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I 









'^ 



o 



THE 

EDWARD SHELDON 

MEMORIAL COLLECTION 



:..:\m .:..:::. J :::: 




Presented to the 

Harvard College Library 

by his mother 
Mrs.Theodore Sheldon 



> 



I 
N 

I 






THE 



WORKS AND LIFE 



OF 



LAURENCE STERNE 



YORK EDITION. 

The Sutton Issue of the Life and Works of 
Laurence Sterne, printed at The Westminster Press^ 
New York, is limited to Seven Hundred and Fifty Stts^ 
of which this is Set No. ^ v^ -ife 



The 
SERMONS 

OF 

Mr. Yorick 

BT 

LAURENCE STERNE 

WITH AN INTRODUCTION 

WILBUR L. CROSS 




IN TWO VOLUMES 

Volume I 



J. F. TAYLOR & COMPANY 

NEW YOEK 






Copyright 190i, by 

J. F. TaTLOB & COMPAMT 




HARVARD 

UNIVERSITY 

LIBRARY 



WEW TOBK 



SERMONS 

BY 

LAURENCE STERNE, 

A.M. PREBENDARY OF YORK, AND 

VICAR OF SUTTON ON THE FOREST, AND 

OF STILUNGTON NEAR YORK 



CONTENTS 



Paob 

iMTBODncnoN xvii 

Peepace •••• xlvii 

SERMON I 
Inquibt after Happiness 8 

There be many that say, Who will show ns any good ! 
— Lord, lift thoa np the light of thy conntenanoe upon 
na. — PnALX iy. 6. 

SERMON II 

The House of Feasting and the House of 

MouBNiNG Described 19 

It ia better to go to the house' of moamiDg than to the 
honae of feasting. — Egcles. Til. 2, 8. 

SERMON III 
Philanthropy Recommended 85 

Which now of these three, thinkest thon, was neigh- 
bour unto him that fell among the thieves ? — And he said, 
He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto 
him — Go, and do thou likewise. — Lure x. 36, 87. 

SERMON IV 
Self-Enowledge 58 

And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man : 
and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that 
hath done this thing shall surely die, &c .... And Na- 
than said to David, Thou art the man. — 2 Sail zii. 5, 7. 



CONTENTS 



SERMON V 

Paoi 

The Case of Eujah and the Widow of 

Zabephath Considered 69 

ADd the barrel of meal wanted not, neither did the cmee 
of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord which he spake 
by the prophet Elijah. — 1 Kings xvii. 16. 

SERMON VI 
Pharisee and Publican in the Temple • • • 97 

I tell yon, this man went down to his house justified 
rather than tiie other. — Litkx xviiL 14, First Part 

SERMON VII 
Vindication of Human Nature Ill 

For none of us liyeth to himself. — Romans ziy. 7. 

SERMON VIII 
Time and Chance 1^ 

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not 
to the swift, — nor the battle to the strong, — neither yet 
bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, 
nor yet favour to men of skill, — but time and chance 
happeneth to them alL — Eoolxsiastes ix. 11. 

SERMON IX 
The Character of Herod 189 

Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy 

the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a Toice 

heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning; 
Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be com- 
forted, because they are not. — Hatthxw iL 17, 18. 



CONTENTS 



SERMON X 

Pa«b 

JoB*B Account of the Shortness and Troubles 

OF Life, Considered 155 

Mas that is bora of a woman, is of few days, and fnll of 
trooble : — He cometh forth like a flower, and ia cut down ; 
he fleeth alao aa a shadow, and continneth not. — Job 
ziT. 1, 2. 

SERMON XI 

Evily-SFEAKING 175 

If any man among yon seemeth to be religions, and 
biidleth not hia tcmgne, bat deceiyeth his own heart, that 
man's religion is vain. — Jamis L 26. 

SERMON XII 

JosEPH^'s History Considered. — Forgiveness of 

Injuries 193 

And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was 
dead, they aaid, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and 
win certainly reqaite us all the evils which we did onto 
him. — OsNXBis L 15. 

SERMON XIII 
Dmr of Setting Bounds to our Desires . . 211 

And he said unto him, Say now unto her, Behold, thou 
hast been careful for us with all this care ; — what is to be 
done for thee ? — wouldst thou be spoken for to the king, 
or the captain of the host ? — And she answered, I dwell 
among mine own people. — 2 Kings iv. 13. 



zi 



CONTENTS 

SERMON XIV 

Pa«b 

Self-Examination 225 

The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's 

orib ; bat Israel doth not know, — my people doth 

not consider. — Isaiah i. 8. 

SERMON XV 
Job's Expostulation with his Wife .... 289 

What ! Shall we receiye good at the hand of God, 

and shall we not receire evil alao ? — Job ii. 10. 

SERMON XVI 
The Chailacteb of Shimei 257 

Bnt Abishai said, Shall not Shimei be pnt to death for 
this! — 2 Samuel xiz. 21, First Part 

SERMON XVII 
The Case of Hezekiah and the Messengers . 269 

And he said, What have they seen in thine house ? and 
Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in my house 
have they seen ; there is nothing amongst all my treasures 
that I have not shown them. — 2 Kings xz. 16. 

SERMON XVIII 
The Levite and his Concubine 285 

And it came to pass in those days, when there was no 
king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning 
on the side of Mount Ephraim, who took unto him a 
ooneobine. — Judobs zix. 1, 2, 8. 

zii 



INTRODUCTION 

ON Good Friday, April 17, 1747, Steme 
preached at York — in the parish- 
church of St. MichaeUe-Belfrey — the 
annual sermon for the benefit of the Blue 
Coat schools. Besides the usual congregation 
of commoners, there were present the Lord 
Mayor, Aldermen, and Sherifis, in full official 
capacity. The sermon must have been re- 
garded as quite out of the ordinary run, for it 
was published as a sixpenny pamphlet, with a 
dedication to "the Very Reverend Richard 
Osbaldeston," then dean of the York chapter, 
and afterwards " the Lord Bishop of Carlisle." 
Steme was at that time thirty-three years old. 
This is, so far as is known, the first of the 
more extraordinary occasions on which Steme 
was invited to preach ; and except for para- 
graphs in the newspapers, it was with this 
sermon* that he first appeared in print. 

* Semion numbered V in this collection. 

zTii 



«■»■**- *% 



^^mCjCXXTION 

.<wa^ Oc !&> theme the story of 

!«M..> «»v> t«i^ TOtu £Gunine and the perse- 

. .-.^ . u!«»*> o^ the " safe and peaceful " 

uw.> \^ ftc brook Cherith ; and thence, 

iv ^^r^^^iui virted up, to the city of Zare- 

**ivAx; iie received kind entertainment 

\.4.. . »c\;* Hiduw. As might be expected, 

•V 4VM*.aci* enlarged upon the picturesque 

.V uc*4,> i\ the Biblical narrative, such as the 

...,^v»c lUit the prophet performed in behalf 

. av ^%iuow*s dead child, and then proceeded 

w' ui vuN(uciit appeal for the education of 

xv^ V iuldteiL The appeal was heeded : for 

av .vii^vtioii that followed amounted, it is 

x^-vi, ti> luore than 64/.* 

tiuc ^Kvseut-day interest in the sermon lies 
.i4v';v tn what it may contain that is pecu- 
.t<Ui\ Sterile —Sterne the Shandean and the 
xvuUuwiiUduit. It was certainly somewhat 
Siuuult^i for the preacher to reinforce the 
ivj^uiuvuiv of Solomon on the pleasure of doing 

• • • >iM:t^ Ajupil 21. On Friday last a charity sermon 
H.iA iuva*'hiil at St. Michael le Belfry by the Reverend Mr. 
NKau' v»i' Suttiui for the use of the Blue coat schools of 
kCu.\ v^U. when the sum of 64-11-8 was collected.* — 
v.rH%>a* iJuniucT, April 25, 1747." (Quoted by Isaac 

wiii 



INTRODUCTION 

good with s pangnqph <m Epicurus, "the 

-^-^ -' or fior him to illustrate 



• : i -;< ^ • »: ;4 1 v:i n; 



tlie effect of distress gd the hard-hearted by 
cHiqg the tears of Al^cander the Tjrrant 
<if Fheres» who wept at the misforttines of 
Hecuba and ABdromaehe m the play. It was 
periuqps more Shandean for the preacher to 
go^ as did Torick^ for his subject, not directly 
to the BiM^ but to the story of Elijah and 
the widow of Zarq^hath as elaborated with 
imaginative details and moral reflections by 
Dr. Jose^ HaU in his Cantemjdations, and 
then to put into the preikce a sentence or two 
on the diflEkmlty of saying anything new of 
charity. For not only did Steme follow in 
a general way the homily of his predecessor, 
but now and then he appropriated a phrase, 
a sentence, or a paragra]^ All this — the 
whim, the anecdote, and the occasional para- 
phrase of an old writer — is in the manner 
of Tri^am Shandy. 

The sermon points still more directly to the 
author of the Sentimental Journey. Yorick 
selected the story of Elijah and the widow of 
Zarephath for his discourse, he says, because 
of the ^^very interesting and affectionate" 
manner in which it ''is related in Holy 



zix 



INTRODUCTION 

Writ." And the two miracles "wrought by 
Infinite Power" are considered "not merely 
as Testimonies of the Prophet's Divine Mis- 
sion, but likewise as two encouraging Instances 
of God Almighty's Blessmg upon Works of 
Charity and Benevolence." The widow of 
Zarephath, Sterne goes on to argue ingen- 
iously, aided Elijah in his afflictions, not out 
of hope of reward, but because "she must 
have been wrought upon by an unmix'd Prin- 
ciple of Humanity/* EUjah's prayer over the 
widow's dead son that Gk>d would restore him 
to life, was likewise " urgent, and bespoke the 
Distress of a humane Mind deeply suffering in 
the Misfortunes of another." And when in 
answer to the prophet's pleading, "the Soul 
of the ChUd came into him again," Sterne 
stopped to depict the touching scene where 
Ehjah approaches "with the ChUd in his 
Arms," and places it once more in the bosom 
of its mother. The preacher waxed eloquent 
on " the Man who has a Tear of Tenderness 
always ready to shed over the Unfortunate." 
A good deed, it is said, sends a thrill of joy 
not only through the soul but through the 
body, as may be seen by the " Expressions of 
unutterable Pleasure and Harmony" in the 



INTRODUCTION 

looks of him who has just performed an act of 
IrinHnpgg or charity. Indeed *' nothing more 
contributes to Health than a Benevolence of 
Temper. ** From this it was but a step to the 
general conclusion that man is naturally dis- 
posed to pity all in distress ; that it is only by 
long practice in vice that he becomes hard- 
hearted. And finally the preacher asked his 
hearers whether the most universal conception 
of God is not that of a ** compassionate Bene- 
fieurtor, stretching forth his Hands to raise up 
the helpless Orphan." Is not the pattern of 
human nature to be found in Gk>d become 
man, who *^ was willing to undergo all Kinds 
of A£9iction ; to sacrifice Himself ; to forget 
his dearest Interests ; and even lay down his 
Life for the Gkxxi of Mankind " ? On his 
first printed sermon, in which compassion is 
exalted as the quality whereby man and God 
are made kin. Sterne might have written the 
very words he used in describing to Mrs. 
James the aim of the Sentimental Journey. 
" My design in it," he told her, " was to teach 
us to love the world and our fellow-creatures 
better than we do — so it runs most upon 
those gentler passions and affections, which 
aid so much to it." But many years had to 

xxi 



INTRODUCTION 

elapse before Sterne could address the Com- 
passionate Benefactor of the sermon as '' Dear 
Sensibility I somt^e inexhausted of all that's 
precious in our joys, or costly in our sorrows ! 
* * * Eternal fountain of our feelings ! " 

Three years later, Sterne was greatly hon- 
ored by an invitation to preach in the York 
minster the official sermon * before the High 
Sheriff, the Grand Jury, and ^'a thousand 
witnesses" at the summer Assizes. Pub- 
lished at York in the same year, under the 
title The Abuses of Conscience, it was after- 
wards incorporated into Tristram Shandy, and 
thus became celebrated for itself and for the 
comments upon it at Shandy HalL It was 
" the best thing," thought Horace Walpole, in 
the romance. Voltaire was also struck by it, 
and made free use of it in his article on Can- 
science in the Dictionnaire Phihsqphiqtie. It 
seemed to the French wit that Sterne depicted 
with rare clearness the way in which conscience 
becomes untrustworthy from free indulgence 
in natural propensities. Passion, sa3rs Sterne 
aptly, to paraphrase him, often gets into the 
judgment seat and pronounces sentence in 

• Na XXVII : preached July 99, 1750. 



INTRODUCTION 

place of conscience. The sermon is, I think, 
the most closely reasoned piece of work that 
ever came from Sterne. It also possesses in- 
teresting literary qualities. Beginning with a 
sort of Shandean denial of the text, Yorick 
goes on to describe the types of men who are 
deceived by their conscience, stops now and 
then for a thrust at the Church of Rome, 
and concludes with a pathetic picture of a 
poor wretch undergoing the torments of the 
Inquisition* 

If we could know, I am inclined to think — 
contrary to the usual opinion — that most, if 
not all, of Sterne's sermons were originally 
written not so much for the press as for the 
pulpit. His rather poor sermon on Our Con- 
versation in Heaven * was preached — so runs 
a memorandum on the manuscript — for the 
Dean of York on All Saints, 1750. It was 
not one of the great occasions. For there 
were present, says Sterne, only " one Bellows 
Blower, three Singing Men, one Vicar, and 
one Residentiary." Quite different fix)m this 
was a scene some eleven years later, after 
Sterne had won his fame. In the spring of 
1761, he was in London, sta3dng on from mid- 

• No. XXIX. 

• •• 

zxm 



INTRODUCTION 

winter to enjoy to the fiill the social attentions 
that followed the publication of a second in- 
stalment of Tristram Shandy. Not the least 
interesting event of that visit was a sermon * 
at St. Andrews, Holbom, for the support of 
deserted children. The audience, it is said, 
was large, and included doubtless the great 
rout of wits that had been crowding about 
him for three months, t They must have 
been amused by the preacher's eccentricities, 
for Sterne was never more Shandean than 
on that occasion. It was a sermon of atti- 
tudes, pauses, and paradoxes. It had, too, 
passages of great pathos, as that one where 
Yorick says he is bespeaking ^^ alms-giving in 
behalf of those who know not how to ask it 
for themselves." 

