Page images

“ house to kindle their candle, and espying “ there a glaring fire, sit down upon the “ hearth, and warm themselves all day, and “ forget their errand; and in the mean time “ their own fires are not lighted, nor their “ families instructed or provided for, nor any "need served, but a lazy pleasure which is “ useless and impudent. Hearing or reading “ Sermons, is, or ought to be, in order to “ practice; for so God intended it, that

Faith should come by Hearing,' and that “ charity should come by faith, and by both “ together we may be saved : for a man's ears “ (as Plutarch calls them) are virtutum ansce, “ by them we are to hold and apprehend “ virtue; and unless we use them as men do “ vessels of dishonour,'filling them with “ things fit to be thrown away, with any thing “ that is not necessary, we are by them more “ nearly brought to God than by all the senses “ beside. For although things placed before " the eye affect the mind more readily than “the things we usually hear ; yet the reason .“ of that is, because we hear carelessly, and “ we hear variety: the same species dwells “ upon the eye, and represents the same “ object in union and single representment ; " but the objects of the ear are broken into

* fragments of periods, and words and sylla“ bles, and must be attended with a careful “ understanding: and because every thing “ diverts the sound, and every thing calls “ off the understanding, and the spirit of “ a man is truantly and trifling; therefore it « is, that what men hear does so little affect " them, and so weakly work towards the “purposes of virtue : and yet nothing does “ so affect the mind of man as those voices " to which we cannot chuse but attend; and “ thunder and all loud voices from Heaven Krend the most stony heart, and make the “most obstinate pay to God the homage of “ trembling and fear; and the still voice of “ God usually takes the tribute of love, and “ choice, and obedience. Now since hearing “ is so effective an instrument of conveying “ impresses and images of things, and exciting “ purposes, and fixing resolutions (unless we “ hear weakly and imperfectly); it will be of " the greater concernment that we be curious s to hear in order to such purposes which are “ perfective of the soul and of the spirit, and “ not to dwell in fancy and speculation, in “ pleasures and trifling arrests, which con“ tinue the soul in its infancy and childhood, “ never letting it go forth into the wisdom

« and virtues of a man. I have read concern* ing Dionysius of Sicily, that being delighted

extremely with a minstrel that sung well, “ and struck his harp dextrously, he promised “ to give him a great reward; and that raised “ the fancy of the man and made him play “ better. But when the music was done, and “ the man waited for his great hope, the King “ dismissed him empty, telling him that he “ should carry away as much of the promised “ reward as himself did of the music, and “ that he had paid him sufficiently with the “ pleasure of the promise for the pleasure of " the song: both their ears had been equally “ delighted, and the profit just none at all. “ So it is in many men's hearing sermons : “ they admire the preacher, and he pleases « their ears, and neither of them both bear “ along with them any good; and the hearer “ hath as little good by the sermon, as the * preacher, by the air of the people's breath, “ when they make a noise, and admire, and «. understand not. And that also is a second “ caution I desire all men would take. rs SE

It ca di un **on** “ That they may never trouble the affairs “ of preaching and hearing respectively, with “ admiring the person of any man. To

" admire a preacher is such a reward of his “ pains and worth, as if you should crown a “ conqueror with a garland of roses, or a bride “ with laurel, it is an undecency, it is no part “ of tlię reward which could be intended for “ him. For though it be a good-natured folly, “ yet it hath in it much danger : For by that " means the preacher may lead his hearers “ captive, and make them servants of a fac" tion, or of a lust; it makes them so much " the less to be servants of Christ, by how “ much they call any man master upon “ earth;' it weakens the heart and hands of “ others; it places themselves in a rank much "libelow their proper station, changing from “hearing the word of God,' to admiration “ of the persons and faces of men;' and it “ being a fault that falls upon the more easy “ natures and softer understandings, does “ more easily abuse a man. And though " such a person may have the good fortune

to admire a good man and a wise; yet it is « an ill disposition, and makes him liable to « every man's abuse. Stupidum hominem quáris oratione percelli,' said Heraclitus ; “ an undiscerning person is apt to be cozened “ by every oration. And besides this, that “preacher whom some do admire, others will “ most certainly envy, and that also is to be

provided against with : diligence : and you 9 must not admire too forwardly, for your 11 own sake, lest you fall into the hands of a 46 worse preacher; and for his sake, whomi " when you admire, you also love, for others

will be apt to envy him. ji ni zilisi. PIU is id !.. visst:;*'*, id x,*n,"I w But that must by all men be avoided, for Henvy is the worst counsellor in the world, " and the worst hearer of a wise discourse. I “pity those men who live upon flattery and Lowonder, cand while they sit at the foot of the si doctor's chair, stare in his face, and 'cry,

expofiwsi di pega ao pixor box ! rarely spoken, " admirablycdone! They are like callow and "unfeathered birds, gaping perpetually to be “ fed from another's mouth, and they never "come to the knowledge of the truth;t such

a knowledge as is effective, and expressed “in a prudent and holy life. But those men

that envy, the preacher, (besides that they Stare great enemies of the Holy Ghost, and " are spitefully evil becauses God is good to " him, they are alsoillenemies to themselves. • He thatcienvies the honours or the riches of

[merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »