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May what hath been said, conduce to the Confirmation of your Faith, to' the clearing of your Thoughts, to the removing of your Doubts, if any such be, and therein to the Glory of the eternal and ever-blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three Persons and one God. To whom be ascribed all Honour, Might , Majesty, Dominion and Adoration, hence, forth and for evermore.
On the oth of June, 1689, at Lama
ESTHER V. 13.
MONG all the Errors and false Per. suasions to which Man in this mor
tal State is subject, none are more dangerous, and at the same time more common, than those relating to the Happiness of his Nature. All the rational Parts of the Creation propose to themselves, and the irrational Part are directed by their Creator to some supreme End. The more ignoble Part fail not to obtain their End, being directed by an infallible Hand; while Man, the most noble Part of the visible Creation, miscarrieth in the Acquisition of it. It is a rational Soul, capacious Faculties, and the uncontrouled Use of a Free, will, which bestow on Man a Possibility of bcing truly Happy: Yet such is the Mif
fortune of Mankind, that even these are the Occasion of his Fall and Miscarriage. He sets the Faculties of his Soul on Work to invent new Methods of Happiness; he runs through all the pleasures, whether of Sense or Reason, of which his Nature is capable ; he fixeth his Desire upon those which most of all strike his Imagination, or gratify his Senses; he applieth himself to obtain them by the Use of his Free-will: When he hath discovered the Vanity and Upsatisfactoriness of one End, he invents another: He grows wanton in his Desires, and the more he indulgeth his roying Thoughts, the farther he is remoyed from the Possession of his true End.
A miserable Calamity indeed, that Man alone should miscarry in his fupreme End; yet a Calamity which cannot be denied; a Calamity which hath involved the far
great, er Part of Mankind, who know no other End than what is terminated in this Life, seek no other Happiness than what ariseth from the Report of their Senses, and expireth with them. Many have indeed, by the Excellency of their Thoughts, rescued themselves from this common Calamity, and all Christians are by the Benefit of Re. velation delivered from it: They know a better and more lasting Happiness; they are not unacquainted with the supreme End of their Nature; yet by a miserable Corruption of Judgment they are betrayed to neg.
lect this End, to stifle their knowledge, and over-rule the Convictions of their own Minds.
This ariseth from an unjust Ésteem of Corporeal and Temporal Happiness, which recommending it self to the Soul of Man by the Impression of Sense, diverteth it from the Consideration of a better and more noble End, taketh Root in his Imagination, raiseth his Passions, and by their Assistance continuerhits Possession. No. thing therefore will conduce more to the retrieving a just Conception of real Happi. ness, to rectify the Thoughts, and secure the End of Man, than to obviate the Deo ceitfulness, to defeat the Delusions of fen. sual and temporal Happiness; by manifesting how unsatisfactory it is in its own Nature, how unable to fill the capacious Faculties of our Souls, how yain and trifling, how unworthy our Study and Desire. This will effectually persuade us to raise our Thoughts, and apply our utmost Diligence to the Acquisition of a more noble End: When we shall be convinced of the Insuffi. ciency of that End, which withdraws us from the Pursuit of the other, when we Thall perceive that no real Happiness will arise from thence; that however it may flatter the Sense, and please the Imagination, it will fill no one Faculty of the Soul.
To effect this Conviction therefore, the Scripture makes Use of various Arguments;
the uncertainty of Life, the mutability of Fortune, the loss of an eternal Reward, forfeited by a blind pursuit of worldly Happiness; the Vanity of it when obtained; the miserable Consequences of it when expired; but above all, the Examples of worldly Men, who after they had obtained all which they could desire in this Life, rested unfatisfied, or became unhappy; were divested of their Felicity, and reduced to Misery; or amidst all their Enjoyments, by a conviction of Judgment, which they could not resist, declared and confessed the Emptiness and Vanity of that Felicity, which themselyes had so much courted, and others so much admir’d.
An eminent Instance of this, is that of Haman in my Text, who, amidst all his Honours and Titles, his Wealth, and the Favours of his Prince, amidst all the Pleasures which this Life can receive, convinced by undeniable experience, confess’d, that all this availed him nothing. That both these Confiderations therefore, both the nature of the Thing, and the evidence of Experience confirming it, may be useful to us, I will proceed upon these two Heads.
1. The Example of Haman, confessing, that all the Satisfaction of this Life a. vailed him nothing.