In the summer Sterne returned to his York- 
shire parish, and on the coronation of (reorge 

♦ Na XXIII. 

t " Yesterday morning a charity sermon was preached 
at the Chapel^ belonging to the Foundling Hospital for 
the support of the children maintained and educated in 
the said hospital, by the Rev. Mr. Sterne^ to a numerous 
audience^ several of whom were persons of distinction^ and 
a handsome collection was made for the further support of 
that charity.'* — Uoyds Evemng Past for Monday^ May 4^ 
1761. 



INTRODUCTION 

the Third — SeptembCT 22 — he preached a 
sermon * after another type, which pleased his 
rural congregation greatly. For his subject, 
he took the history of the Church in England 
under Divine Providence. Of the sermon and 
the festivities that accompanied it, the steward 
of Newburgh Priory wrote to the Earl of Fau- 
conbeig, then in London: ^^I am extremely 
obliged to your lordship for the coronation 
news, and am glad yoiu* lordship got excused 
from attending, which might have been of bad 
omsequence. Here a fine ox with his horns 
gilt was roasted whole in the middle of the 
town, after which the bells put in for church, 
where an excellent sermon was delivered ex- 
tempory on the occasion by Mr. Sterne, and 
gave great content to every hearer. The 
church was quite full, both quire and aisle, to 
the very door. The text, &c., you will see 
both in the London and York papers. About 
three o'clock the ox was cut up and distributed 
amongst at least three thousand people, after 
which two barrels of ale was distributed 
amongst those that could get nearest to em. 
Ringing of bells, squibs and crackers, tar- 
barrels and bonfires, &c., and a ball in the 

♦ No. XXI. 



INTRODUCTION 

evening, concluded the joyful day." — The < 
was furnished by the parson. 

The next year Sterne went to France for a 
long sojourn- As he was about to leave Paris 
for home in the spring of 1764, he preached at 
the English Ambassador's chapel before "a 
concourse of all nations, and religions too " — 
men distinguished in poUtics, art, literature, 
and philosophy. In the congregation were 
Hume, then secretary to the embassy, Diderot, 
and Holbach. It was " an odd " sermon * on 
the reception that Hczekiah accorded to the 
messengers from the king of Babylon who had 
come to congratulate him on his recovery from 
serious illness. For the benefit of the philoso- 
phers and sceptics in the audience, Steme 
seems to have described with especial delight 
" the astronomical miracle " which was per- 
formed as a sign that Hezekiah would be 
healed. He professed to beUeve that the 
Babylonians "had taken notice at that dis- 
tance, of the strange appearance of the 
shadow's returning ten degrees backwards 
upon their dials," and so had come to Jerusa- 
lem " that they might see the man for whose i 
sake the sun had forsook his course." 
• Na XVII. 




INTRODUCTION^ 

Periiaps none of the other sermons can be 
assigned to a definite time and place. The 
sermcm on Herod* was preached somewhere 
on Innocents Day. There is an eloquent 
sermon on Asa prepared for some period of 
Thanksgiving ; t and another | in commemo- 
ration of the martyrdom of the blessed King 
Charles. Two sermons purport to have been 
delivered in Lent The first of them, on the 
Pharisee and the Publican in the Temple, § is 
a gay attack on ** the ostentatious ceremonies 
and gestures " of the Church of Rome. The 
second — on the text : " It is better to go to 
the house of mourning, than to the house 
of feasting" — Sterne, in agreement with most 
since his time, regarded as one of the best || 
We should like to know where and when 
it was that Sterne denied, as he did in this 
sermon, the truth of his text. — Was it in 
the great cathedral at York? Except as it 
may be "fiiiitful in virtue," sorrow, said 
Sterne in refuting Solomon, " has no use, but 
to shorten a man's days — nor can gravity, 
with all its studied solemnity of look and 
carriage, serve any end but to make one half 

• Na IX. t No. XL. t No. XXXII. 

§ No. VI. I No. II. 



XXVll 



INTRODUCTION 

of the world meny, and impose upon the 
other/* 

It may have been only the spirit of humor 
that prompted Sterne to slip the sermon on 
Conscience into Tristram Shandy ^ with the sug- 
gestion that '' a handsome volume " might be 
made up of the sermons which Parson Yorick 
left behind him. But it was a shrewd humor. 
For on Sterne's first interview with Dodsley 
in March 1760, the publisher was ready to 
close with him for two volumes of sermons, 
to follow a second edition of the first instal- 
ment of Tristram Shandy. Shandy appeared 
on the third of April, and after repeated an- 
nouncements in the newspapers, TTie Sermons 
of Mr. Yorick — fifteen in the whole — were 
published in two volumes on the twenty- 
second of May.* For frontispiece, an en- 
graving was made from the portrait by 
Rejmolds. There was added a second title- 
page, bearing the name of Laurence Sterne, 
inserted, says the author, to '' ease the minds 
of those who see a jest, and the danger which 
lurks under it, where no jest was meant *" 
FoUowing a witty prefece, came an array of 
more than five hundred subscribers, among 

* The Londm Ckrtmkk. 
zztUI 



INTRODUCTION 

whom were noblemen of the first rank — 
Devonshire, Portland, and Marlborough. In 
the list, too, were Mr. Garrick, Mr. Hogarth, the 
Earl of Chesterfield, and Lord Bathurst, the 
fiiend of Pope and Swift, who now thought in 
his old age that he had discovered their equal 
in the Yorkshire parson* In January, 1766, 
Sterne published twelve more sermons in two 
volumes, which were adorned by *^ the largest 
and most splendid list" of subscribers that 
*^ ever pranced before a book." Along with the 
nobility and gentry of the realm, were now for 
the first time the names of Sterne's friends and 
admirers in France — Holbach, Diderot, Cr^- 
Ullon, and Voltaire. To the twenty-seventh 
aad last sermon (a reprint, with some changes, 
of the sermon in Tristram Shandy) was prefixed 
an Advertisement to the efiect that there were 
no more sermons to be published, except per- 
haps ** the sweepings of the Author's study after 
his death," The widow and daughter swept 
Shandy Hall pretty clean, finding eighteen more 
sermons, enough for three volumes, which ap- 
peared in the last week of May, 1769, under 
the title. Sermons by the late Rev. Mr. Sterne. 
As Sterne expected, he was "attacked 
and pelted" for placing the name of Yorick 



INTRODUCTION 

on the title-page to the first series of sermons. 
The Monthly Review^ for example, considered 
the manner of publication " the greatest out- 
rage against Sense and Decency, that has 
been offered since the first establishment of 
Christianity — an outrage which would scarce 
have been tolerated even in the days of pagan- 
ism." Are the solenm dictates of religion, 
it was asked, "fit to be conveyed firom the 
mouths of Buffoons and ludicrous Romancers ? 
Would any man believe that a Preacher was 
in earnest, who should mount the pulpit in 
a HarleqvirCs coat?'' Likewise a venerable 
churchman — it is related in the Sentimental 
Journey — could not bear to look into sermons 
from the King of Denmark's jester. 

" * Good my lord I ' said I ; * but there are 
two Yoricks. The Yorick yoiu" lordship 
thinks of has been dead and buried eight 
hundred years ago; he flourished in Hor- 
wendillus's court — the other Yorick is myself, 
who have flourished, my lord, in no court ' — 
He shook his head — *Good God I' said I, 
*you might as well confound Alexander the 
Great with Alexander the Coppersmith, my 
lord' — *Twas all one,' he replied. — 

— If Alexander king of Macedon could 

XXX 



(( ( 



INTRODUCTION 

have translated your lordship/ said I, ^ I'm sure 
your lordship would not have said so/ " — If not 
a complete vindication, it is a perfect sketcL 

For the sermons themselves there was 
universal praise. The writer in the Monthly 
Review^ who thought a fool's cap ill became 
a Reverend head, nevertheless knew **of no 
compositions of this kind in the English lan- 
guage, that are written with more ease, purity, 
and elegance." The Critical Review^ then 
under the editorship of Smollett, beheld with 
pleasure ^* this son of Comus descending fix)m 
the chair of mirth and frolick, to inspire senti- 
ments of piety, and read lectures in morality, 
to that very audience whose hearts he has cap- 
tivated with good-natured wit, and facetious 
humor." *' Have you read his sermons (with 
his own comic figure at the head of them)?" — 
inquired Gray in a letter to Thomas Wharton ; 
and added \he comment: **They are in the 
style, I think, most proper for the pulpit, 
and shew a very strong imagination and a 
sensible heart" Even Dr. Johnson, though 
he abhorred the man Sterne, admitted that 
he read the sermons while travelling in a 
stage coach. Had he been at large, he said, 
he would not have looked at them. And 



INTRODUCTION 

Lady Cowper, though she could not advise her 
friend Mrs. Delany to read Tristram Shandy, 
recommended the sermons, and felt sure that 
Mr. Sterne must be ** a good man " after alL 

Sterne's sermons have suffered greatly from 
the neglect that has overtaken this literary 
form since his time. In the eighteenth century, 
the great preachers published their sermons in 
volumes running from three or four to four- 
teen, and the people read them. The sermons 
of James Foster, the Independent divine, it is 
said, went through five editions, to say nothing 
of Whitefield and Wesley, for whose popu- 
larity there were extraordinary reasons. And 
like Sterne, every young prebendary, looking 
for promotion, was expected to publish now 
and then a special discourse. Fielding, it may 
be remembered, became merry over the occa- 
sional sermon of this kind — " preached on the 
80th of January," or printed, as says the title- 
page, " at the earnest request of the congrega- 
tion." This fashion of publishing and reading 
sermons has long since gone ; and the pubUc 
now prefers to them the sketch or the short 
story. Thackeray, who merely mentioned 
Sterne's sermons in the famous portrait of the 
humorist, probably never read them. The 



INTRODUCTION 

great novelist may indeed have approved of 
the footnote to his lecture, wherein two pas- 
sages are quoted from the sermons and de- 
clared to be *' stamped with the autograph of 
the author of the Sentimental Journey'^ But 
the footnote was not written by Thackeray 
himself; it came from the pen of a hack 
— respectable, it is true, — named James 
Hannay. Walter Bagehot, who evidently 
perused the sermons, was disappointed to 
find that ^* there is not much of heaven and 
hell " in them. " Auguste Comte,** he went 
on to say, ^* might have admitted most of 
these sermons ; they are healthy statements 
of earthly truths, but they would be just as 
true if there was no religion at all ; if the 
* valuable illusion' of a deity were omitted 
from the belief of mankind." What Bagehot 
said is somewhere near the truth, and the 
statement is to their favor, though the critic 
did not mean it so. The late Henry D. 
Traill, who wrote a perfunctory life of Steme 
for English Men of Letters, was still more 
severe. With the exception of the two that 
had been published at York, Traill pro- 
nounced all the sermons comprising the first 
set of fifteen to be '' of the most common- 



INTRODUCTION 

place character; platitudinous with the plati- 
tudes of a thousand pulpits, and insipid with 
the crambe repetita of a hundred thousand 
homilies/' But the sermons in the second set, 
he said, are marked by a ** daring quaintness of 
style," " a vigor of expression and vivacity of 
illustration." On the other hand. Professor 
Saintsbury thinks the first sermons ** the most 
carefully written things" that we have from 
Sterne. In the later sermons, Sterne was try- 
ing, says Professor Saintsbury, to see "how 
far Tristram in bands and gown could borrow 
the merits of Tristram in coat and soUtairer 
There is hardly the shadow of a truth in the 
statements of either critic. Professor Saints- 
bury evidently read the first set, and Traill 
evidently read the second set — That accounts 
for the charming disagreement 

And so critical opinion in regard to Sterne's 
sermons has run on for a century — in meas- 
ured censure or measured praise. Perhaps 
John Henry Newman leaned more decidedly 
towards praise. For the purposes of contro- 
versy he read Sterne's sermon * on the supe- 
riority of the eloquence of the Bible over that 

* Consult Sermon No. XLII, and Newman, The Idea of 
a UmversUy. 



INTRODUCTION 

he was teaching, and it came from the heart 
His thought and his style were never obfus- 
cated by cant — what the French call the 
patois de Chanaan — that unintelligible jaigon 
compounded of ill-understood and ill-related 
Biblical metaphors. In a word there was in 
Sterne nothing of the h]rpocrite, nothing of the 
Tartufie. This is all admirably said. Sterne 
was unstable, but his emotions — if only mo- 
mentary — were genuine. The French critic 
goes on, as Sterne himself would have done in 
a similar study, to seek the preacher's domi- 
nant idea, and he finds it beyond question 
in a reasonable optimism. Without denjring 
in the least evil and disorder in the world, 
Sterne yet implicitly believed in the essential 
goodness of human nature and in the wise and 
just ways of Providence. He preached a sort 
of common sense philosophy, which, if it had 
nothing to do with Christian dogmas, never 
contradicted them. 

In these varied views, interesting as they all 
are^ too little attention has been given to the 
literary character of the sermons, though it 
has indeed been touched upon by Saintsbury, 
Newman, and others. Sterne himself de- 
scribed the sermons exactly when he called 



INTRODUCTION 

them dramatic. Very likely he had in mind 
partly the breaks and pauses, and the direct 
addresses to Solomon, St. Paul, and to Gkxl 
himself in the course of the delivery. A 
passage, for example, in the charity sermon * 
preached at St. Andrews must have caused a 
sensatioQ in the fsishionable London congrega- 
ti<m. After drawing an emotional portrait of 
Lazarus, '*a creature in all the shipwreck of 
nature," at the gate of the Rich Man, the 
preacher took issue with the Almighty on 
His dealings with men, suddenly exclaiming : 
•* Gkx>d God I whence is this ? Why dost 
thou suffer these hardships in a world which 
thou hast made? Is it for thy honoiu*, that 
one man should eat the bread of fulness, and 
so many of his own flock and lineage eat the 
bread of sorrow ? — That this man should go 
dad in purple, and have all his paths strewed 
with rose-buds of delight, whilst so many 
mournful passengers go heavily along, and 
pass by his gates, hanging down their heads ? 
Is it for thy Glory, O God I that so large a 
shade of misery should be spread across thy 
works ? ** Then came the equally abrupt con- 
clusion that the Almighty has not blundered 

* Sermon XXIII. 

