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make choice to instance in the sin of uncleanness and fornication; a sin, that generally finds such excuse and patronage in the world, because it is supposed to be so naturally born and bred up with us, that there is no shaking it off; it is a sin so resolved upon to be unconquerable, that few men go about to restrain it. The ancient antidotes against this sin, watching and fasting, are grown out of use with us; we conclude they will do us little good against this hereditary evil, and therefore the best way is to give them clean


29. Yet I say, let me suppose an ordinary Christian, environed with all the strongest temptations to this so natural, and therefore concluded so excusable a sin; let him have the most charming beauty, that has the most artificial ways of solicitation, together with opportunity, and all circumstances which are not fit to be supposed here; yet for all this, if that man should say he is not able to resist such a temptation, he lies against his own soul: for if at that instant a sudden message should interrupt him, a threatening of death, if he did not free himself from the danger of her filthy embraces ; would he not do it? I desire only, that each one of you in his heart would answer for him. Then it is clear, he is able to resist this pretended irresistible temptation: and why should not the consideration of the danger of eternal torments be as persuasive against any sin, as the fear of a momentary death? But I will not make my advantage of so frightful an enemy to his pleasure as death. Suppose in all those circumstances beforementioned a good sum of money were but offered him, upon condition he would abstain but that time from the execution of his filthy lust; I doubt not at all but that upon these terms he would find strength enough to conquer this temptation. Shall Satan then

be able to cast out Satan, and shall not God much more do it? shall one sin be able to destroy the exercise of another, and shall not grace much rather?

30. Besides, if we believe that generally it is not in our power to resist any of these temptations; how dare you, who are fathers, suffer your daughters, after they are come to years, to live unmarried ? how dare you expose their souls to such dangers, unless you think that ordinarily any man or woman is able to resist the temptations of the flesh ? how dare you, who are merchants, for the hope of a little gain, live in foreign countries, as if you were divorced from your wives; if you religiously think that were it not for the benefit of marriage they could not ordinarily be honest?

31. Lastly, you may remember, that our Saviour (in his descriptions of hell) seldom leaves out this phrase, where the worm dieth not; which worm is generally by interpreters moralized into the sting of conscience, i.e. a continual vexation of soul in the reprobates, caused by the consideration, how it was merely their own fault, their wilful folly, which brought them to that misery. Now this worm would die, and be quite extinguished in them, if they were of some men's opinions; that the reason why they sinned was not because they would sin, but because they could not choose but to do it; because they wanted power to resist all the temptations which were objected to them. Such a conceit may serve indeed to vex them, but it is not possible it should trouble their conscience; for by this reason Corah, Dathan, and Abiram might with as good reason be tormented in conscience for falling into hell, when the earth opened under them, as for their sin of rebellion against Moses; if the reason why they committed that sin was the subtraction of divine grace and assistance, without which it was impossible for them not to be rebels. But indeed, why should Almighty God withdraw his grace from any man? Because (say some) by falling, they may experimentally learn their own weakness without his assistance, and so be discouraged from trusting or relying upon themselves. A strange reason no doubt: for as long as they have the grace of God, they will not rely upon themselves; and when they are destitute of his grace, they cannot rely upon him: so that it seems God takes away his grace from a man for this end, that wanting it, he may sin; and by that means, when he has got that grace again, he may perceive, that when he is destitute of God's grace, he cannot choose but sin; which was a thing which he knew at the first, without all this ado. But there may be a better reason given why God should

his grace from a man; and that is, because he negligently omits to make his best use of it, and so deserves that punishment. But this reason will satisfy as little as the former : for suppose, for example, a man at this instant in the state of grace, and so in the favour of God : upon these grounds, it is impossible that this man should ever sin; for surely God will not undeservedly take away his grace from him, till he merit that punishment by his sin; and till God take away his grace from him, he cannot sin; therefore he must never sin. But this discourse, though it merely concern practice, looks so like a controversy, that I am

take away

weary of it.

32. We are apt enough to slander God with too much mercy sometimes, as if he bore us so particular an affection, that notwithstanding our never so many sins, yet he will still be merciful unto us. Oh that we could conceive of his mercy and goodness aright! as rather willing to prevent our sins, by giving us sufficient preservatives against the committing them. I would to God, that instead of making subtle, scholastical disputes of the power and efficacy of God's grace, we would magnify the force thereof, by suffering it to exercise its sway in our lives and conversation; we should then easily find, that we are able to do all things through Christ that strengtheneth us.



1. A Conference betwixt Mr. Chillingworth and Mr.

Lewgar. Thesis. The church of Rome (taken diffusively for all Christians communicating with the bishop of Rome) was the judge of controversies at that time, when the church of England made an alteration in her tenets.

Argu. She was the judge of controversies at that time, which had an authority of deciding them : but the church of Rome at that time had the authority of deciding them : ergo.

Answ. A limited authority to decide controversies according to the rule of scripture and universal tradition, and to oblige her own members (so long as she evidently contradicted not that rule) to obedience, I grant she had; but an unlimited, an infallible authority, or such as could not but proceed according to that rule, and such as should bind all the cburches in the world to obedience, (as the Greek church,) I say she had not.

Quest. When our church hath decided a controversy, I desire to know whether any particular church or person hath authority to reexamine her decision, whether she hath observed her rule or no; and free themselves from the obedience of it by their particula judgment?

Answ. If you understand by your church the church

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