« PreviousContinue »
Indeed, they cannot longer dwell upon the estate, but that remains unrifled, and descends upon their heir, and all is well till the next generation : but if the evil of his death, and the change of his present prosperity, for an intolerable danger of an uncertain eternity, does not sour his full chalice ; yet if his children prove vicious or degenerous, cursed or unprosperous, we account the man miserable, and his grave to be strewed with sorrows and dishonours. The wise and valiant Chabrias grew miserable by the folly of his son Ctesippus; and the reputation of brave Germanicus began to be ashamed, when the base Caligula entered upon his scene of dishonourable crime. Commodus, the wanton and feminine son of wise Antoninus, gave a check to the great name of his father ; and when the son of Hortensius Corbio was prostitute, and the heir of Q. Fabius Maximus was disinherited by the sentence of the city prætor, as being unworthy to enter into the fields of his glorious father, and young Scipio the son of Africanus was a fool and a prodigal ; prosperity did weep afresh over the monuments of their brave progenitors, and found that infelicity can pursue a man, and overtake him in
This is a great calamity when it falls upon innocent persons: and that Moses died upon Mount Nebo, in the sight of Canaan, was not so great an evil, as that his sons Eliezer and Gerson were unworthy to succeed him; but that priesthood was devolved to his brother, and the principality to his servant: and to Samuel, that his sons proved corrupt, and were exauthorated for their unworthiness, was an allay to his honour and his joys, and such as proclaims to all the world, that the measures of our felicity are not to be taken by the lines of our own person, but of our relations too; and he that is cursed in his children, cannot be reckoned among the fortunate.
This which I have discoursed concerning families in general, is most remarkable in the retinue and family of sin; for it keeps a good house, and is fullof company and servants, it is served by the possessions of the world, it is courted by the unhappy, flattered by fools, taken into the bosom by the effeminate, made the end of human designs, and feasted all the way of its progress ; wars are made for its interest, and men give or venture their lives that their sin may be prosper
ous; all the outward senses are its handmaids, and the in, ward senses are of its privy-chamber ; the understanding is its counsellor, the will its friend, riches are its ministers, nature holds up its train, and art is its emissary to promote its interest and affairs abroad : and, upon this account, all the world is enrolled in its taxing-tables, and are subjects or friends of its kingdom, or are so kind to it as to make too often visits, and to lodge in its borders; because all men stare upon its pleasures, and are enticed to taste of its wanton delicacieş. But then if we look what are the children of this splendid family, and see what issue sin produces, šosi våg rérya rai rõde, -it may help to untie the charm. Sin and concupiscence marry together, and riot and feast it high, but their fruits, the children and production of their filthy union, are ugly and deformed, foolish and ill-natured; and the Apostle calls them by their name, shame' and death.' These are the fruits of sin, the apples of Sodom,' fair outsides, but if you touch them, they turn to ashes and a stink; and if you will nurse these children, and give them whatsoever is dear to you, then you may be admitted into the house of feasting, and chambers of riot where sin dwells; but if you will have the mother, you must have the daughters; the tree and the fruits go together; and there is none of you all that ever entered into this house of pleasure, but he left the skirts of his garment in the hands of shame, and had his name rolled in the chambers of death. “What fruit had ye then ?" That is the question.
In answer to which question we are to consider, 1. What is the sum total of the pleasure of sin ? 2. What fruits and relishes it leaves behind by its natural efficiency? 3. What are its consequents by its demerit, and the infliction of the superadded wrath of God, which it hath deserved? Of the first St. Paul gives no account ; but by way of upbraiding asks, what they had ?' that is, nothing that they dare own, nothing that remains : and where is it? show it; what is become of it?
of the second he gives the sum total : all its natural effects are shame and its appendages. The third, or the superinduced evils by the just wrath of God, he calls • death, the worst name in itself, and the greatest of evils that can happen. 1. Let us consider what pleasures there are in sin; most
of them are very punishments. I will not reckon or consider concerning envy, which one in Stobæus* calls ráxico xqòıxáratov Ssov, “the basest spirit, and yet very just;” because it punishes the delinquent in the very act of sin, doing as Ælian says of the polypus, είτις αυτώ γένοιται αθηρία, των εαυτού πλοnáuw magérpays, “ when he wants his prey, he devours his own arms; (i. 27.)" and the leanness, and the secret pangs, and the perpetual restlessness of an envious man, feed upon his own heart, and drink down his spirits, unless he can ruin or observe the fall of the fairest fortunes of his neighbour. The fruits of this tree are mingled and sour, and not to be endured in the very eating. Neither will I reckon the horrid affrightments and amazements of murder, nor the uneasiness of im patience, which doubles every evil that it feels, and makes it a sin, and makes it intolerable ; nor the secret grievings, and continual troubles of peevishness, which makes a man incapable of receiving good, or delighting in beauties and fair entreaties in the mercies of God and charities of men. • It were easy to make a catalogue of sins, every one of which is a disease, a trouble in its very constitution and its nature : such are loathing of spiritual things, bitterness of spirit, rage, greediness, confusion of mind, and irresolution, cruelty and despite, slothfulness and distrust, unquietness and anger, effeminacy and niceness, prating and sloth, ignorance and inconstancy, incogitancy and cursing, malignity and fear, forgetfulness and rashness, pusillanimity and despair, rancour and superstition : if a man were to curse his enemy, he could not wish him a greater evil than these : and yet these are several kinds of sin which men choose, and give all their hopes of heaven in exchange for one of these diseases. Is it not a fearful consideration, that a man should rather choose eternally to perish than to say his prayers heartily, and affectionately ? but so it is with very many men ; they are driven to their devotions by custom, and shame, and reputation, and civil compliances ; they sigh and look sour when they are called to it, and abide there as a man under the chirurgeon's hands, smarting and fretting all the while; or else he passes the time with incogitancy, and hates the employment, and suffers the torment of prayers which he loves not; and all this, although for so doing it is certain
• Florileg. tit. 38.