• • 

▼u 



INTRODUCTION 

after alL ''When the great chain,'' it was 
explained, '' at length is let down, and all that 
has held the two worlds in harmony is seen ; 
— when the dawn of that day approaches, in 
which all the distressful incidents of this Drama 

shall be unravd'd ; when every man's case 

shall be reconsidered, — then wilt thou be 
fully justified in all thy wajrs, and every 
mouth shall be stopped." 

Unexpected, too, must have been the turn 
taken in the sermon on the Prodigal Son, 
where Sterne closed with some reflections 
upon the fatal passion among young men for 
making the tour of Europe. It is mdeed, 
said the preacher, a good thing to get ''out 
of the company of our aunts and grand- 
mothers, and fix)m the track of nursery mis- 
takes ; " but the English youth, setting out 
unfurnished with ideas, leams nothing by the 
way, and returns as poor and naked as the 
prodigal in the Gk)speL " So great an actor," 
Saintsbury has written, "is nowhere to be 
found in literature." 

But Sterne was more than an actor. The 
sermons are dramatic m the best sense of 
the word. The essence of the drama is the 
portrayal of character. In the main Sterne 

xxxviii 



INTRODUCTION 

abstractions, and took for his theme 
some interesting Biblical narrative, with a 
stiong bent towards a narrative which of- 
fered a chance for contrast of character. To 
pass over sermons already mentioned, there 
are of this kind The Pharisee and the Publican 
in the Temple^ FeUx before PauU and Jacob 
and his Brethren. Especially notable for its 
dramatic realization of character is the sermon 
on Hie Levite and his Concvhine. A certain 
Levite dwelling by Mount Ephraim took unto 
himself a concubine out of Bethlehem-judah. 
In course of time she left hun and returned 
to her father's house. After four months of 
kmeliness, the Licvite went after her to bring 
her agam; but on the way back, she met with 
barbarous treatment among the sons of BeliaL 
The story must have been most congenial to 
the great master of equivoque, and for that 
reason it was finely told. While the preacher 
did not attempt to justify the conduct of the 
Levite in the final scene as related in Scrip- 
ture, he pleaded for his conduct in the earlier 
stages of the drama. He thought that Solo- 
mon s " seven hundred wives and three hun- 
dred concubines " were " an insult upon the 
privil^^ of mankind," but that the Levite 

zxxix 



INTRODUCTION 

kept wen within nature's ^^yeaimngs fin- 
society and friendship." ''Let the tcnrpid 
McHiky" exclaimed the preadber eloquently, 
''seek heaven comfinrtless and alone — God 
speed himi For my own part, I fear, I should 
never so find the way: let me be wise and 
religious — but let me be Man: ^dierever thy 
Providence places me, or whatever be the 
road I take to get thee — give me some com- 
panion in my journey, be it only to remark 
to. How our shadows lengthen as the sun 
goes down ; — to whom I may say. How fresh 
is the face of nature I How sweet the flowors 
of the field I How delicious are these fruits I ** 
Of Sterne's single character studies, one of 
the most complete is Shimei in the sixteenth 
sermon. David, after his son Absalom rose 
against him, fled fix)m Jerusalem for safety. 
While he was passing by Mount Olivet, 
Shimei, of the house of Saul, came forth and 
cursed David ; " and threw stones and cast 
dust at him." When Absalom was vanquished 
and David returned to Jerusalem in peace, 
Shimei was the first man to greet him. Sterne 
thoroughly modernized Shimei, making out 
of him a t)rpe of the time-server. " Shimei," 
said he, "is the barometer of every man's 

id 



INTRODUCTION 

fortune; marks the rise and faU of it, with aU 
the variations from scorchmg hot to freezing 
cold upon his countenance, that the smile will 
admit of " O Shimei 1 " — to quote a Shan- 
dean outburst — *^ O Shimei 1 would to heaven 
when thou wast slain, that all thy family had 
been slain with thee ; and not one of thy re- 
semblance leftl but ye have multiplied ex- 
ceedingly and replenished the earth; and if 
I prophecy rightly- Ye wiU in the end 
ntbdue it" 

It remains to say a word on the charge 
<rf plagiarism that has been brought against 
Sterne in the sermons. In the first volume 
of the collected edition, Sterne warns the 
reader that he **must not look for many 
new thoughts.'' " Tis well," says Sterne, " if 
he has new language." ''In three or four 
passages," it is added frirther, *' where he has 
neither the one or the other, I have quoted 
the author I made free with — there are some 
other passages, where I suspect I may have 
taken the same Uberty, — but 'tis only suspi- 
cion, for I do not remember it is so." Again, 
Sterne says in Tristram Shandy that it was 
Yorick's custom to write some line " of com- 
ment or stricture" on the first leaf of his 



INTRODUCTION 

sermons; and as a specimen, he gives: ^*For 
this sermon I shall be hanged^ — for I have 
stolen the greater part of it. Doctor Paidag- 
unes found me otU.^' 

This custom of Sterne's is confirmed by 
Isaac Reed, the editor of Shakespeare, who 
saw the manuscript sermons. On sermon forty- 
four, justifying the ways of Providence to 
man, Sterne has the memorandum : '^ I have 
borrowed most of the Reflections upon the 
Characters from Wollaston or at least have 
enlarged frx>m his hints, though the Sermon 
is truly mine, such as it is." None of the 
reviewers in Sterne's own time seem to have 
discovered him. But in the European Maga- 
zine for August 1789, a correspondent, who 
disguised himself under the initials O. P. Q., 
found striking resemblances between passages 
in Yorick's sermons and those of Dr. Edward 
Young, Dean of Sarum and father to the 
poet. Two years afterwards, as has been 
related elsewhere. Dr. John Ferriar — fore- 
shadowed by Sterne himself in the learned Dr. 

Paidagunes — really found him out. The 

Contemplations of Dr. Joseph Hall, the un- 
fortunate Bishop of Norwich back in the time 
of Charles the First, was the book Sterne most 

xlii 



INTRODUCTION 

used. Besides Elijah and the Widow of 
Zarephaths the Bishop wrote on Shimei and 
the Levite and his concubine; and in each 
case Sterne took something fix>m him. Oc- 
casicmally an entire paragraph was appropriated 
with only slight change in the phrasing. But 
in spite of so direct borrowing in places, the 
aim and tone of Sterne are invariably quite 
different. Bishop Hall was a scholar of solid 
attainments. Sterne was a man of the world. 
Rather more interesting than Sterne's thefts 
from others are the thefts from himself. He 
had a way of taking passages out of one ser- 
mon and putting them into another under a 
new text Self-Knowledge and the Abuses of 
Conscience were m Sterne's unaghiation so 
allied in theme that he transferred from one 
to the other sermon * a long passage on how 
we may be deceived by conscience. In like 
manner, the sermon, t without title, on the 
corruption of the times, closes with a passage 
from the sermon on the Advantages of Chris- 
tianity to the Worlds \ modified in precisely the 
way Sterne sometimes varied from the exact 
words of Bishop Hall. In the first sermon, 
we read : " No doubt, there is sufficient room 

• No«. IV and XXVII. t Na XXXIIL J No. XXVI. 

sliii 



INTRODUCTION 

for amendment in the Christian world, and we 
may be said to be a very corrupt and bad gen- 
eration of men, considering what motives we 
have fix)m the purity of our religion, and the 
force of its sanctions to make us better : — yet 
still I affirm, if these restraints were taken off, 
the world would be infinitely worse.** This 
becomes for a new purpose : ** No doubt, there 
is great room for amendment m the Christian 
world, — and the professors of our holy religion 
may in general be said to be a very corrupt 
and bad generation of men, — considering what 
reasons and obUgations they have to be bettar. 
— Yet still I affirm, if those restraints were les- 
sened, — the world would be infinitely worse.** 
And finally, half of the Thirtieth of January, 
on " the great trespass '* of our forefathers in 
putting to death Charles the First was wrought 
anew for The Ingratitude of Isra^L Other 
writers have stolen fi:*om themselves — Lamb 
among them, if I mistake not — but perhaps 

none to a greater extent than Sterne. 

And yet when a man has said a good thing 
once, why should he not repeat it? 



xliT 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 

WHILE I was preparing the foregoing 
essay on Yorick's sermons, Mr. W. A. 
White, of New York City, sent to me 
his copies of Sterne's first two sermons, printed 
at YoA in 1747 and 1750 respectively. The 
two pamphlets, now bound together, came fix)m 
the library of Isaac Reed (1742-1807), the 
Shakespearean scholar. On one of the front 
fi^-Ieaves is ^ a page from Sterne's MSS. Ser- 
mcHis,'' frx>m which I have quoted ; and on 
another leaf is a paragraph frx>m the General 
Advertiser^ which I have also given in a foot- 
note. On the blank pages at the end have 
been pasted old newspaper clippings of con- 
siderable interest 

Taking advantage of Mr. White's permission 
to use the volume as I may please, I have 
thought best to reprint, now for the first time, 
the original dedication to the famous Assize 
sermon, numbered twenty-seven in this collec- 
tion. I have discovered also that the Shan- 

xlv 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 

dean Advertisement to this sermon and the 
briefer Advertisement to the sermon on Elijah 
(numbered V), which Sterne wrote for the 
collected edition of the sermons, have never 
been reprinted. I have placed the former 
after the origmal dedication and the latter as 
a footnote at the end. — Except for these in- 
teresting additions, this edition of Yorick's 
sermons follows the text of 1780. 

w. L a 



xlyi 



PREFACE 

[TO THE FIRST EDITION] 

THE Sermon which gave rise to the pub- 
lication of these, having been offered to 
the world as a Sermon of YoricUsy I hope 
the most serious reader wUl find nothing to 
offend him, in my continuing these volumes 
under the same title : lest it should be other- 
wise, I have added a second title-page with 
the real name of the author — the first will 
serve the Bookseller's purpose, as Yorick^s 
name is possibly of the two the more known ; 
— and the second will ease the minds of those 
who see a jest, and the danger which lurks 
under it, J^ no jest was mLt 

I suppose it is needless to inform the Public, 
that the reason of printing these Sermons 
arises altogether fix)m the favourable reception 
which the Sermon given as a sample of them 
in Trist&am Shandy met with from the 
world. — That Sermon was printed by itself 
some years ago, but could find neither pur- 

xIyU 



PREFACE 

chasers nor readers; so that I apprehended 
little hazard fix>m a promise I made upon its 
republicaticm, ** That if the Sermon was liked, 
these should be also at the world's service ; " 
which, to be as good as my word, they here 
are, and I pray to GrOD, they may do it the 
service I wish. I have little to say in their 
behalf, except this, that not one of them was 
composed with any thoughts of being printed ; 
— they have been hastily written, and carry 
the marks of it along with them. — This may 
be no recommendation ; — I mean it however 
as such ; for as the Sermons turn chiefly upon 
philanthropy, and those kindred virtues to it, 
upon which hang all the Law and the Proph- 
ets, I trust they will be no less felt, or worse 
received, for the evidence they bear, of proceed- 
ing more fix)m the heart than the head. I 
have nothing to add, but that the reader, upon 
old and beaten subjects, must not look for 
many new thoughts — 'tis well if he has new 
language ; in three or four passages, where he 
has neither the one nor the other, I have 
quoted the author I made free with. — There 
are some other passages, where I suspect I 
may have taken the same Uberty, — but 'tis 
only suspicion, for I do not remember it is so, 

xlviii 



PREFACE 

otherwise I should have restored them to their 
pt>per owners ; so that I put in here more as 
a general saving, than fix>m a consciousness of 
^ having much to answer for upon that score : 
in this however, and in everjrthing else, which 
I ofier, or shall ofier to the world, I rest, 
with a heart much at ease, upon the protection 
of the humane and candid, fix)m whom I have 
received many favours, for which I beg leave 
to return them thanks thanks. 



xlix 



I I 



SERMONS 



\ 



SERMONS 



SERMON I 

INQUIRY AFTER HAPPINESS 

Tliert be maajr tluit Mjr, Who will show us any good! — 
Lofld, lift thoa np the light of thjr coontenanee upon ns. 

Pbalm It. 6. 

THE great pursuit of man is after happi- 
ness : it is the first and strongest desire 
of his nature ; — in every stage of his 

life, he searches for it as for hid treasure ; 

courts it under a thousand different shapes, -^ 
and though perpetually disappointed, — still 
persists — runs aft;er and inquires for it afresh 
— asks every passenger who comes in his way, 
fF?u) will show him any good 1 — who will assist 
him in the attainment of it, or direct him to 
the discovery of this great end of all his 
wishes? 

He is told by one to search for it among the 
more gay and useful pleasures of life, in scenes 
of mirth and sprightliness where Happiness 
ever presides, and is ever to be known by the 

s 



SERMON I 

joy and laughter which he will at once see 
painted in her looks. 

A second, with a graver aspect, points out 
to the costly dwellings which pride and ex- 
travagance have erected : tells the inquirer 

that the object he is in search of inhabits there; 
— that Happiness lives only in company with 
the great, in the midst of much pomp and out- 
ward state — that he will easily find her out by 
the coat of many colours she has on, and the 
great luxury and expense of equipage and fur- 
niture with which she always sits surrounded. 

The miser blesses Gk>d I — wonders how any 
one would mislead, and wilfully put him upon 
so wrong a scent — convinces him that happi- 
ness and extravagance never mhabited under 
the same roof; — that if he would not be dis- 
appointed in his search, he must look into the 
plain and thrifty dwelling of the prudent nuin, 
who knows and understands the worth of 
money, and cautiously lays it up against an 
evil hour: that it is not the prostitution of 
wealth upon the passions, or the parting with 
it at all, that constitutes happiness — but that 
it is the keeping it together, and the hating 
and holding it fast to him and his heirs for 
ever, which are the chief attributes that form 



INQUIRY AFTER HAPPINESS 

this great idol of human wqrship, to which so 
much incense is offered up every day. 

