« PreviousContinue »
“ But the weakness of the flesh, and the " empire of Desire' is visible in nothing so “much, as in the captivity and folly of wise “ men. For you shall see some men fit to govern “ a province, sober in their counsels, wise in “ the conduct of their affairs, men of dis“course and reason, fit to sit with princes, or “ to treat concerning peace and war, the fate “ of empires and the changes of the world; " yet these men shall fall at the beauty of a “ woman, as a man dies of the blow of an “ angel, or gives up his breath at the sentence " and decree of God. Is it not necessary, " that we take in auxiliaries from reason and “religion, from heaven and earth, from ob“servation and experience, from hope and “ fear, and cease to be what we are, lest we “ become what we ought not ? It is certain “ that in the cases of temptations to voluptu"ousness, a man is naturally, as the prophet " said of Ephraim, like a pigeon that hath no “heart, no courage, no conduct, no resolu
tion, no discourse, but falls as the water of “ Nilus when it comes to its cataracts, it falls “ infinitely and without restraint." . .
The twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth ser.
.!! The Flesh and the Spirit, p.69.
mons comprehend the subject of « Luke. “ warmness and Zeal; or spiritual Fervour ;" and are grounded upon the forty-eighth chapter of the Prophecy of Jeremiah and tenth verse. After having touched upon the subject of Christ's kingdom, both as it will be, and as it is at present, and shewn that the religion our Saviour taught was a spiritual religion; he divides his discourse into three main branches : - First he demonstrates that God requires us to serve him with an entire worship and religion; next, that this service is to be performed with earnest and intense affection; the whole purpose of which the preacher represents by several propositions; and he concludes, by considering zeal both in its due measure, and in its excess.
« However it be very easy to have our * thoughts wander, yet it is our indiffer" ency and lukewarmness that makes it so “ natural: and you may observe it, that as long “ as the light shines bright, and the fires of “ devotion and desires flame out, so long the “ mind of man stands close to the altar, and “ waits upon the sacrifice; but as the fires die « and desires decay, so the mind steals away “ and walks abroad to see the little images
* of beauty and pleasure, which it beholds “ in the falling stars and little glow-worms of “ the world. The river that runs slow and “ creeps by the banks, and begs leave of every s turf to let it pass, is drawn into little hol. “ lownesses, and spends itself in small por. “ tions, and dies with diversion ; but when it “ runs with vigorousness and a full stream, " and breaks down every obstacle, making it “ even as its own brow, it stays not to be “tempted with little avocations, and to creep * into holes, but runs into the sea through " full and useful channels; so is a man's “ prayer, if it move upon the feet of an & abated appetite, it wanders into the society " of every trifling accident, and stays at the « corners of the fancy, and talks with every “ object it meets, and cannot arrive at hea. “ ven; but when it is carried upon the wings « of passion and strong desires, a swift mo. “tion and a hungry appetite, it passes on « through all the intermedial region of “ clouds, and stays not till it dwells at the “ foot of the throne, where mercy sits, and " thence sends holy showers of refreshment. “ I deny not but some little drops will turn “ aside, and fall from the full channel by the " weakness of the banks, and hollowness of “ the passage ; but the main course is still “ continued : and althougth the most earnest " and devout persons feel and complain of “some looseness of spirit, and unfixed atten. “ tions, yet their love and their desire secure “the main portions, and make the prayer to “ be strong, fervent and effectual."'m .
“ To that fervour and zeal which is neces. 6 sary and a duty, it is required that we be “ constant and persevering. • Esto fidelis ad « mortem,' said the Spirit of God to the angel “ of the church of Smyrna. Be faithful unto « death, and I will give thee a crown of life.' “ For he that is warm to day and cold to “ morrow, zealous in his religion and weary “ in his practices, fierce in the beginning, and “ slack and easy in his progress, hath not yet “ well chosen what side he will be of; he sees “ not reason enough for religion, and he hath “ not confidence enough for its contrary; " and therefore he is duplicis animi,' as “ St. James calls him, of doubtful mind. For “ religion is worth as much to day as yester“ day, and that cannot change though we do ; “ and if we do, we have left God, and whither
* Serm. Lukewarmness and Zeal, Serm. 13. p. 94.
“ he can go that goes from God, his own “ sorrows will soon enough instruct him. “ This fire must never go out, but it must be “ like the fire of heaven, it must shine like " the stars, though sometimes covered with a “ cloud, or obscured by a greater light; yet, “ they dwell for ever in their orbs, and walk “ in their circles, and observe their circum“stances, but go not out by day nor night, " and set not when kings die, nor are ex
tinguished when nations change their go
vernments. So must the zeal of a Christian “ be, a constant incentive of his duty, and “ though sometimes his hand is drawn back “ by violence or need, and his prayers short“ened by the importunity of holiness, and “ some parts omitted by necessities, and just “ compliances, yet still the fire is kept alive; “ it burns within when the light breaks not “ forth, and is eternal as the orb of fire, or “ the embers of the altar of incense."
The discourse on “ the House of Feasting: “ or, the Epicure's. Measures," is divided into two parts, and is drawn from the consia deration of the fifteenth chapter of the first