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while you are not wholly destitute of deeds of almsgiving, you seek not to be in a capacity to abound in them, as you might and ought. If
it be not in your heart to deny yourself many things, that you may have the more to bestow; if you have not the wants of your brethren habitually as your concern; you may see the want of mercy, and consequently the influence of sel
I might further observe the same respecting lending, for a small sum lent is often a great charity. Covet ousness hates to hazard a penny: the payment must be secured before the purse-strings open, whatever be the call: "go and come again, and to-morrow I will lend," says thy selfish heart, "when thou hast it by thee." The tricks, evasions, and castings-about of the covetous are indeed endless; and oftentimes the greatest oppressions are countenanced under the shew of friendship and kindness. But what hath been said will serve to shew what our hearts naturally are, and what in too many they continue to be; and must be in all, if preventing, restraining, converting grace doth not keep within bounds the stream of corruption, or dry up its fountain.
II. The fleshly lusts which dwell within us, shew the "desperate wickedness of our hearts." Lawless appetite hath now seized the reins, and hurries on the body to sensual gratifications. By indolence and excess provision is made for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof; and as the effect, impurity follows in thought, in word and actions.
1. Indolence the flesh delights in. Labour and diligence iare ts aversion; though since the fall expressly enjoined us. But in general labour we must. The world produces nought but briars and thorns till subdued by the sweat of the brow. Though a few by the possession of affluence be
come in some measure exempted from labour, the far greater part must work before they eat : yet the love of idolence will appear the same in the one as in the other. The morning comes, with what reluctance do you rise? It is too soon, it is too cold, saith every man's natural sloth. "A little more sleep, a little more slumber, a little more folding of the hands to sleep ;" (Prov. xxiv. 33.) necessity urges you to rise: but the same. temper follows you; "the fool foldeth his hands together" (Eccles. iv. 5.) any little excuse is easily seized to suspend your diligence, and trifle away your time. And when you do work, you often feel the thought, "what a weariness is it?" "I wish I had enough to live upon, I would then sit down at my ease. If you have seen others, whose affluence hath been construed into a prescription for idleness, have you not envied them as more happy than yourself? And in other points you will find the sluggard still in your work, not doing it with all your might; an eye-servant, a loiterer; lengthening the intervals of leisure allowed you, or returning with reluctance to your task. Or if every nerve is straining, and you are labouring night and day to gain; pray what is at the bottom of all this? Why usually an intention to be idle at the last, and spend the end of your life in pleasing indolence, when you can say to your soul, "Soul, thou hast much goods. laid up for many years, take thine ease; eat, drink and be merry." (Luke xii. 19.)
In the superior rank of life this temper seems uncontrouled, except where ambition interferes. What is usually the life of the great and the affluent, but varied scenes of pleasure, calculated merely to gratify indolence? Amusements, cards, &c. visits, sleep, sauntering, eating or drinking, or some insignificant work (which may be bet
ter called play) these take up all their time; and to morrow is only a repetition of the sloth of to day. The rich cannot be at the pains to superintend their own accounts. The Dignitary in the church fills his stall at his ease, and devolves the drudgery of prayer and preaching to some needy substitute. Labour is the general aversion; whilst every thing that can gratify indolence is contrived and purchased at any expence.
It is from this temper that, though we so often hear every body complaining of the badness of the times, we can find so few willing to exert themselves to restrain it. The magistrate, the minister, the people, care not to trouble themselves; the law lies dormant, zeal is extinguished, and sloth sheds its soporiferous influences all around,
2. Excess follows close on the heels of indolence. They mutually minister to each other. Meat, drink and sleep are what the natural man lusts after, not merely to sustain nature, but to pamper it not to satisfy its just demands, but to gratify its inordinate appetites.
The niceness and curiousness of the affluent, where eating is among the grand concerns of life, is pretty evident. The high sauces, ragouts, and strange inventions of the pimps of luxury, to provoke the desire of eating beyond the demands of hunger, and the universal readiness of all to partake of such incentives, shew by what beastial appetites we are governed. Thus on one table the four quarters of the globe shall be ransacked for turtle, and ortolans, and spices and desert, at an expence that would have provided for an hundred families of the needy; and, where circumstances forbid such daily indulgence, yet the same temper shews itself. Hath not a feast pleased you; and the prospect of its approach
been dwelt upon with delight? When some nice dish was brought on, was not your before palledappetite whetted anew? or did you not regret that it came in so late? Did you never take a pleasure in talking of the good eating you partook of or were going to ? Have you never oppressed nature till she sunk under the load? You will need only observe a Sunday evening's congregation to discover in it the gluttony of the poor, as much as in the habitual snoring on the soft couch after dinner of such as are daily more luxurious,
The desire of drinking, though perhaps not more common, is yet more taken notice of: What a thirst is there after liquor! The brute beast quenches his drought at the river, and is. 'satisfied; whilst the man who leads him thither drinks beyond reason when nature is no longer thirsty Hence, at the expence of health and strength and fortune, and every consideration that can be near or dear, we still see the drunk→ ard filling himself with strong drink ;" pouring in liquid fire, that he may thirst and drink, and thirst and drink again. But when men proceed not to these grosser excesses, and fashion or decency, or some such like motive withholds them, the heart still shows. its disposition, by the pleasure felt "when the liquor sparkles in the glass and moveth itself aright; (Proc. xxiii. 31.) by sitting long at the cups;" by taking what is called a cheerful glass; by customary indulgence after meals, through pretence of I know not what advantage to digestion, &c. and by frequenting needlessly places of public entertainment through, pleas. of business or company..
These symptoms shew the tendency of the heart
where grosser excesses may have been avoided.
Inordinate love of sleep comes under the head of sloth; long continuance of it belongs to excess. When a third part of your time or more is spent on your pillow; when a great deal of the day as well as the night is wasted on your bed; when you rise heavy, and not refreshed from your morning or mid-day slumbering; it can hardly be but that irregular appetite must have dominion over you. The body thus indulged is filled with the fuel of lust; and no marvel that it makes so many to be "like fed horses in the morning, every one neighing after his neighbour's wife.” (Jer. v. 8.)
3. Impurity is strongly the bent of man's natural heart. I will not enter into the grosser indulgences of it, which modesty bids rather to conceal than mention; but only hint at some of those more unnoticed instances of it, in which many lie the slaves of their vile and wicked hearts, without suspecting the dreadfulness of their state. Our fallen nature is full of lewdness: we need no other temptation but from within. "Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own heart's lusts and enticed." (James i. 14.) What corrupt imaginations rise up in the hearts of all from the days of their youth? How readily are they entertained, indulged, delighted in? especially when alone and on the bed of sloth? And where this is the case, how ready are you to please your eyes with some inflaming object? How prone to seek the snare, where you have felt evil desires excited? and to pursue, instead of avoiding the persons and pleasures whence Satan hath taken occasion to entangle you? These are the beginnings of lust: "Out of the heart proceed evil thought, & thence adulteries." (Matt.xv.19) The tongue will partake of the defilement that