The epicure, though he easily rectifies so 
gross a mistake, yet at the same time he 
plunges him, if possible, into a greater; for 
hearing the objects of his pursuit to be happi- 
ness, and knowing of no other happiness than 
what is seated immediately in his senses — he 

sends the inquirer there ; tells him 'tis in 

vain to search elsewhere for it, than where 
Nature herself has placed it — in the indul- 
gence and gratification of the appetites, which 
are given us for that end : and in a word — if 
he will not take his opinion in the matter — he 
may trust the word of a much wiser man, who 
has assured us That there is nothing better in 
this world, than that a man should eat and 
drink and rejoice in his works, and make his 

soul enjoy good in his labour for that is 

his portion* 

To rescue him fit)m this brutal experiment 

Ambition takes him by the hand and 

carries him into the world, shows him all 

the kingdoms of the earth and the glory of 
them, — points out the many ways of advanc- 
ing his fortune and raising himself to honour, — 
lays before his eyes all the charms and be- 



SERMON I 

witching temptations of power, and asks if 
there can be any happiness in this world like 
that of being caressed, courted, flattered, and 
followed ? 

To dose all, the philosopher meets him 
bustling in the full career of this pursuit — 
stops him — tells him, if he is in search of 
happiness, he is far gone out of his way. 

That this deity has long been banished from 
noise and tumults, where there was no rest 
found for her, and was fled into solitude fiur 
from all conmierce of the world; and in a word, 
if he would find her, he must leave this busy 
and intriguing scene, and go back to that 
peaceful scene of retirement and books, frt>m 
which he at first set out 

In this circle too often does man run, tries 
all experiments, and generally sits down weary 
and dissatisfied with them all at last — in utter 
despair of ever accomplishing what he wants — 
nor knowing what to trust to after so many 
disappointments ; or where to lay the fault, 
whether in the incapacity of his own nature, 
or the insufiiciency of the enjojrments them- 
selves. 

In this uncertain and perplexed state 

without knowledge which way to turn or 



INQUIRY AFTER HAPPINESS 

where to betake ourselves for refuge — so 
often abused and deceived by the many who 

pretend thus to show us any good 

Lord I says the Psahnist, lift up the light of 
thy countenance upon us. Send us some 
rays of thy grace and heavenly wisdom, in this 
benighted search after happiness, to direct us 
safely to it. O Gk>d I let us not wander for 
ever without a guide, in this dark region, in 
endless pursuit of our mistaken good, but en- 
lighten our eyes that we sleep not in death — 
opoi to them the comforts of thy holy Word 
and religion — lift up the light of thy counte- 
nance upcm us, — and make us know the joy 
and satisfaction of living in the true faith and 
fear of Thee, which only can carry us to this 
haven of rest where we would be — that sure 
haven, where true joys are to be found, which 
will at length not only answer all our expecta- 
tions — ^but satisfy the most unbounded of our 
wishes for ever and ever. 

The words thus opened, naturally reduce 
the remaining part of the discourse under two 
heads. The first part of the verse — " there be 
many that say, Who will show us any good ? " 
— to make some reflections upon the in- 
sufficiency of most of our enjoyments towards 



SERMON I 

the attainment of happiness, upon some of 
the most-received plans on which 'tis generaUy 
sought 

The examination of which will lead us up 
to the source, and true secret of all happiness, 
suggested to us in the latter part of the verse 
— " Lord I lift thou up the light of thy coun- 
tenance upon us " — that there can be no real 
happmess without reUgion and virtue, and the 
assistance of God's grace and Holy Spirit to 
direct our lives in the true pursuit of it. 

Let us inquire into the disappointments of 
human happiness, on some of the most-re- 
ceived plans on which *tis generally sought for 
and expected, by the bulk of mankind. 

There is hardly any subject more exhausted, 
or which at one time or other has afforded 
more matter for argument and declamation, 
than this one, of the insufficiency of our enjoy- 
ments. Scarce a reformed sensualist from 
Solomon down to our own days, who has not 
in some fits of repentance or disappointment 
uttered some sharp reflection upon the empti- 
ness of human pleasure, and of the vanity of 
vanities which discovers itself in all the pursuits 
of mortal man. — But the mischief has been, 
that though so many good things have been 

8 



INQUIRY AFTER HAPPINESS 

said, they have generally had the fate to be 
considered either as the overflowings of disgust 
from sated appetites which could no longer 
relish the pleasures of life, or as the declama- 
tory opinions of recluse and splenetic men who 
had never tasted them at all, and consequently 
were thought no judges of the matter. So 
that 'tis no great wonder, if the greatest part 
of such reflections, however just in themselves 
and founded on truth and a knowledge of the 
worid, are found to leave Uttle impression 
where the imagination was already heated with 
great expectations of future happiness; and 
that the best lectures that have been read upon 
the vanity of the world, so seldom stop a man 
in the pursuit of the object of his desire, or 
give him half the conviction, that the posses- 
si<m of it will, and what the experience of 
his own life, or a careful observation upon the 
life of others, do at length generally confirm 
to us alL 

Let us endeavour then to try the cause upon 
this issue ; and instead of recurring to the com- 
mon arguments, or taking any one's word in 
the case, let us trust to matter of fact ; and if, 
upon inquiry, it appears that the actions of 
mankind are not to be accounted for upon any 



SERMON I 

other principle, but this of the insufficiency of 
our enjoyments, 'twill go Aurther towards the 
establishment of the truth of this part of the 
discourse, than a thousand speculative argu- 
ments which might be offered upon the 
occasion. 

Now, if we take a survey of the life of man 
fix>m the time he is come to reason, to the 
latest decline of it in old age — we shall find 
him engaged, and generally hurried on in such 
a succession of different pursuits, and different 
opinions of things, through the different stages 
of his life — as will admit of no explication, 
but this, that he finds no rest for the sole of his 
foot, on any of the plans where he has been led 
to expect it. 

The moment he is got loose fix>m tutors and 
governors, and is left to judge for himself, and 
pursue this scheme his own way — his first 
thoughts are generally full of the mighty hap- 
piness which he is going to enter upon, fix>m 
the free enjoyment of the pleasures in which 
he sees others of his age and fortune engaged. 

In consequence of this — take notice, how 
his imagination is caught by every glittering 
appearance that flatters this expectation. — 
Observe what impressions are made upon his 

10 



INQUIRY AFTER HAPPINESS 



- I K ^' 



by diversions, music, dress and beauty 
— and how his spuits are upon the wing, flying 
in pursuit of them ; that you would think he 
could never have enough. 

Leave him to himself a few years, till the 
edge of appetite is worn down — and you will 
acaice know him again. You will find him 
entered into engagements, and setting up for 
a man of business and conduct, talking of no 
other happiness but what centres in projects of 
making the most of this world, and providing 
for his children and children's children after 
them. Examine his notions, he will tell you, 
that the gayer pleasures of youth are only fit 
for thoae who know not how to dispose of 
themsdves and time to better advantage. 
That however fiur and promisinir they mii?ht 
wear to a man unpraLed inthem-they 
were no better than a life of folly and imperti- 
nence, and so far fix>m answering your expecta- 
tions of happiness, 'twas well if you escaped 
without pain. — That in every experiment he 
had tried, he had found more bitter than sweet, 
and, for the little pleasure one could snatch — 
it too often left a terrible sting behind it: 
Besides, did the balance lay on the other side, 
he would tell you there could be no true satis- 

11 



SERMON I 

faction where a life runs on in so giddy a circle, 
out of which a wise man should extricate him- 
self as soon as he can, that he may begin to 
look forwards. — That it becomes a man of 
character and consequence to lay aside childish 
things, to take care of his interests, to establish 
the fortune of his family, and place it out of 
want and dependence : and in a word, if there 
is such a thing as happiness upon earth, it must 
consist in the accomplishment of this ; — and 
for his own part, if Gk>d should prosper his 
endeavours so as to be worth such a sum, or to 
be able to bring such a point to bear — he shall 
be one of the happiest of the sons of men. — In 
full assurance of this, on he drudges — plots — 

contrives — rises early late takes rest, and 

eats the bread of carefulness, till at length by 
hard labour and perseverance, he has reached 
if not outgone the object he had first in view. 
— When he got thus far— if he is a phiin 
and sincere man, he will make no scruple to 
acknowledge truly what alteration he has 
found in himsel£ — If you ask him — he will 
tell you that his imagination painted some- 
thing before his eyes, the reality of which he 
has not yet attained to: that with all the 
accumulation of his wealth, he neither lives the 

19 



INQUIRY AFTER HAPPINESS 

merrier, sleeps the sounder, nor has less care 
and anxiety upon his spirits than at his first 
setting out 

Perhaps, you'll say, some dignity, honour, or 
title only is wanting — Oh ! could I accomplish 
that, as there would be nothing left then for 
me to wish, good Gkxi ! how happy should I 
be I Tis still the same — the dignity or titie 
— though they crown his head with honour — 
add not one cubit to his happiness. — Upon 
summing up the account, all is found to be 
seated merely in the imagination. — The faster 
he has pursued, the faster the phantom flies 
bef(Hre him; — and to use the satirist's com- 
parison of the chariot-wheels, — haste as they 
will, they must for ever keep tiie same distance. 

But what ? though I have been thus far dis- 
appointed in my expectations of happiness 
from the possession of riches — *^ Let me try 
whether I shaU not meet with-it in the spend- 
ing and fSetshionable enjoyment of them." 

Behold ! I will get me down, and make me 
great works, and build me houses, and plant 
me vineyards, and make me gardens and 
pools of water. And I will get me servants 
and maidens, and whatsoever my eyes desire, 
I will not keep from them. 

IS 



SERMON I 

In prosecution of this — he drops all painful 
pursuits — withdraws himself fix>m the busy 
part of the world — realises — pulls down — 
builds up again. — Buys statues, pictures — 
plants — and plucks up by the roots — levels 
mountains — and fills up valleys— turns rivers 
mto dry ground, and dr? ground into rivers. - 
Says unto this man, Gro, and he goeth, and 
unto another. Do this, and he doeth it, — and 
whatever his soul lusteth after of this kind, he 
withholds not from it When everjrthing is 
thus planned by himself, and executed accord- 
ing to his wish and direction, surely he is 
Wed to the accomplishment of his wishes, 
and has got to the summit of all human happi- 
ness ? — Let the most fortunate adventurers 
in this way answer the question for him, and 
say — how often it arises higher than a bare 
and simple amusement — and well, if you can 
compound for that — since 'tis often purchased 
at so high a price, and so soured by a mixture 
of other incidental vexations, as to become too 
oft;en a work of repentance, which in the end 
will extort the same sorrowful confession from 
him, which it did from Solomon in the like 
case, — ** Lo ! I looked on all the works that 
my hands had wrought, and on the labour that 

14 



INQUIRY AFTER HAPPINESS 

I had laboured to do — and behold all was 
vanity and vexation of spirit — and there was 
no profit to me under the sun."* 

To inflame this account the more — it would 
be no miracle, if upon casting it up he has gone 
fiotfaer lengths than he first intended, run into 
expenses which have entangled his fortune, and 
brought himself into such difficulties as to 
make way for the last experiment he can try 
— and that is to turn miser, with no happiness 
in view but what is to rise out of the little de- 
signs of a sordid mind, set upon saving and 
sending up all he has injudiciously spent 

In this last stage — behold him a poor 
trembling wretch, shut up from all mankind 

sinking into utter contempt; spending 

careful days and sleepless nights in pursuit of 
what a narrow and contracted heart can never 
enjoy : — and let us here leave him to the con- 
viction he will one day find — That there is 
no end of his labour — That his eyes will never 
be satisfied with riches, or will say — For 
whom do I labour and bereave myself of rest ? 
— This is also a sore travail. 

I believe this is no uncommon picture of the 
disappointments of human life — and the man- 
ner our pleasures and enjoyments slip from 

u 



SERMON I 

under us in every stage of our life. And 
though I would not be thought by it, as if I 
was denying the reaUty of pleasures, or dis- 
puting the being of them, any more than one 
would the reality of pain — yet I must observe 
on this head, that there is a plain distinction 
to be made betwixt pleasure and happiness. 
For though there can be no happiness without 
pleasure — yet the reverse of the proposition 
will not hold true. — We are so made, that 
from the common gratifications of our appe- 
tites, and the impressions of a thousand objects, 
we snatch the one, like a transient gleam, 
without being suffered to taste the other, and 
enjoy the perpetual sunshine and fair weather 
which constantly attend it This, I contend, 
is only to be found in religion — in the con- 
sciousness of virtue — and the sure and certain 
hopes of a better life, which brightens all our 
prospects, and leaves no room to dread dis- 
appointments — because the expectation of it 
is built upon a rock whose foundations are as 
deep as those of heaven and heU. 

And though in oin* pilgrimage through this 
world — some of us may be so fortunate as to 
meet with some clear fountains by the way, 
that may cool, for a few moments, the heat of 



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^^tr* the i: 

^ I'liis. J . 

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ii 



■ « 



INQUIRY AFTER HAPPINESS 

this great thirst of happiness — yet our Saviour, 
who knew the world, though he enjoyed but 
little of it, tells us, that whosoever drinketh of 
this water will thirst agam: — andwe all find 
by experience it is so, and by reason that it 
alwajrs must be so. 

I conclude with a short observation upon 
Solomon's evidence in this case. 

Never did the busy brain of a lean and 
hectic chemist search for the philosopher's 
stone with more pains and ardour than this 
great man did after happiness. He was one of 
tiie wisest inquirers into Natiu^ — had tried 
all her powers and capacities, and after a thou- 
suid vain speculations and vile experiments, he 
affirmed at length, it lay hid in no one thing 
he had tried ; like the chemist's projections, all 
had ended in smoke, or what was worse, in 
vanity and vexation of spirit : the conclusion 
of the whole matter was this — that he advises 
every man who would be happy, to fear Gkxi 
and keep his commandments. 



17 



SERMON II 

THE HOUSE OF FEASTING AND THE HOUSE 
OF MOURNING DESCRIBED 

It 11 better to go to the houae of mouning than to the home 
of liBiitmg. — EooLmAflTBS viL 2» 3. 

