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punity, by privacy and a guard; what would his nature do in this throng of evils and vile circumstances ? The grace of God secured the young gentleman, and the spirit rode in triumph ; but what can flesh do in such a day of danger ? Is it not necessary, that we take in auxiliaries from reason and religion, from heaven and earth, from observation 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 voluptuousness, a man is naturally, as the prophet said of Ephraim, like a pigeon that hath no heart, no courage, no conduct, no resolution, no discourse, but falls as the water of Nilus when it comes to its cataracts, --it falls infinitely and without restraint: and if we consider, how many drunken meetings the sun sees every day, how many markets, and fairs, and clubs, that is, so many solemnities of drunkenness are at this instant under the eye of heaven, that many nations are marked for intemperance, and that it is less noted because it is so popular, and universal, and that even in the midst of the glories of Christianity there are so many persons drunk, or too full with meat, or greedy of lust; even now that the Spirit of God is given to us to make us sober, and temperate, and chaste,—we may well imagine, since all men have flesh, and all men have not the Spirit, the flesh is the parent of sin and death and it can be nothing else.
2. And it is no otherwise, when we are tempted with pain. We are so impatient of pain, that nothing can reconcile us to it; not the laws of God, not the necessities of nature, not the society of all our kindred, and of all the world, not the interest of virtue, not the hopes of heaven; we will submit to pain upon no terms, but the basest and most dishonourable; for if sin bring us to pain, or affront, or sickness, we choose that, so it be in the retinue of a lust, and a base desire; but we accuse nature, and blaspheme God, we murmur and are impatient, when pain is sent to us from him, that ought to send it, and intends it as a mercy, when it comes. But in the matter of afflictions and bodily sickness, we are so weak and broken, so uneasy and unapt to sufferance, that this alone is beyond the cure of the old philosophy. Many can endure poverty, and many can retire from shame and laugh at home, and very many can endure to be slaves; but when pain and sharpness are to be endured
for the interests of virtue, we find but few martyrs; and they that are, suffer more within themselves by their fears and their temptations, by their uncertain purposes and violence to nature, than the hangman's sword; the martyrdom is within; and then he hath won his crown, not when he hath suffered the blow, but when he hath overcome his fears, and made his spirit conqueror. It was a sad instance of our infirmity, when of the forty martyrs of Cappadocia, set in a freezing lake, almost consummate, and an angel was reaching the crown, and placing it upon their brows, the flesh failed one of them, and drew the spirit after it; and the man was called off from his scene of noble contention, and died in warm water :
Odi artus, fragilemque hunc corporis usum
We carry about us the body of death, and we bring evils upon ourselves by our follies, and then know not how to bear them; and the flesh forsakes the spirit. And, indeed, in şickness the infirmity is so very great, that God in a manner at that time hath reduced all religion into one virtue; patience with its appendages is the sum total of almost all our duty, that is proper to the days of sorrow : and we shall find it enough to entertain all our powers, and to employ all our aids; the counsels of wise men and the comforts of our friends, the advices of Scripture and the results of experience, the graces of God, and the strength of our own resolutions, are all then full of employments, and find it work enough to secure that one grace. For then it is, that a cloud is wrapped about our heads, and our reason stoops under sorrow; the soul is sad, and its instrument is out of tune; the auxiliaries are disordered, and every thought sits heavily; then a comfort cannot make the body feel it, and the soul is not so abstracted to rejoice much without its partner; so that the proper joys of the soul,--such as are hope, and wise discourses, and satisfactions of reason, and the offices of religion,—are felt, just as we now perceive the joys of heaven, with so little relish, that it comes as news of a victory to a man upon the rack, or the birth of an heir to one condemned to die; he hears a story, which was made to delight him, but it came when he was dead to joy, and all
its capacities; and, therefore, sickness, though it be a good monitor, yet it is an ill stage to act some virtues in; and a good man cannot then do much; and therefore, he that is in a state of flesh and blood, can do nothing at all.
But in these considerations we find our nature in disadvantages; and a strong man may be overcome, when a stronger comes to disarm him; and pleasure and pain are the violences of choice and chance; but it is no better in any thing else: for nature is weak in all its strengths, and in its fights, at home and abroad, in its actions and passions; we love some things violently, and hate others unreasonably; any thing can fright us, when we would be confident, and nothing can scare us when we ought to fear; the breaking of a glass puts us into a supreme anger, and we are dull and indifferent as a stoic when we see God dishonoured; we passionately desire our preservation, and yet we violently destroy ourselves, and will not be hindered; we cannot deny a friend, when he tempts us to sin and death, and yet we daily deny God, when he passionately invites us to life and health ; we are greedy after money, and yet spend it vainly upon our lusts ; we hate to see any man flattered but ourselves, and we can endure folly, if it be on our side, and a sin for our interest; we desire health, and yet we exchange it for wine and madness; we sink when a persecution comes, and yet cease not daily to persecute ourselves, doing mischiefs worse than the sword of
tyrants, and great as the malice of a devil.
