midst of dangers and miseries, which they plainly foresee, and warn them of ?

What injuries have thy reason or conscience done thee, man? What affronts have they given thee; that thou wilt not suffer them to speak, or offer one word, though never so pertinent, seasonable and necessary? There is a civility due from us to mere strangers ; yea, to strangers of an inferior rank and quality. The lealt we can do, is to give them a patient hearing; and not interrupt them, whilft they speak no: thing but what is rational, pertinent, and necessary, especially if it be to their own good and advantage. It is ftrange, men should not think themselves as much obliged to pay civility and 1.Jespect to their own reasons and consciences, as they daily pay to mere ftrangers and inferiors. Give them but a patient hearing, and they will both tell thee;

* We are thine appointed guardians, and have our 6 million from God, to advise, direct, and counsel. We are

thy faithful and inward friends ; yea, we are thine ownself, and the best and noblest part of thyself too. At our hands God will require thy blood, should it thou perifh by our filence or treachery. We cannot be both silent and innocent, both are in such hazard. Do not abuse us, and stop our mouths

for cryiög out, stop, stop; when we see thee departing from (the paths of honesty, honour, and safety, and taking the • direct road to that gulph of misery, in which few (if any)

footsteps are found of such as return again, that are far engaged therein. • Suffer us but fairly and friendly to expoftulate the matter with thee. What design can we have against thy true in. i terest; whilst thine, and ours, cannot possibly be opposite;

or disjunct, but one and the fame interest ?"

com.

។ 7

Well then, that which 'thy reason and conscience offers, being so weighty, fair, and just, and what 'thine own interest plainly lies in ; I will not be so uncharitable, as to suppose thou wilt either refuse to hear, or reject what they have to say, in the following cafes and debates.

[ocr errors]

CH A P. III. Wherein the true censure and judgment of right reason and conscience, are given upon profane fwearing, and blaspheming the n me of God: As also their replies to several pleas offered

in defence or excuse thereof. § 1. OD bestowed on man the noble faculty of speech,

(a peculiar favour and privilege) for two ends and uses. (1.) That by the use of his tongue, he may glorify his .. Maker, and sound forth the praises of his Redeemer. (2.) That we might thereby be able to communicate our minds one to another, in all our neceflary and convenient interests and concernments, whether civil or religious. This member, (the tongue) tho' small in quantity, is found to be mighty in efficacy; and whilst it is kept under the rule and government of grace, the words that drop from it, are as apples of gold in pictures of filver. Gracious words are bread to feed, and water to refresh the souls of others. A sanctified tongue is as a free of life. Conversion, edification, and confolation, are the delicious fruits of the lips.

But the tongues of some men break loose from under all the laws and rules both of reason and religion, and serve only to vent the froth and filth, which abound in the heart, as in a fountain of pollution : For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. The tongue moves lightly, but falls heavily; it strikes soft, but wounds deep. It would not spare men of the highest rank and eminence, did not the fear of capital punishments teach them fo much wit, to keep their tongues in prison, that they may keep their bodies out of prison. And though, for this reason, they are afraid of making too bold with the names of men ; yet having no fear of God at all, they fall upon his great and dreadful name, tossing it to and fro, without any respect or reverence.

Augustus prohibited ihe common- use of his name, lest it fhouid

grow too cheap and vile, by the common and needless uGng of it. The name of Mercurius Trismegistus was very Sparingly used, because of the great reverence the people had

[ocr errors]

for him. The very Heathens were afraid to pronounce the name of their great God, Demogorgon, as fearing the earth would tremble, when his name was mentioned. How doth the reverence of Heathens to their false gods, expose and age gravate the impudence of profeffed Christians, in their vile in. dignities and abuses of the great and terrible name of the true God! Yea, they not only take up his name vainly and rafhly into their lips, but audaciously insert it by a profane oath into their common talk, as that which gives the grace, lepor, and ornament to their discourses. Some have not been ashamed to say, what pity is it, that fwearing should be a fin ; which gives so great a grace and ornament to language ?

2. Swearing by the name of God in a righteous cause, when called thereto by due authority, is not only a lawful, but a religious act, founded upon, and directed to the honour of God's omniscience; whereunto there is a solemn appeal made, in every affertory and promissory oath, and a religious acknowledgment made him, of his infallible knowledge of the truth or falsehood of our hearts, and all the sectets of them, be they never so involved and inward things.

The lawful use and end of swearing, is to put an end to all strife, and to maintain both equity and charity among men ; the two bonds and ligaments of human society. Now, it being the sovereign right and property of God alone, infallibly to search and try the hearts and reins of men, he thereby becomes the infallible witness to the truth or falsehood of what they speak; fo that in every such lawful oath, there is not only a folemn appeal, and in that appeal, an afcription of glory to his fovereign omniscience; but therein (implicitly at least) they put themselves under his wrath and curse, in case they swear falsely, which makes this action most faered and solemin,

The deep corruption of human nature by the fall, makes these appeals to God under a curse necessary. For it is sup. posed, though men be false and deceitful, yet there is some Feverence of a Deity, and fear of his wrath and curse, left unextinguished in their fallen nature. So that men will rather fpeak the truth (though to their own shame and lofs) than by invocating so glorious a name in vain, put both foul and body, under his wrath and curse. By which it appears

what ful-and solemn thing an oath is; and that every good man, not only takes a lawful oath with holy fear and trembling, because of the solemnity of the action; but rather ought to chuse death, than to swear profanely, because of the horrid maligui ty of the action,

an aw

$3. The contumely and malignity found in profane oaths, appears in that terrible threatening, “ The Lord will not hold “ him guiltless that taketh his name in vain :" A threaten. ing, altogether as juft and righteous, as it is fevere and terrible. This sin admits of degrees of guilt. It is highly sinful to swear by the name of God lightly and vainly in our common discourses, though the oath be clipped, and half fuppressed, or disguised in the pronunciation of it; which argues fome remains of fear and shame in the finner. · It is yet worse (and indeed not a jot below blasphemy) to {wear by any other name, than the name of God: For in fo doing, they attribute to a creature the sovereign and incommunicable property of God, set that creature in the very throne of God, and invest it with the regalities of his omniscience, to know our hearts, and almighty power, to avenge the wrong upon us, done to himself, as well as to men, by false-fwearing.

But to break in rudely and blafphemously upon the sacred and tremendous name of God, with bold and full-mouthed oaths, striking through his sacred name with direct contumelious blafphemies; this argues an heart, from which all fear of God is utterly expelled and banished.

Yet fome there are, grown up to that prodigious height of impiety, that they dare affault the very heavens, and discharge whole vollies of blasphemies against the glorious Majesty which dwells there. They are not afraid to bid defiance to him, and challenge the God that made them, to do his worst. They deck and adorn (as they account it) their common discourses with. bloody oaths, and horrid imprecations; nct reckoning them genteel and modish without them. It consists not with the greatness of their spirits, to be wicked at the common rate: They are willing to let the world know, that they are none of those puny, filly fellows, that are afraid of invisible powers; or so much cowards, as to clip a full-mouthed oath, by fuppressing, or whispering the emphatical sounding syllable; but think an horrid blasphemy makes the most sweet and graceful cadency in their bellish rhetoric.

They glory, that they have fully conquered all those trou. blesome notions of good and evil, virtue and vice, heaven and hell, to that degree, that they can now affront the divine Majefty to his very face, and not fear the worst he threatens in his word against their wickedness.

If there be a God, (which they scarce believe) they are refolved, audaciously to provoke him to give them a convincing evidence of his being. And if he be (as they are told he is)

« PoprzedniaDalej »