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of the Egyptian army, a fly can do it, when it goes on God's errand; the most contemptible accident can destroy him, the smallest chance affright him, every future contingency, when but considered as possible, can amaze him; and he is encompassed with potent and malicious enemies, subtle and implacable : what shall this poor helpless thing do? Trust in God ? him he hath offended, and he fears him as an enemy; and, God knows, if we look only on ourselves, and on our own demerits, we have too much reason so to do. Shall he rely upon princes ? God help poor kings; they rely upon their subjects, they fight with their swords, levy force with their money, consult with their counsels, hear with their ears, and are strong only in their union, and many times they use all these things against them; but, however, they can do nothing without them while they live, and yet if ever they can die, they are not to be trusted to. Now kings and princes die so sadly and notoriously, that it was used for a proverb in holy Scripture, “ Ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.” Whom then shall we trust in ? In our friend? Poor man ! he may help thee in one thing, and need thee in ten : he may pull thee out of the ditch, and his foot may slip and fall into it himself: he gives thee counsel to choose a wife, and himself is to seek how prudently to choose his religion: he counsels thee to abstain from a duel, and yet slays his own soul with drinking: like a person void of all understanding, he is willing enough to preserve thy interest, and is very careless of his own; for he does highly despise to betray or to be false to thee, and in the mean time is not his own friend, and is false to God; and then his friendship may be useful to thee in some circumstances of fortune, but no security to thy condition. But what then? shall we rely upon our patron, like the Roman clients, who waited hourly upon their persons, and daily upon their baskets, and nightly upon their lusts, and married their friendships, and contracted also their hatred and quarrels? this is a confidence will deceive us. may lay us by, justly or unjustly; they may grow weary of doing benefits, or their fortunes may change; or they may
be charitable in their gifts, and burdensome in their offices; able to feed you, but unable to counsel you ; or your need may be longer than their kindnesses, or such in which they can give you no assistance: and, indeed, generally, it is so, in all the
instances of men. We have a friend that is wise; but I need not his counsel, but his meat: or my patron is bountiful in his largesses; but I am troubled with a sad spirit; and money and presents do me no more ease than perfumes do to a broken arm. We seek life of a physician that dies, and go to him for health, who cannot cure his own breath or gout; and so become vain in our imaginations, abused in our hopes, restless in our passions, impatient in our calamity, unsupported in our need, exposed to enemies, wandering and wild, without counsel, and without remedy. At last, after the infatuating and deceiving all our confidences without, we have nothing left us but to return home, and dwell within ourselves : for we have a sufficient stock of self-love, that we may be confident of our own affections, we may trust ourselves surely; for what we want in skill we shall make up in diligence, and our industry shall supply the want of other circumstances : and no man understands my own case so well as I do myself, and no man will judge so faithfully as I shall do for myself; for I am most concerned not to abuse myself; and if I do, I shall be the loser, and therefore may best rely upon myself. Alas! and God help us ! we shall find it to be no such matter: for we neither love ourselves well, nor understand our own case; we are partial in our own questions, deceived in our sentences, careless of our interests, and the most false, perfidious creatures to ourselves in the whole world: even the “ heart of a man,” a man's own heart, “ is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" and who can choose but know it?
And there is no greater argument of the deceitfulness of our hearts than this, that no man can know it all; us in the very number of its cozenage. But yet we can reduce it all to two heads. We say, concerning a false man, Trust him not, for he will deceive you; and we say concerning a weak and broken staff, Lean not upon it, for that will also deceive you. The man deceives because he is false, and the staff because it is weak; and the heart, because it is both. So that it is “ deceitful above all things;" that is, failing and disabled to support us in many things, but in other things, where it can, it is false and “ desperately wicked.” The first sort of deceitfulness is its calamity, and the second is its iniquity; and that is the worse calamity of the two. VOL. I.