THAT I deny — but let us hear the wise 
man's reasoning upon it — for that is 
the end of all men^ and the UxAng will lay 
it to\m heart: sorrow is better than laughter 
— for a crack-brain'd order of Carthusian monks, 
I grant, but not for men of the world: For 
vrhat purpose, do you imagine, has Gkxi made 
us ? for the social sweets of the well- watered 
vaUejrs, where he has planted us, or for the dry 
and dismal desert of a Sierra Morena ? Are 
the sad accidents of life, and the uncheery 
hours which perpetually overtake us, are they 
not enough, but we must sally forth in quest 
of them, — belie our own hearts, and say as 
our text would have us, that they are better 
than those of joy ? did the Best of Beings send 
us into the world for this end — to go weeping 

19 



S£R»iON II 

throng it, — to vex and shorten a life short 
and vezatioas enough abeady ? do you thinks 
my good pneadier, that he who is infinitely 
hi^y, can envy us our enjoyments ? or that a 
Being so infinitdy kind would grudge a moum- 
fiil trayeDer the short rest and refreshments 
necessary to suppcxt his s[«rits throu^ the 
stages of a weaiy pilgrimage ? or that he would 
call him to a severe reckcming, because in his 
way he had hastily snatched at some little 
fugacious pleasures, merely to sweeten this 
uneasy journey of Ufe, and reconcile him to 
the ruggedness of the road, and the many hard 
jostlings he is sure to meet with ? Consider, 
I beseech you, ^diat provision and accommoda- 
ticm the Author of our being has prepared for 
us, that we mi^t not go on our way sorrow- 
ing — how many caravanseras of rest — what 
powers and £EU!idties he has given us for taking 
it — what apt objects he has placed in our way 
to entertain us ; — some of which he has made 
so £Eur, so exquisitely fitted for this end, that 
they have power over us for a time to charm 
away the sense of pain, to cheer up the de- 
jected heart under poverty and sickness, and 
make it go and remember its miseries no 
more. 

90 



FEASTING AND MOURNING 

I will not contend at present against this 
rhetoric ; I would choose rather for a moment 
to go on with the allegory, and say we are 
travellers, and, in the most affecting sense of 
that idea, that like travellers, though upon 
business of the last and nearest concern to us, 
we may surely be allowed to amuse ourselves 
with the natural or artificial beauties of the 
country we are passing through, without re- 
proach of forgetting the main errand we are 
sent upon ; and if we can so order it, as not 
to be led out of the way, by the variety of 
{nt)spects, edifices, and ruins which solicit us, it 
would be a nonsensical piece of saint-errantry, 
to shut our eyes. 

But let us not lose sight of the argument in 
poisuit of the simile. 

Let us remember, various as our excursions 
are — that we have still set our faces towards 
Jerusalem — that we have a place of rest and 
happiness, towards which we hasten, and that 
the way to get there is not so much to please 
our hearts, as to improve them in virtue ; — 
that mirth and feasting are usually no friends 

to achievements of this kind but that a 

season of afiliction is in some sort a season of 
[Hety — not only because our sufferings are apt 

^1 



SERMON II 

to put us in mind of our sins, but that by the 
check and interruption which they give to our 
pursuits, they allow us what the hurry and 
bustle of the world too often deny us, — and 
that is, a little time for reflection, which is all 
that most of us want to make us wiser and 
better men; — that at certain times it is so 
necessary a man's mind should be turned 
towards itself, that rather than want occasions, 
he had better purchase them at the expense of 
his present happiness. — He had better, as the 
text expresses it, go to the house of mournings 
where he will meet with something to subdue 
his passions, than to the house of feasting, 
wHere the joy and gaiety of the place is likely 
to excite them: That whereas the entertain- 
ments and caresses of the one place expose his 
heart and lay it open to temptations — the 
sorrows of the other defend it, and as naturally 
shut them from it. So strange and unaccount- 
able a creature is man I he is so framed, that 
he cannot but pursue happiness — and yet un- 
less he is made sometimes miserable, how apt 
he is to mistake the way which can only lead 
him to the accomplishment of his own wishes ! 
This is the full force of the wise man's 
declaration. — But to do further justice to his 

92 



FEASTING AND MOURNING 

words, I will endeavour to bring the subject 
still nearer. — For which purpose, it will be 
necessaiy to stop here, and take a transient 
view of the two places here referred to, — the 
house of mourning, and the house of feasting. 
Give me leave therefore, I beseech you, to 
recall both of them for a moment, to your 
imaginations, that fix)m thence I may appeal 
to your hearts, how faithfiilly, and upon what 
good grounds, the effects and natural opera- 
tions of each upon our minds are intimated in 
the text 

And first, let us look into the house of 
feasting. 

And here, to be as fair and candid as possible 
in the description of this, we will not take it 
from the worst originals, such as are opened 
merely for the sale of virtue, and so calculated 
for the end, that the disguise each is under, not 
only gives power safely to drive on the bargain, 
but safely to carry it into execution too. 

This we will not suppose to be the case — 
nor let us even imagine the house of feasting 
to be such a scene of intemperance and excess, 

as the house of feasting does often exhibit 

but let us take it from one, as little exception- 
able as we can — where there is, or at least 

93 



SERMON II 

appears, nothing really criminal — but where 
everything seems to be kept within the visible 
bounds of moderation and sobriety. 

Imagine then such a house of feasting, where, 
either by consent or invitation, a number of 
each sex is drawn together, for no other purpose 
but the enjoyment and mutual entertainment 
of each other, which we will suppose shall arise 
from no other pleasures but what custom 
authorises, and religion does not absolutely 
forbid. 

Before we enter let us examine, what 

must be the sentiments of each individual 
previous to his arrival, and we shall find, that 
however they may differ from one another in 
tempers and opinions, that every one seems 
to agree in this — that as he is going to a house 
dedicated to joy and mirth, it was fit he should 
divest himself of whatever was likely to con- 
tradict that intention, or be inconsistent with 
it — That for this purpose, he had left his 
cares — his serious thoughts — and his moral 
reflections behind him, and was come forth 
from home with only such dispositions and 
gaiety of heart as suited the occasion, and 
promoted the intended mirth and jollity of the 
place. With this preparation of mind, which 



FEASTING AND MOURNING 

is as little as can be supposed, since it will 
amount to no more than a desire in each to 
render himself an acceptable guest, — let us 
conceive them entering into the house of feast- 
ing, with hearts set loose from grave restraints, 
and open to the expectations of receiving 
pleasure. It is not necessary, as I premised, 
to bring intemperance into this scene — or to 
suppose such an excess in the gratification of 
the appetites, as shall ferment the blood and 
set the desires in a flame: — Let us admit no 
more of it, therefore, than will gently stir 
them, and fit them for the impressions which 
so benevolent a commerce will naturally excite. 
In this disposition, thus wrought upon before- 
hand, and already improved to this purpose, — 
take notice how mechanically the thoughts 
and spirits rise — how soon and insensibly they 
are got above the pitch and first bounds which 
cooler hours would have marked. 

When the gay and smiling aspect of things 
has begun to leave the passages to a man's 
heart thus thoughtlessly unguarded — when 
kind and caressing looks of every object with- 
out, that can flatter his senses, have conspired 
with the enemy within, to betray him, and 
put him off* his defence, — when music likewise 

25 



SERMON II 

hath lent her aid, and tried her power upon the 
passions, — when the voice of singing men, and 
the voice of singing women, with the somid of 
the viol and the lut^ have broke in upon his 
soul, and in some tender notes have touched 
the secret springs of rapture, — that moment 
let us dissect and look into his heart, — see 
how vain I how weak I how empty a thing it 
is I Look through its several recesses, — those 
pure mansions formed for the reception of 
innocence and virtue — sad spectacle I Be- 
hold those fair inhabitants now dispossessed — 
turned out of their sacred dwellings, to make 
room — for what ? — at the best for levity and 
indiscretion — perhaps for folly — it may be for 
more impure guests, which possibly in so gen- 
eral a riot of the mind and senses, may take 
occasion to enter unsuspected at the same time. 
In a scene and disposition thus described — 
can the most cautious say — thus far shall my 
desires go — and no farther ? or will the coolest 
and most circumspect say, when pleasure has 
taken ftill possession of his heart, that no 
thought nor purpose shall arise there, which he 

would have concealed ? In those loose and 

unguarded moments the imagination is not 
always at command — in spite of reason and 

96 



FEASTING AND MOURNING 

reflection, it will forcibly carry him sometimes 
idiitiier he would not — like the unclean 
spirit, in the parent's sad description of his 
child's case, which took him, and ofttimes cast 
him into the fire to destroy him, and whereso- 
ever it taketh him it teareth him, and hardly 
departeth fix>m Imn. 

But this, you'll say, is the worst account of 
what the mind may suffer here. 

Why may we not make more favourable 

suppositions? that numbers by exercise 

and custom to such encounters, learn gradually 
to despise and triumph over them ; — that the 
minds of many are not so susceptible of warm 
impressions, or so badly fortified against them, 
that pleasure should easily corrupt or soften 
them ; — that it would be hard to suppose, of 
the great multitudes which daily throng and 
press into this house of feasting, but that 
numbers come out of it again, with all the 
innocence with which they entered ; — and that 
if both sexes are included in the computation, 
what fair examples shall we see of many of 
so pure and chaste a turn of mind — that 
the house of feasting, with all its charms 
and temptations, was never able to excite a 
thought, or awaken an inclination which virtue 

^7 



SERMON II 

need to blush at — or which the most scru- 
pulous conscience might not support Gkxl 
forbid we should say otherwise : — No doubt, 
niunbers of all ages escape unhurt, and get off 
this dangerous sea without shipwreck. Yet 
are they not to be reckoned amongst the 
more fortunate adventurers ; — and though one 
would not absolutely prohibit the attempt, or 
be so cynical as to condemn every one who 
tries it, since there are so many, I suppose, who 
cannot well do otherwise, and whose condition 
and situation in life unavoidably force them 
upon it — yet we may be allowed to describe 
this fair and flattering coast — we may point 
out the unsuspected dangers of it, and warn 
the unwary passenger where they lie. We 
may show him what hazards his youth and in- 
experience will run, how little he can gain by 
the venture, and how much wiser and better 
it would be (as is implied in the text) to seek 
occasions rather to improve his little stock of 
virtue, than incautiously expose it to so un- 
equal a chance, where the best he can hope is 
to return safe with what treasure he carried out 
— but where, probably, he may be so unfortu- 
nate as to lose it all — be lost himself^ — and 
undone for ever. 

98 



FEASTING AND MOURNING 

Thus much for the house of feasting ; which, 
by the way, though generally open at other 
times of tiie year throughout the world, is 
supposed, in Christian countries, now every- 
^ere to be imiversally shut up. And, in truth, 
I have been more fiill in my cautions against it, 
not only as reason requires, — but in reverence 
to this season,* wherein our Church exacts a 
more particular forbearance and self-denial in 
this point, and thereby adds to the restraints 
upon pleasure and entertainments which this 
representation of things has suggested agamst 
them already. 

Here, then, let us turn aside fix>m this gay 
scene ; and suffer me to take you with me for 
a moment to one much fitter for your medita- 
tion. Let us go into the house of mourning, 
made so by such afflictions as have been 
brought in, merely by the conunon cross acci- 
dents and disasters to which our condition is 
exposed, — where, perhaps, the aged parents 
sit broken-hearted, pierced to their souls with 
the folly and indiscretion of a thankless child 
— the child of their prayers, in whom all their 
hopes and expectations centered: — perhaps 
a more affecting scene a virtuous family 

* Preached in Lent 



99 



SERMON II 

lying pinched with want, where the unfortu- 
nate support of it having long struggled with 
a train of misfortunes, and bravely fought up 
against them — is now piteously borne down 
at the last — overwhelmed with a cruel blow 
which no forecast or fiiigality could have pre- 
vented. — O God 1 look upon his afflictions 
— Behold him distracted with many sorrows, 
surrounded with the tender pledges of his love, 
and the partner of his cares — without bread 
to give them, unable, from the remembrance 
of better days, to dig ; — to beg, ashamed. 

When we enter into the house of mourning 
such as this — it is impossible to insult the 
unfortunate even with an improper look — 
Under whatever levity and dissipation of heart, 
such objects catch our eyes, — they catch like- 
wise our attentions, collect and call home our 
scattered thoughts, and exercise them with 
wisdom. A transient scene of distress, such 
as is here sketched, how soon does it furnish 
materials to set the mind at work ? how neces- 
sarily does it engage it to the consideration of 
the miseries and misfortunes, the dangers and 
calamities to which the life of man is subject ? 
By holding up such a glass before it, it forces 
the mind to see and reflect upon the vanity, — 

30 



FEASTING AND MOURNING 

the perishing condition and uncertain tenure 
of everything in this world. From reflections 
of this serious cast, how insensibly do the 
thoughts carry us farther? — and fix)m con- 
sidering, what we are — what kind of world 
we live in, and what evils befall us in it, how 
naturally do they set us to look forwards at 
what possibly we shall be ? — for what kind of 
world we are intended — what evils may be- 
£Edl us there — and what provision we should 
make against them here, whilst we have time 
and opportunity. 

If these lessons are so inseparable jfrom the 
house of mourning here supposed — we shall 
find it a still more instructive school of wisdom 
^en we take a view of the place in that more 
affecting light in which the wise man seems to 
confine it in the text, in which, by the house 
of mourning, I believe, he means tiiat particu- 
lar scene of sorrow, where there is lamentation 
and mourning for the dead. 

Turn in hither, I beseech you, for a moment. 
Behold a dead man ready to be carried out, 
the only son of his mother and she a widow. 
Perhaps a more affecting spectacle a kind and 
indulgent father of a numerous family, lies 
breathless snatched away in the strength 

31 



tL.~. ji 



SERMON II 

of his age torn in an evil hour from his 

children and the bosom of a disconsolate 
wife. 

Behold much people of the city gathered 
together to mix their tears, with settled sorrow 
in their looks, going heavily along to the house 
of mourning, to perform that last melancholy 
office, which, when the debt of nature is paid, 
we are called upon to pay to each other. 

If this sad occasion which leads him there, 
has not done it already, take notice, to what a 
serious and devout frame of mind every man is 
reduced, the moment he enters this gate of 
affliction. The busy and fluttering spirits, 
which in the house of mirth were wont to 
transport him from one diverting object to 
another — see how they are fallen 1 how peace- 
ably they are laid I In this gloomy mansion 
full of shades and uncomfortable damps to 
seize the soul — see, the light and easy heart, 
which never knew what it was to think before, 
how pensive it is now, how soft, how suscep- 
tible, how fiill of religious impressions, how 
deeply it is smitten with sense and with a love 
of virtue. Could we, in this crisis, whilst this 
empire of reason and religion lasts, and the 
heart is thus exercised with wisdom and busied 

3^ 



FEASTING AND MOURNING 

heavenly contemplations — could we see 
it naked as it is — stripped of its passions, 
unspotted by the world, and regardless of its 
pleasures — we might then safely rest our cause 
upon this smgle evidence, and appeal to the 
most sensual, whether Solomon has not made a 
just determination here, in favour of the house 
of mourning ? — not for its own sake, but as it 
is fruitful in virtue, and becomes the occasion 
of so much good. Without this end, sorrow I 
own has no use but to shorten a man's days — 
nor can gravity, with all its studied solemnity 
of look and carriage, serve any end but to 
make one half of the world merry, and impose 
upon the other. 