But to sum up all the evils that can be spoken of the infirmities of the flesh; the proper nature and habitudes of men are so foolish and impotent, so averse and peevish to all good, that a man's will is of itself only free to choose evils. Neither is it a contradiction to say liberty, and yet suppose it determined to one object only; because that one object is the thing we choose. For although God hath set life and death before us, fire and water, good and evil, and hath primarily put man into the hands of his own counsel, that he might have chosen good as well as evil; yet because he did not, but fell into an evil condition and corrupted manners, and grew in love with it, and infected all his children with vicious examples; and all nations of the world have contracted some universal stains, and “ the thoughts of men's hearts are only evil, and that continually,” and “there is not one that doth
good, no, not one that sinneth not :” since (I say) all the world have sinned, we cannot suppose a liberty of indifferency to good and bad; it is impossible in such a liberty, that there should be no variety, that all should choose the same thing; but a liberty of complacency or delight we may suppose; that is so, that though naturally he might choose good, yet morally he is so determined with his love to evil, that good seldom comes into dispute; and a man runs to evil as he runs to meat or sleep; for why else should it be, that every one can teach a child to be proud, or to swear, to lie, or to do little spites to his playfellow, and can train him up to infant-follies? But the severity of tutors, and the care of parents, discipline and watchfulness, arts and diligence, all is too little to make him love but to say his prayers, or to do that, which becomes persons designed for honest purposes, and his malice shall outrun his years; he shall be a man in villany, before he is by law capable of choice or inheritance; and this indisposition lasts upon us for ever; even as long as we live, just in the same degrees as flesh and blood do rule us : Σώματος μεν γαρ άρρωστίαν ιάται τέχνη, ψυχής δε νόσημα ιατρός ιάται θάνατος. . “ Art of physicians can cure the evils of the body, but this strange propensity to evil nothing can cure but death ;" the
of God eases the malignity here, but it cannot be cured but by glory: that is, this freedom of delight, or perfect unabated election of evil, which is consequent to the evil manners of the world, although it be lessened by the intermedial state of grace, yet it is not cured until it be changed into its quite contrary; but as it is in heaven, all that is happy, and glorious, and free, yet can choose nothing but the love of God, and excellent things, because God fills all the capacities of saints, and there is nothing without him that hath any degrees of amiability: so in the state of nature, of flesh and blood; there is so much ignorance of spiritual excellences, and so much proportion to sensual objects, which in most instances and in many degrees are prohibited, that, as men naturally know no good, but to please a wild, undetermined, infinite appetite, so they will nothing else but what is good in their limit and proportion; and it is with us as it was with the shegoat that suckled the wolf's whelp ; he grew up by his nurse's milk, and at last having forgot his foster-mother's
kindness, ate that udder which gave him drink and nourishment:
Improbitas nullo flectitur obsequio; For no kindness will, cure an ill-nature and a base disposition : so are we in the first constitution of our nature; so perfectly given to natural vices, that by degrees we degenerate into unnatural, and no education or power of art can make us choose wisely or honestly: 'Eyw di utav süyéVEICON cida Foly ágerov, said Phalaris; “ There is no good nature but only virtue :” till we are new created, we are wolves and serpents, free and delighted in the choice of evil, but stones and iron to all excellent things and purposes.
2. Next I am to consider the weakness of the flesh, even when the state is changed, 'in the beginning of the state of grace: for many persons, as soon as the grace of God rises in their hearts, are all on fire, and inflamed; it is with them as Homer said of the Sirian star.
Λαμαρότατος μιν όγ' έστι, κακόν δέ τι σήμα σίτυκται,
30. • It shines finely, and brings fevers ;' splendour and zeal are the effects of the first grace, and sometimes the first turns into pride, and the second into uncharitableness; and either by too dull and slow motions, or by too violent and unequal, the flesh will make pretences, and too often prevail upon the spirit, even after the grace of God hath set up its banners in our hearts.
1. In some dispositions that are forward and apt, busy and unquiet, when the grace of God hath taken possession, and begins to give laws, it seems so pleasant and gay to their undiscerning spirits to be delivered from the sottishness of lust, and the follies of drunkenness, that, reflecting upon the change, they begin to love themselves too well, and take delight in the wisdom of the change, and the reasonableness of the new life; and then they, hating their own follies, begin to despise them that dwell below; it was the trick of the old philosophers whom Aristophanes (Nub. 103.) thus describes, τους αλαζόνας, Τους ώχριώντας, τους ανυποδήτους λέysise "pale, and barefoct, and proud;" that is, persons singular in their habit, eminent in their institution, proud and pleased in their persons, and despisers of them that are less glorious