1. The heart is deceitful in its strength; and when we have the growth of a man, we have the weaknesses of a child: nay, more yet, and it is a sad consideration, the more we are in age, the weaker is our courage. It appears in the heats and forwardnesses of new converts, which are like to the great emissions of lightning, or like huge fires, which flame and burn without measure, even all that they can; till from flames they descend to still fires, from thence to smoke, from smoke to embers, and from thence to ashes; cold and pale, like ghosts, or the fantastic images of death. And the primitive church were zealous in their religion up to the degree of cherubims, and would run as greedily to the sword of the hangman, to die for the cause of God, as we do now to the greatest joy and entertainment of a Christian spirit,--even to the receiving of the holy sacrament. A man would think it reasonable, that the first infancy of Christianity should, according to the nature of first beginnings, have been remiss, gentle, and inactive ; and that, according as the object or evidence of faith grew, which in every age hath a great degree of argument superadded to its confirmation, so should the habit also and the grace; the longer it lasts, and the more objections it runs through, it still should show a brighter and more certain light to discover the divinity of its principle; and that after the more examples, and new accidents and strangenesses of providence, and daily experience, and the multitude of miracles, still the Christian should grow more certain in his faith, more refreshed in his hope, and warm in his charity; the very nature of these graces increasing and swelling upon the very nourishment of experience, and the multiplication of their own acts. because the heart of man is false, it suffers the fires of the altar to go out, and the flames lessen by the multitude of fuel. But, indeed, it is because we put on strange fire, and put out the fire upon our hearths by letting in a glaring sunbeam, the fire of lust, or the heats of an angry spirit, to quench the fire of God, and suppress the sweet cloud of incense. The heart of man hath not strength enough to think one good thought of itself; it cannot command its own attentions to a prayer of ten lines long, but, before its end, it shall wander after something that is to no purpose ; and no wonder, then, that it grows weary of a holy religion, which
consists of so many parts as make the business of a whole life. And there is no greater argument in the world of our spiritual weakness, and the falseness of our hearts in the matters of religion, than the backwardness which most men have always, and all men have sometimes, to say their prayers; so weary of their length, so glad when they are done, so witty to excuse and frustrate an opportunity: and yet there is no manner of trouble in the duty, no weariness of bones, no violent labours; nothing but begging a blessing, and receiving it: nothing but doing ourselves the greatest honour of speaking to the greatest person, and greatest King of the world: and, that we should be unwilling to do this, so unable to continue in it, so backward to return to it, so without gust and relish in the doing it, can have no visible reason in the nature of the thing, but something within us, a strange sickness in the heart, a spiritual nauseating or loathing of manna, something that hath no name; but we are sure it comes from a weak, a faint, and false heart.
And yet this weak heart is strong in passions, violent in desires, irresistible in its appetites, impatient in its lust, furious in anger : here are strengths enough, one should think. But so bave I seen a man in a fever, sick and distempered, unable to walk, less able to speak sense, or to do an act of counsel; and yet, when his fever had boiled up to a delirium, he was strong enough to beat his nursekeeper and his doctor too, and to resist the loving violence of all his friends, who would fain bind him down to reason and his bed; and yet we still say, he is weak and sick to death. Θέλω γαρ είναι τόνους εν σώματι, αλλ' ώς υγιαίνoντι, ως αθλούντι. , For these strengths of madness are not health, but furiousness and disease. Ουκ εισί τόνοι, αλλά átovice fregov ogónov, “ It is weakness another way."
And so are the strengths of a man's heart: they are fetters and manacles; strong, but they are the cordage of imprisonment; so strong, that the heart is not able to stir. And yet it cannot but be a huge sadness, that the heart shall pursue a temporal interest with wit and diligence, and an unwearied industry; and shall not have strength enough, in a matter that concerns its eternal interest, to answer one objection, to resist one
assault, to defeat one art of the devil ; but shall certainly and infallibly fall, whenever it is tempted to a pleasure.
This, if it be examined, will prove to be a deceit, indeed, a pretence, rather than true upon a just cause; that is, it is not a natural, but a moral and a vicious, weakness : and we may try it in one or two familiar instances. One of the great strengths, shall I call it? or weaknesses of the heart, is,—that it is strong, violent and passionate in its lusts, and weak and deceitful to resist any. Tell the tempted person, that if he act his lust, he dishonours his body, makes himself a servant to folly, and one flesh with a harlot; he defiles the temples of God,' and him that defiles a temple, will God destroy:' tell him, that the angels, who love to be present in the nastiness and filth of prisons, that they may comfort and assist chaste souls and holy persons there abiding, yet they are impatient to behold or come near the filthiness of a lustful person : tell him, that this sin is so ugly, that the devils, who are spirits, yet they delight to counterfeit the acting of this crime, and descend unto the daughters or sons of men, that they may rather lose their natures, than not to help to set a last forward : tell them these and ten thousand things more; you move them no more, than if
should read one of Tully's orations to a mule : for the truth is, they have no power to resist it, much less to master it; their heart fails them when they meet their mistress; and they are driven like a fool to the stocks, or a bull to the slaughter-house. And yet
their heart deceives them ; not because it cannot resist the temptation, but because it will not go about it: for it is certain, the heart can, if it list. For let a boy enter into your chamber of pleasure, and discover your folly, either your lust disbands, or your shame hides it; you will not, you dare not, do it before a stranger-boy: and yet, that you dare do it before the eyes of the all-seeing God, is impudence and folly, and a great conviction of the vanity of your pretence, and the falseness of your heart. If thou beest a man given to thy appetite, and thou lovest a pleasant morsel as thy life, do not declaim against the precepts of temperance as impossible: try this once; abstain from that draught, or that dish. I cannot. No? Give this man a great blow on the face, or tempt him with twenty pounds, and he shall fast