Consider what has been said, and may Gkxi 
of his mercy bless you I Amen. 



S3 



SERMON III 

PHILANTHROPY RECOMMENDED 

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto 
him that fell among the thieves ? — And he said, He that showed 
mercjT on him. Then said Jesus unto him — Go, and do thou 
likewise. — LuKS x. 36, 37. 

IN the foregoing verses of this chapter, the 
Evangelist relates, that a certain lawyer 
stood up and tempted Jesus, saying, Mas- 
ter, what shall I do to inherit eternal life ? — To 
which inquiry our Saviour, as his manner was, 
when any ensnaring question was put to him, 
which he saw proceeded more fix>m a design to 
entangle him, than an honest view of getting 
information — instead of giving a direct answer 
which might afford a handle to malice, or 
at best serve only to gratify an impertinent 
humour — he immediately retorts the question 
upon the man who asked it, and unavoidably 
puts him upon the necessity of answering 
himself; — and, as in the present case, the 
particular profession of the inquirer, and 
his supposed general knowledge of all other 

35 



SERMON III 

branches of learning, left no room to suspect 
he could be ignorant of the true answer to this 
question, and especially of what every one 
knew was delivered upon that head by their 
great Legislator our Saviour therefore refers 
him to his own memory of what he had foimd 
there in the course of his studies. — What is 
written in the law, how readest thou ? — Upon 
which the inquirer reciting the general heads 
of our duty to God and man, as delivered in 
the 18th of Leviticus and the 6th of Deuter- 
onomy, — namely — TTutt we shcndd worship 
the Lord our God with all our hearts^ and love 
our neighbour a^ ourselves ; our blessed Saviour 
tells him, he had answered right, and if he fol- 
lowed that lesson, could not £eu1 of the blessing 
he seemed desirous to inherit — This do^ and 
thou shalt Uve. 

But he, as the context tells us, willing to 
justify himself — willing possibly to gain more 
credit in the conference, or hoping perhaps to 
hear such a partial and narrow definition of the 
word neighbour as would suit his own prin- 
ciples, and justify some particular oppressions 
of his own, or those of which his whole order 
lay under an accusation — says unto Jesus in 
the 29th verse — And who is my nei^ibourl 

S6 



PHILANTHROPY RECOMMENDED 

Though the demand at first sight may seem 
utterly trifling, yet was it far from being so in 
fiicL For according as you understood the 
term in a more or less restrained sense — it 
ptxluced many necessary variations in the 
duties you owed from that relation. — Our 
blessed Saviour, to rectify any partial and per- 
nicious mistake in this matter, and to place at 
once this duty of the love of our neighbour 
upon its true bottom of philanthropy and imi- 
versal kindness, makes answer to the proposed 
question, not by any far-fetched refinement 
from the schools of tlie Rabbies, which might 
have sooner silenced than convinced the man 
— but by a direct appeal to human nature in 
an instance he relates of a man falling among 
thieves, left m the greatest distress hnaginable, 
tiU by chance a Samaritan, an utter stranger, 
coming where he was, by an act of great good- 
ness and compassion, not only relieved him at 
present, but took him under his protection, and 
generously provided for his future safety. 

On the close of which engaging account 

our Saviour appeals to the man's own heart in 
the first verse of the text — Which now of these 
tkreCy thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that 
fell among thieves? and instead of drawing 

37 



SERMON III 

the inference himself, leaves him to decide in 
favom* of so noble a principle so evidently 
fomided on mercy. — The lawyer, struck with 
the truth and justice of the doctrine, and frankly 
acknowledging the force of it, our blessed Sav- 
iour concludes the debate with a short admo- 
nition, that he would practise what he had 
approved — and go, and imitate that faur ex- 
ample of imiversal benevolence which it had 
set before him. 

In the remaining part of the discourse I 
shall follow the same plan ; and therefore shall 
beg leave to enlarge first upon the story itself, 
with such reflections as will arise frt)m it ; and 
conclude, as our Saviour has done, with the 
same exhortation to kindness and humanity 
which so naturally falls from it. 

A certain man, says our Saviour, went down 
from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among 
thieves, who stripped him of his raiment, and 
departed, leaving him half-dead. There is 
something in our nature which engages us to 
take part in every accident to which man is 
subject, from what cause soever it may have 
happened ; but in such calamities as a man has 
fallen into through mere misfortune, to be 
charged upon no fault or indiscretion of him- 

S8 



PHILANTHROPY RECOMMENDED 

self, there is something then so truly interesting, 
that at the first sight we generally make them 
our own, not altogether from a reflection that 
they might have been or may be so, but oftener 
from a certain generosity and tenderness of 
nature which disposes us for compassion, ab- 
stracted from all considerations of self : so that 
without any observable act of the will, we 
suffer with the unfortunate, and feel a weight 
upon our spirits we know not why, on seeing 
the most common instances of their distress. 
But where the spectacle is uncommonly tragi- 
cal, and compUcated with many circumstances 
of misery, the mind is then taken captive at 
once, and were it inclined to it, has no power 
to make resistance, but surrenders itself to all 
the tender emotions of pity and deep concern. 
So that when one considers this friendly part 
of our nature without looking farther, one 
would think it impossible for a man to look 
upon misery without finding himself in some 
measure attached to the interest of him who 
suffers it — T say, one would think it impossible 
— for there are some tempers — how shall I 

describe them ? formed either of such 

impenetrable matter, or wrought up by habit- 
ukl selfishness to such an utter insensibility of 



SERMON III 

what becomes of the fortunes of their fellow- 
creatures, as if they were not partakers of the 
same nature, or had no lot or connection at all 
with the species. 

Of this character, our Saviour produces two 
disgraceful instances in the behaviour of a 
Priest and a Levite, whom in this account he 
represents as coming to the place where the 
unhappy man was ; — both passing by without 
either stretching forth a hand to assist, or ut- 
tering a word to comfort him in his distress. 

And by chance there came down a certain 
priest I — Merciful Gkxll that a teacher of thy 
religion should ever want humanity — or that a 
man, whose head might be thought fiill of the 
one, should have a heart void of the other I — 
This however was the case before us — and 
though in theory one would scarce suspect that 
the least pretence to religion, and an open dis- 
regard to so main a part of it, could ever meet 
together in one person ; — yet in fact it is no 
fictitious character. 

Look into the world — How often do you 
behold a sordid wretch, whose strait heart is 
open to no man's affliction, taking shelter be- 
hind an appearance of piety, and putting on 
the garb of religion, which none but the merci- 

40 



PHILANTHROPY RECOMMENDED 

fill and compassionate have a title to wear. 
Take notice with what sanctity he goes to the 
end of his days, in the same selfish track in 
which he at first set out — turning neither to 
the right hand nor to the left — but plods on 
— pores all his life long upon the ground, as if 
afraid to look up, lest peradventure he should 
see aught which might turn him one moment 
out of that straight line where interest is car- 
rying him; or if, by chance, he stum- 
bles upon a hapless object of distress, which 
threatens such a disaster to him — like the 
man here represented, devoutly passing by on 
the other side, as if unwillmg to trust hunself 
to the impressions of nature, or hazard the 
inconveniences which pity might lead him into 
upon the occasion. 

There is but one stroke wanting in this pic- 
ture of an unmerciful man, to render the char- 
acter utterly odious, and that our Saviour gives 
in the following instance he relates upon it. 
And likewise, says he, a Levite^ when he was at 
the place^ came and looked at him. It was not 
a transient oversight, the hasty or ill-advised 
neglect of an unconsidering humour, with 
which the best disposed are sometimes over- 
taken, and led on beyond the point where 

41 



SERMON III 

otherwise they would have wished to stop — 
No 1 on tJie contrary, it had all the aggra- 
vation of a deliberate act of insensibility pro- 
ceeding from a hard heart When he was at 
the place, he came and looked at him, — con- 
sidered his misfortunes, gave time for reason 
and nature to have awoke — saw the imminent 
danger he was in — and the pressing necessity 
of inmiediate help, which so violent a case 
called aloud for ; and after all — turned aside, 
and unmercifully left him to all the distresses 
of his condition. 

In all unmerciful actions the worst of men 
pay this compliment at least to humanity, as 
to endeavour to wear as much of the appear- 
ance of it, as the case will well let them ; — so 
that in the hardest acts a man shall be guilty 
of, he has some motives, true or false, always 
ready to oflfer, either to satisfy himself or the 
world, — and, God knows, too often to impose 
upon both the one and the other. And there- 
fore it would be no hard matter here to give a 
probable guess at what passed in the Levite's 
mind in the present case, and show, was it nec- 
essary, by what kind of casuistry he settled 
the matter with his conscience as he passed 
by, and guarded all the passages to his heart 

49 



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t !. 



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I • . . 



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Ml' h of *■ 



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;|-f.! I : ,.j„ l.tj., t.,.. ., t,,.,; ..», :'.'. V , 

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\ ' 



I 



PHILANTHROPY RECOMMENDED 

against the inroads which pity might attempt 
to make upon the occasion. — But it is painfiil 
to dweU long upon this disagreeable part of the 
story ; I therefore hasten to the concluding in- 
cident of it, which is so amiable, that one can- 
not easily be too copious in reflections upon it. 
— And behold, says our Saviour, a certain 
Samaritan as he journeyed came where he was ; 
and when he saw him he had compassion on 
him — and went to him — bound up his 
wounds, pouring in oil and wine— set him 
upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and 
took care of Imn. I suppose, it will be scarce 
necessary here to remind you that the Jews 
had no dealings with the Samaritans — an old 
religious grudge — the worst of all grudges, 
had wrought such a dislike between both peo- 
ple, that they held themselves mutually dis- 
charged not only from all offices of friendship 
and kindness, but even from the most common 
acts of courtesy and good manners. This 
operated so strongly in our Saviour's time, 
that the woman of Samaria seemed astonished 
that he, being a Jew, should ask water of her 
who was a Samaritan ; — so that with such a 
prepossession, however distressful the case of 
the unfortunate man was, and how reasonably 

43 



SERMON III 

soever he might plead for pity from another 
man, there was Uttle aid or consolation to be 
looked for from so mipromising a quarter. 
Alast after I have been twice passed by, Tieg- 
Uctedhymm of my aam nation and religion, 
bound by so many ties to a^ssist me, left here 
friendless and unpitied both by a Priest and 
a Levite, men whose profession and superior 
advantages of knowledge could not leave them 
in the dark in what manner they should dis- 
charge this debt which my condition chims — 
cfter this — wJiat hopes? what eapectations 
from apa^enger, not only a stranger, — but a 
Samaritan released from aU obligations to me, 
and by a national dislike itemed by mutual ill 
offices, mnv made my enemy, andmore likely to 
rejoice [at the evils which have fallen upon ms, 
than to stretch forth a hand to save m^from 
them! 

'Tis no mmatural soliloquy to imagine ; but 
the actions of generous and compassionate 
tempers baffle all little reasonings about them. 
— True charity, in the Apostle's description, 
as it is kind, and is not easily provoked, so it 

manifested this character here ; for we find 

when he came where he was, and beheld his 
distress, — all the imfriendly passions, which at 

44 



PHILANTHROPY RECOMMENDED 

another time might have rose within him, now 
utterly forsook him and fled : when he saw his 
misfortunes — he forgot his enmity towards 
the man, — dropped all the prejudices which 
education had planted against him, and in the 
room of them, all that was good and compas- 
sionate was suffered to speak in his behalf. 

In benevolent natures the impulse to pity is 
so sudden, that like instruments of music which 

obey the touch the objects which are fitted 

to excite such impressions work so instan- 
taneous an effect, that you would think the 
will was scarce concerned, and that the mind 
was altogether passive in the sympathy which 
her own goodness has excited. The truth is 
— the soul is generally in such cases so busily 
taken up and wholly engrossed by the object 
of pity, that she does not attend to her own 
operations, or take leisure to examine the prin- 
ciples upon which she acts. So that the Sa- 
maritan, though the moment he saw him he 
had compassion on him, yet, sudden as the 
emotion is represented, you are not to imagine 
that it was mechanical, but that there was a 
settled principle of humanity and goodness 
which operated within him, and influenced not 
only the first impulse of kindness but the con- 



SERMON III 

tinuation of it throughout the rest of so engag- 
ing a behaviour. And because it is a pleasure 
to look into a good mind, and trace out as far 
as one is able, what passes within it on such 
occasions, I shall beg leave for a moment to 
state an account of what was likely to pass in 
his, and in what manner so distressful a case 
would necessarily work upon such a disposition. 
As he approached the place where the unfor- 
tunate man lay, the instant he beheld him, no 
doubt some such train of reflections as these 
would rise in his mind. ''Gk>od Gkxll what 

a spectacle of misery do 1 behold I a 

man stripped of his raiment — wounded — 
lying languishing before me upon the ground, 
just ready to expire, — without the comfort of 
a friend to support him in his last agonies, or 
the prospect of a hand to close his eyes when 
his pains are over. But perhaps my concern 
should lessen when I reflect on the relations in 
which we stand to each other — that he is a 
Jew, and I a Samaritan. — But are we not still 
both men ; partakers of the same nature — 
and subject to the same evils? — let me 
change conditions with him for a moment and 
consider, had his lot befallen me as I journeyed 
in the way, what measure I should have ex- 

46 



IILANTHROPY RECOMMENDED 

pected at his hand. — Should I wish, when he 
beheld me wounded and half dead, that he 
should shut up his bowels of compassion from 
me, and double the weight of my miseries by 
passing by and leaving them unpitied 1 — But 
I am a stranger to the man ; — be it so — but I 
am no stranger to his condition — misfortunes 
are of no particular tribe or nation, but belong 
to us all ; — and have a general claim upon us, 
without distinction of climate, country, or re- 
ligion. Besides, though I am a stranger — 
'tis no fault of his that I do not know him, 
and therefore unequitable he should suffer by 
it : — Had I known him, possibly I should 
have had cause to love and pity him the more 
— for aught I know, he is some one of uncom- 
mon merit, whose life is rendered still more 
precious, as the lives and happiness of others 
may be involved in it : perhaps at this instant 
that he hes here forsaken, in all this misery, a 
whole virtuous family is joyfully looking for 
his return, and affectionately counting the 
hours of his delay. Oh I did they know what 
evil had befallen him — how would they fly to 
succour him I — Let me then hasten to supply 
those tender offices of binding up his wounds, 
and carrying him to a place of safety — or if 



SERMON III 

that assistance comes too late, I shall comfort 
him at least in his last hour — and, if I can do 
nothing else, — I shall soften his misfortmies 
by dropping a tear of pity over them." 