be may perish : what fruit, what deliciousness, can he fancy in being weary of his prayers ? there is no pretence or colour for these things. Can any man imagine a greater evil to the body and soul of a man than madness, and furious eyes, and a distracted look, paleness with passion, and trembling hands and knees, and furiousness, and folly in the heart and head? and yet this is the pleasure of anger, and for this pleasure men choose damnation. But it is a great truth, that there are but very few sins that pretend to pleasure: although a man be weak and soon deceived, and the devil is crafty, and sin is false and impudent, and pretences are too many,--yet most kinds of sins are real and prime troubles to the very body, without all manner of deliciousness, even to the sensual, natural, and carnal part; and a man must put on something of a devil before he can choose such sins, and he must love mischief because it is a sin ; for in most instances there is no other reason in the world. Nothing pretends to pleasure but the last of the lower belly, ambition, and revenge ; and although the catalogue of sins is numerous as the production of fishes, yet these three only can be apt to cozen us with a fair outside; and yet upon the survey of what fruits they bring, and what taste they have in the manducation, besides the filthy relish they leave behind, we shall see how miserable they are abused and fooled, that expend any thing upon such purchases.
2. For a man cannot take pleasure in lusts of the flesh, in gluttony, or drunkenness, unless he be helped forward with inconsideration and folly. For we see it evidently that grave and wise persons, men of experience and consideration, are extremely less affected with lust and loves than the harebrained boy; the young gentleman that thinks nothing in the world greater than to be free from a tutor, he indeed courts his folly, and enters into the possession of lust without abatement; consideration dwells not there: but when a sober man meets with a temptation, and is helped by his natural temper, or invited by his course of life; if he can consider, he hath so many objections and fears, so many difficulties and impediments, such sharp reasonings and sharper jealousies concerning its event, that if he does at all enter into folly, it pleases him so little, that he is forced to do it in despite of himself; and the pleasure is so allayed, that he
knows not whether it be wine or vinegar; his very apprehen: sion and instruments of relish are filled with fear and contradicting principles, and the deliciousness does but affricare cutem, it went · but to the skin ;' but the allay went farther; it kept a guard within, and suffered the pleasure to pass no farther. A man must resolve to be a fool, a rash inconsiderate person, or he will feel but little satisfaction in the enjoyment of his sin : indeed, he that stops his nose, may drink down such corrupted waters; and he understood it well who chose rather to be a fool,
Dum mea delectent mala me, vel denique fallant,
so that his sins might delight him, or deceive him, than to be wise and without pleasure in the enjoyment. So that in effect a man must lose his discerning faculties before he discerns the little fantastic joys of his concupiscence; which demonstrates how vain, how empty of pleasure that is, that is beholden to folly and illusion, to a juggling and a plain cozenage, before it can be fancied to be pleasant. For it is a strange beauty that he that hath the best eyes, cannot perceive, and none but the blind or blear-eyed people can see; and such is the pleasure of lust, which, by every degree of wisdom that a man hath, is lessened and undervalued.
3. For the pleasures of intemperance, they are nothing but the relics and images of pleasure, after that nature hath been feasted ; for so long as she needs, that is, so long as temperance waits, so long pleasure also stands there ; but as temperance begins to go away, having done the ministries of nature, every morsel, and every new goblet, is still less delicious, and cannot be endured but as men force Dature by violence to stay longer than she would : how have some men rejoiced when they have escaped a cup! and when they cannot escape, they pour it in, and receive it with as much pleasure as the old women have in the Lapland dances; they dance the round, but there is a horror and a harshness in the music; and they call it pleasure, because men bid them do so: but there is a devil in the company, and such as is his pleasure, such is theirs : he rejoices in the thriving sin, and the swelling fortune of his darling drunkenness, but his joys are the joys of him that knows and always remembers, that