Tis almost necessary to imagine the good 
Samaritan was influenced by some such 
thoughts as these, from the uncommon gener- 
osity of his behaviour, which is represented by 
our Saviour operating like the warm zeal of a 
brother, mixed with the affectionate discretion 
and care of a parent, who was not satisfied with 
taking him under his protection, and supplying 
his present wants, but in lookimr forwards for 
hinC and taking care that his wants should 
be supplied when he should be gone, and no 
longer near to befriend him. 

I think there needs no stronger argument 
to prove how universally and deeply the seeds 
of this virtue of compassion are planted in the 
heart of man, than in the pleasure we take in 
such representations of it : and though some 
men have represented human nature in other 
colours (though to what end I know not), yet 
the matter of fact is so strong against them, 
that from the general propensity to pity the 
unfortunate, we express that sensation by the 
word Humaruty^ as if it was inseparable from 

48 



PHILANTHROPY RECOMMENDED 

our nature. That it is not inseparable^ I have 
allowed in the former part of this discourse, 
from some reproachful instances of selfish tem- 
pers, which seem to take part in nothing be- 
yond themselves ; yet I am persuaded, and 
affirm, 'tis still so great and noble a part of 
our nature, that a man must do great violence 
to himself, and sufier many a painfiil confiict, 
before he has brought himself to a difierent 
disposition. 

Tis observable m the foregomg account, 
that when the Priest came to the place where 
he was, he passed by on the other side — he 
might have passed by, you'll say, without turn- 
ing aside. — No, there is a secret shame which 
attends every act of inhumanity, not to be 
conquered in the hardest natures so that, as in 
other cases, so especially in this, many a man 
will do a cruel act, who at the same time will 
blush to look you in the face, and is forced to 
turn aside before he can have a heart to exe- 
cute his purpose. 

Inconsistent creature that man is 1 who at 
that instant that he does what is wrong, is not 
able to withhold his testimony to what is good 
and praiseworthy. 

I have now done with the parable, which 

49 



SERMON III 

was the first thing proposed to be considered 
in this discourse; and should proceed to the 
second, which so naturally falls from it, of 
exhorting you, as our Saviour did the lawyer 
upon it, to ^ and do so likewise : but I have 
been so copious in my reflections upon the 
story itself, that I find I have insensibly incor- 
porated into them almost all that I should 
have said here in recommending so amiable an 
example; by which means I have unawares 
anticipated the task I proposed. I shall there- 
fore detain you no longer than with a single 
remark upon the subject in general, which is 
this : 'Tis observable in many places of Scrip- 
ture, that our blessed Saviour, in describing the 
day of judgment, does it in such a manner, as 
if the great inquiry then, was to relate princi- 
pally to this one virtue of compassion — and 
as if our final sentence at that solemnity was 
to be pronounced exactly according to the 
degrees of it. " 1 was an hungred and ye gave 
me meat — thirsty and ye gave me drink — 
naked and ye clothed me — I was sick and ye 
visited me — in prison and ye came unto me.** 
Not that we are to imagine from thence, as if 
any other good or evil action should then be 
overlooked by the eye of the All-seeing Judge, 

50 



PHILANTHROPY RECOMMENDED 

but barely to intimate to us, that a charitable 
and benevolent disposition is so principal and 
ruling a part of a man's character, as to be a 
considerable test by itself of the whole frame 
and temper of his mind, with which aU other 
virtues and vices respectively rise and fall, and 
will almost necessarily be connected. — Tell me 
therefore of a compassionate man, you repre- 
sent to me a man of a thousand other good 

qualities on whom I can depend 

whom I may safely trust with my wife 

my children, my fortune and reputation — 'Tis 
for this, as the Apostle argues from the same 
principle — " that he will not conmiit adultery 

— that he will not kill — that he will not steal 

— that he will not bear false witness," That 
is, the sorrows which are stirred up in men's 
hearts by such trespasses, are so tenderly felt 
by a compassionate man, that it is not in his 
power or his nature to commit them. 

So that well might he conclude, that Charity, 
by which he means, love to your neighbour, 
was the end of the commandment, and that 
whosoever fulfilled it, had fulfilled the law. 

Now to God, &c. Amen. 



51 



SERMON IV 

SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

And DaTid*8 anger was greatly kindled against the man : and 
be add to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done 
this thing shall snrelj die, &c . . . And Nathan said to David, 
Tboa art the man. — 2 Samthbl xiL 7, 1st part 

THERE is no historical passage in Scrip- 
ture, which gives a more remarkable 
instance of the deceitfulness of the heart 
of man to itself, and of how little we truly know 
of ourselves, than this, wherein David is con- 
victed out of his own mouth, and is led by the 
prc^het to condemn and pronounce a severe 
judgment upon another, for an act of injustice, 
whidi he had passed over in himself, and pos- 
sibly reconciled to his own conscience. To 
know one's self, one would think could be no 

very difficult lesson ; for who you'll say 

can well be truly ignorant of himself and the 
true disposition of his own heart ? If a man 
thinks at all, he cannot be a stranger to what 
passes there — he must be conscious of his 
own thoughts and desires, he must remember 



SERMON IV 

his past pursuits, and the true springs and 
motives which in general have directed the 
actions of his life: he may hang out false 
colours and deceive the world, but how can a 

man deceive himself? That a man can 

is evident, because he daily does so. Scrip- 
ture tells us, and gives us many historical proofs 
of it, besides this to which the text refers — 
" that the heart of man is treacherous to itself 
and deceitful above all things^^ and experience 
and every hour's commerce with the world 
confirms the truth of this seeming paradox, 
"That though man is the only creature en- 
dowed with reflection, and consequently quali- 
fied to know the most of himself — yet so it 
happens, that he generally knows the least — 
and with all the power which Gk)d has given 
him of turning his eyes inward upon himself, 
and taking notice of the chain of his own 
thoughts and desires — yet, in fact, is generally 
so inattentive, but always so partial an observer 
of what passes, that he is as much, nay often, 
a much greater stranger to his own disposition 
and true character, than all the world besides," 
By what means he is brought under so man- 
ifest a delusion, and how he suflfers himself to 
be so grossly imposed upon in a point which 



SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

he is capable of knowing so much better than 
others, is not hard to give an account of, nor 
need we seek farther for it, than amongst the 
causes which are every day perverting his 
reason and misleading him. We are decided 
in judging of ourselves, just as we are in judg- 
ing of other things, when our passions and 
inclinations are called in as counsellors, and we 
suffer ourselves to see and reason just so far 
and no farther than they give us leave. How 
hard do we find it to pass an equitable and 
soimd judgment in a matter where our interest 
is deeply concerned 1 — and even where there 
is the remotest consideration of self, connected 
with the point before us, what a strange bias 
does it hang upon our mind, and how difficult is 
it to disengage our judgments entirely fi*om it 1 
with what reluctance are we brought to think 
evil of a firiend whom we have long loved and 
esteemed I and though there happens to be 
strong appearances against him, how apt are 
we to overlook or put favourable constructions 
upon them, and even sometimes, when our zeal 
and friendship transport us, to assign the best 
and kindest motives for the worst and most 
unjustifiable parts of his conduct ! 
We are still worse casuists, and the deceit is 

ss 



SERMON IV 

proportionably stronger with a man, when he 
is going to judge of himself — that dearest of 

all parties, so closely connected with 

him — so much and so long beloved — of whom 
he has so early conceived the highest opinion 
and esteem, and with whose merit he has all 
along, no doubt, found so much reason to 
be contented. It is not an easy matter to be 
severe, where there is such an impulse to be 
kind, or to efface at once all the tender impres- 
sions in favour of so old a friend, which disabled 
us from thinking of him as he is, and seeing 
him in the light, may be, in which every one 
else sees him. 

So that however easy this knowledge of one's 
sdf may appear at first sight, it is otherwise 
when we come to examine ; since not only in 
practice, but even in speculation and theory, 
we find it one of the hardest and most painful 
lessons. Some of the earliest instructors of 
mankind, no doubt, foimd it so too, and for 
that reason, soon saw the necessity of laying 
such a stress upon this great precept of self- 
knowledge, which, for its excellent wisdom 
and usefrdness, many of them supposed to be 
a divine direction ; that it came down from 
heaven, and comprehended the whole circle 

56 



SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

both of the knowledge and the duty of man. 
And indeed their zeal might easily be allowed 
in so high an encomium upon the attainment 
of a virtue, the want of which so often baffled 
their instructions, and rendered their endeavours 
of reforming the heart vain and useless. For 
who could think of a reformation of the faults 
without him, who knew not where they lay, or 
could set about correcting, till he had first 
come to a sense of the defects which required 
it? 

But this was a point alwajrs much easier rec- 
ommended by public instructors than shown 
how to be put in practice: and therefore 
others, who equally sought the reformation 
of mankind, observing that this direct road 
which led to it was guarded on all sides by 
self-love, and consequentiy very difficult to 
open access, soon found out that a different 
and more artful course was requisite ; as they 
had not strength to remove this flattering 
passion which stood in their way and blocked 
up all the passages to the heart, they endeav- 
oured by stratagem to get beyond it, and 
by a skilfid address, if possible, to deceive it 
This gave rise to the early manner of con- 
vejong their instructions in parables, fiables, 

57 



SERMON IV 

and such sort of indirect applications, which, 
though they could not conquer this principle 
of self-love, yet often laid it asleep, or at least 
overreached it for a few moments, till a just 
judgment could be procured. 

The prophet Nathan seems to have been a 
great master in this way of address. David 
had greatly displeased God by two grievous 
sins which he had committed, and the proph- 
et's commission was to go and bring him 
to a conviction of them, and touch his heart 
with a sense of guilt for what he had done 
against the honour and life of Uriah. 

The holy man knew, that was it any one's 
case but David's own, no man would have 
been so quick-sighted in discerning the nature 
of the injury, — more ready to have redressed 
it, or who would have felt more compassion for 
the party who had suffered it, than he himself. 

Instead therefore of declaring the real inten- 
tion of his errand, by a direct accusation and 
reproof for the crimes he had committed ; he 
comes to him with a fictitious complaint of a 
cruel act of injustice done by another, and ac- 
cordingly he frames a case, not so parallel to 
David's as he supposed would awaken his sus- 
picion, and prevent a patient and candid hear- 

58 



SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

ing, and yet not so void of resemblance in the 
main circumstances, as to fail of striking him 
when shown in a proper light. 

And Nathan came and said unto him, 
"There were two men in one city, the one 
rich and the other poor — the rich man had 
exceeding many flocks and herds, but the 
poor man had nothing save one little ewe- 
kmb which he had brought and nourished up 
— and it grew up together with him and with 
his children — it did eat of his own meat, and 
drink of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, 
and was unto him as a daughter — and there 
came a traveller unto the rich man, and he 
spared to take of his own flock and of his 
own herd to dress for the wayfaring man, 
that was come unto him, but took the poor 
man's lamb and dressed it for the man that 
was come unto him.'' 

The case was drawn up with great judg- 
ment and beauty, — the several minute cir- 
cimistances which heightened the injury truly 
affecting, — and so strongly urged, that it 
would have been impossible for any man with 
a previous sense of guilt upon his mind, to 
have defended himself from some degree of re- 
morse, which it must naturally have excited. 

59 



SERMON IV 

The story, though it spoke only of the 
injustice and oppressive act of another man 

yet it pointed to what he had lately 

done hunself, with all the circumstances of its 
aggravation; — and withal, the whole was so 
tenderly addressed to the heart and passions, 
as to kindle at once the utmost horror and 
indignation. And so it did, — but not against 
the proper person. In his transport he forgot 

hunself; his anger greatly kindled at 

the man, — and he said unto Nathan, ^* As the 
Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing 
shall surely die, and he shall restore the lamb 
fourfold, because he did this thing, and be- 
cause he had no pity.'' 

It can scarce be doubted here, but that 
David's anger was recU, and that he was what 
he appeared to be, greatiy provoked and exas- 
perated against the offender : and, indeed, his 
sentence against him proves he was so above 
measure. For to punish the man with death, 
and oblige him to restore fourfold besides, was 
highly imequitable, and not only dispropor- 
tioned to the offence, but far above the ut- 
most rigour and severity of the law, which 
allowed a much softer atonement, requiring, in 
such a case, no more than an ample restitution 

60 



SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

and recompense in kind. The judgment, how- 
ever, seems to have been truly sincere and 
well-meant, and bespoke rather the honest 
rashness of an unsuspicious judge, than the 
cool determination of a conscious and guilty 
man, who knew he was going to pass sentence 
upon himself. 

I take notice of this particular, because it 
places this instance of self-deceit, which is the 
subject of the discourse, in the strongest light, 
and fiiUy demonstrates the truth of a fact in 
this great man. which happens every day 
among om-selves, namely, that a man may be 
guilty of very bad and dishonest actions, and 
yet reflect so little, or so partially, upon what 
he has done, as to keep his conscience free, not 
only from guilt, but even the remotest suspi- 
cions, that he is the man which in truth he is, 
and what the tenor and evidence of his life 
demonstrate. If we look into the world — 
DaWd's is no uncommon case ; — we see some 
one or other perpetually copying this bad 
original, sitting in judgment upon himself. — 
hearing his own cause, and not knowing what 
he is doing ; hasty in passing sentence, and 
even executing it too with wrath upon the 
person of another, when in the language of 



SERMON IV 

the prophet, one might say to him with justice, 
" Thou art the man." 

Of the many revengeful, covetous, false, and 
ill-natured persons which we complain of in 
the world, though we all join in the cry against 
them, what man amongst us singles out him- 
self as a criminal, or ever once takes it into 
his head that he adds to the number? — or 
where is there a man so bad, who would not 
think it the hardest and most unfair imputa- 
tion, to have any of those particular vices laid 
to his charge ? 

If he has the symptoms ever so strong upon 
him, which he would pronounce infallible in 
another, they are indications of no such malady 
in himself — He sees what no one else sees, 
some secret and flattering circumstances in his 
favour, which no doubt make a wide difference 
betwixt his case, and the party's which he 
condemns. 

What other man speaks so often and vehe- 
mently against the vice of pride, sets the weak- 
ness of it in a more odious light, or is more 
hurt with it in another, than the proud man 
himself? It is the same with the passionate, 
the designing, the ambitious, and some other 
common characters in life ; and being a conse- 

69 



SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

quence of the nature of such vices, and aknost 
inseparable fix)m them, the effects of it are 
generally so gross and absurd, that where pity 
does not forbid, it is pleasant to observe and 
trace the cheat through the several turnings 
and windings of the heart, and detect it through 
all the shapes and appearances which it puts on. 

Next to these instances of self-deceit, and 
utter ignorance of our true disposition and 
character, which appear in not seeing that in 
ourselves which shocks us in another man ; there 
is another species still more dangerous and 
delusive, and which the more guarded perpet- 
ually fall into from the judgments they make 
of different vices, according to their age and 
complexion, and the various ebbs and flows of 
their passions and desires. 

To conceive this, let any man look into his 
own heart, and observe in how different a de- 
gree of detestation, numbers of actions stand 
there, though equally bad and vicious in them- 
selves : he will soon find that such of them, as 
strong inclination or custom has prompted him 
to commit, are generally dressed out, and 
painted with all the false beauties which a 
soft and flattering hand can give them; and 
that the others, to which he feels no propen- 



SERMON IV 

sity, appear at once naked and deformed, sur- 
rounded with all the true circumstances of 
their folly and dishonour. 

When David surprised Saul sleeping in the 
cave, and cut off the skirt of his robe, we read, 
his heart smote him for what he had done ; — 
strange, it smote him not in this matter of 
Uriah, where it had so much stronger reason to 
take the alarm. — A whole year had almost 
passed fix)m the first commission of this injus- 
tice, to the time the prophet was sent to reprove 
him ; and we read not once of any remorse or 
compunction of heart for what he had done : 
and it is not to be doubted, had the same 
prophet met him when he was returning up 
out of the cave, — and told him, that, scrupu- 
lous and conscientious as he then seemed and 
thought himself to be, he was deceiving him- 
self, and was capable of committing the foulest 
and most dishonourable actions; — that he 
should one day murder a faithful and valiant 
servant, whom he ought in justice to have 
loved and honoured ; — that he should without 
pity first woimd him in the tenderest part, by 
taking away his dearest possession, — and then 
unmercifully and treacherously rob him of his 
life — Had Nathan in a prophetic spirit fore- 

64 



SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

told to David that he was capable of this, and 
that he should one day actually do it, and from 
no other motive but the momentary gratifica- 
tion of a base and unworthy passion, he would 
have received the prediction with horror, and 
said possibly with Hazael upon just such 
another occasion, and with the same ignorance 
of himself, — Wltat I is thy semant a dog that 
he should do this great thing ? And yet in all 
likelihood, at that very time there wanted 
nothing but the same degree of temptation, 
and the same opportunity to induce him to 
the sin, which afterwards overcame him. 

Thus the case stands with us still. When 
the passions are warmed, and the sin which 
presents itself exactly taUies to the desire, 
observe how impetuously a man will rush into 
it, and act against all principles of honour, 
justice, and mercy. Talk to him the mo- 
ment after upon the nature of another vice to 
which he is not addicted, and from wliich per- 
haps his age, his temper, or rank in life secure 
him ; take notice, how well he reasons, — with 
what equity he determines, — what an honest 
indignation and sharpness he expresses against 
it, and how insensibly his anger kindles against 
the man who hath done this thing. 



SERMON IV 

Thus we are nice in grains and scruples, 
but knaves in matters of a pound 



weight; every day straining at gnats, yet 
swallowing camels ; — miserably cheating our- 
selves, and torturing our reason to bring us in 
such a report of the sin as suits the present 
appetite and inclination. 

Most of us are aware of and pretend to 
detest the barefaced instances of that hjrpocrisy 
by which men deceive others, but few of us are 
upon our guard, or see that more fatal hypoc- 
risy by which we deceive and overreach our 
own hearts. It is a flattering and dangerous 
distemper, which has undone thousands ; — we 
bring the seeds of it along with us into the 
world, — they insensibly grow up with us from 

our childhood, they lie long concealed 

and undisturbed, and have generally got such 
deep root in our natures by the time we are 
come to years of understanding and reflection, 
that it requires all we have got to defend our- 
selves from their eflfects. 

To make the case still worse on our sides, 
'tis with this as with every grievous distemper 
of the body, — the remedies are dangerous and 
doubtful, in proportion to our mistakes and 
ignorance of the cause : for in the instances of 



SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

though the head is sick, and the 
whole heart faint, the patient seldom knows 
what he ails : of all the things we know and 
learn, this necessary knowledge comes to us 
the last 

Upon what principle it happens thus, I have 
endeavoured to lay open in the first part of this 
discourse ; which I conclude with a serious 
exhortation to struggle against them: which 
we can only hope to do, by conversing more 
and oftener with ourselves, than the business 
and diversions of the world generally give us 
leave. 

We have a chain of thoughts, desires, engage- 
ments, and idlenesses, which perpetually return 
upon us in their proper time and order — let us, 
I beseech you, assign and set apart some small 
portion of the day for this purpose, — of retir- 
ing into ourselves, and searching into the dark 
comers and recesses of the heart, and taking 
notice of what is passing there. If a man can 
bring himself to do this task with a curious and 
impartial eye, he will quickly find the fiiiits 
of it will more than recompense his time and 
labour. He will see several irregularities and 
unsuspected passions within him which he 
never was aware of: — he will discover in his 

67 



SERMON IV 

progress many secret turnings and windings in 
his heart to which he was a stranger, which 
now gradually open and disclose themselves to 
him upon a nearer view ; in these labyrinths he 
wiU traee out such hidden springs and motives 
for many of his most applauded actions, as will 
make him rather sorry and ashamed of himself, 
than proud* 

In a word, he will understand Ms errors^ and 
then see the necessity, with David, of implor- 
ing God to cleanse him from his secret faults, 
— and with some hope and confidence to say, 
with this great man after his conviction, — 
" Try me, O God, and seek the ground of my 
heart, — prove me, and examine my thoughts, 
look well if there be any way of wickedness in 
me, and lead me in the way everlasting.'' 

Now to God the Father, &c. &c. 



68 



SERMON V 

THE CASE OF ELUAH AND THE WIDOW OF 

ZAREPHATH CONSIDERED 

A CHARITT SERMON 

TO THS 

Vbbt RsmsND Richard OsBALDisTONy D.D., 

Dmm of York 

Sn, — I have taken the liberty to inscribe this Dis- 
coune to you, in testimony of the great respect which I 
owe to your character in general ; and from a sense of 
what is doe to it in particular from every member of the 
Ckmrth rf York. 

I wish I had as good a reason for doing that, which 
has given me the opportunity of making so public and 
just an adcnowledgment ; being afraid there can be 
little left to be said upon the subject of Charity ^ which 
has not been often thought, and much better expressed 
by many who have gone before : and, indeed, it seems 
so beaten and common a path, that it is not an easy 
matter for a new-comer to distinguish himself in it, by 
anything except the novelty of his Vehicle, 

I heg^ however, Sir, your kind acceptance of it, and 
of the motives which have induced me to address it to 
you; one of which I cannot conceal injustice to myself 

S9 



SERMON V 

because it has proceeded from the sense of many fiivours 
and civilities which I have received fkt)m you, — I am. 
Reverend Sir, your most obliged, and fiedthful humUe 

Servant, 

Laurence Stebne. 

And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cmse of oil 
fail, accoiding to the word of the Lord which he spake b^ the 
prophet Ei^ah. — 1 KiNQB xviL 16. 

THE words of the text are the record of a 
miracle wrought in behalf of the widow 
of Zarephath, who had charitably taken 
Elijah under her roof, and administered unto 
him in a time of great scarcity and distress. 
There is something very interesting and affec- 
tionate in the manner this story is related in 
Holy Writ : and, as it concludes with a second 
still more remarkable proof of God's favour to 
the same person, in the restoration of her dead 
son to life, one cannot but consider both mira- 
cles as rewards of that act of piety, wrought by 
Infinite Power, and left upon record in Scrip- 
ture, not merely as testimonies of the Prophet's 
Divine Mission, but likewise as two encourag- 
ing instances of God Almighty's blessing upon 
works of charity and benevolence. 

In this view I have made choice of this 
piece of sacred history, which I shall beg leave 

70 



ELIJAH AND THE WIDOW 

to make use of as the ground-work for an exhor- 
tation to charity in general : and that it may 
better answer the particular purpose of this 
solenmity, I will endeavour to enlarge upon 
it with such reflections, as, I trust in Gk)D, will 
excite some sentiments of compassion which 
may be profitable to so pious a design. 

Elijah had fled fi*om two dreadful evils, the 
i^proach of a famine, and the persecution of 
Ahab, an enraged enemy : and, in obedience to 
the command of God had hid himself in the 
brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. In this 
safe and peaceful solitude, blessed with daily 
marks of Gk)D's providence, the holy man dwelt 
free both from the cares and glories of the world : 
by miraculous impulse the ravens hrou^ him 
bread and flesh in the mornings and bread and 
flesh in the evening and he drank of the brook ; 
till by continuance of drought (the windows of 
heaven being shut up in those days for three 
years and six months, which was the natural 
cause likewise of the famine) it came to pass after 
a while that the brook, the great fountain of his 
support, dried up ; and he is again directed 
by the word of the Lord where to betake him- 
self for shelter. He is commanded to arise 
and go to Zarephath, which belongeth to 

71 



SERMON V 

Zidon, with an assurance that he had disposed 
the heart of a widow woman there to sustain 
him. 

The prophet follows the call of his God : the 
same hand which brought him to the gate of 
the city, had led also the poor widow out of 
her doors, oppressed with sorrow. She had 
come forth upon a melancholy errand, to make 
preparation to eat her last meal, and share it 
with her child. 

No doubt, she had long fenced against this 
tragical event with all the thrifty manage- 
ment which self-preservation and parental love 
could inspire ; full no doubt of cares and many 
tender apprehensions lest the slender stock 
should &il them before the return of plenty. 

But as she was a widow, having lost the only 
faithful friend who would best have assisted her 
in this virtuous struggle, the present necessity 
of the times at length overcame her ; and she 
was just falling down an easy prey to it, when 
Elijah came to the place where she was. And 
he called unto her, and said^ Fetch me, I pray 
theCy a little water in a vesseU that I may drink. 
And a^ she was going to fetch it, he called unto 
her, and said. Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel 
oj bread in thine hand. And she said. As the 

79 



ELIJAH AND THE WIDOW 

Lord thy God Hveth, I have not a cake, but a 
handful ofvieal in a barrel, aTid a little oil in a 
cruse : and behold, I am gathering two sticks, 
that I may go in and dress it for me and my 
son, tfiat we may eat it and die. And Elijah 
said UTito her. Fear not, but go, and do as thou 
hast said ; but maJce me thereof a Utile cake first, 
and bring it unto me, and after make for thee 
and for thy son. For thus saith the Lord God 
of Israel, The barrel of m£al shall not waste, 
neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day 
that the Lord sendeth rain upon tJie earth. 

True charity is always unwilling to find ex- 
cuses — else here was a fair opportunity of 
pleading inany : she might have insisted over 
again upon her situation, which necessarily tied 
up her hands — she might have urged the un- 
reasonableness of the request ; — that she was 

reduced to the lowest extremity already 

and that it was contrary to justice and the first 
law of nature, to rob herself and child of their 
last morsel, and give it to a stranger. 

But. in general spirits, compassion is some- 
times more than a balance for self-preservation. 
For, as God certainly interwove that fiiendly 
softness in our nature to be a check upon too 
great a propensity towards self-love — so it 



SERMON V 

seemed to operate here. — For it is observable, 1 
tliat though the prophet backed his request 
with the promise of an immediate recompense I 
in multiplying her stock ; — yet it is not evi- 
dent, she was influenced at all by that tempta- I 
tion. For if she had, doubtless it must have 
wrought such a mixture of self-interest into > 
the motive of her eomphance, as must greatly 
have allayed the merit of the action. But this, 
I say, does not appear, but rather the contrary, 
from the reflection she makes upon the whole in 
the last verse of the chapter. Now by this I 
kriow that thou art a man of God, and thai • 
the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth. \ 

Besides, as she was an inhabitant of Zare- 
phath (or, as it is called by St. Luke, Sarepta, 
subject to Zidon, the metropolis of Plioenicia, 
without the bounds of God's people), she had 
been brought up in gross darkness and idolatry, 
in utter ignorance of the Lord God of Israel ; 
or, if she had heard of his name, which is all 
that seems probable, she had been taught to 
disbelieve the mighty wonders of his hand, and 
was still less likely to believe his prophet 

Moreover, she might argue. If this man by 
some secret mystery of his own, or through 
the power of his God, is able to procure so 




ELIJAH AND THE WIDOW 

preternatural a supply for me, whence comes 
it to pass, that he now stands in want himself, 
oppressed both with hunger and thirst ? 

It appears, therefore, that she must have 
been wrought upon by an unmixed principle 
of humanity. — She looked upon him as a 
feUow-partner almost in the same affliction 

with herself She considered he had 

come a weary pilgrimage, in a sultry clunate, 
through an exhausted country ; where neither 
bread nor water were to be had, but by acts 
of liberality. — That he had come an unknown 
traveller, and as a hard heart never wants a 
pretence, that this circumstance, which should 
rather have befriended, might have helped to 
oppress him. — She considered, for charity is 
ever fruitful in kind reasons, that he was now far 
from his own country, and had strayed out of 
the reach of the tender offices of some one 
who affectionately mourned his absence — her 
heart was touched with pity. — She turned in 
silence, and went and did according as he had 
said. And behold^ both she, and he, and her 
house did eat many days ; or as in the margin, 
one whole year. A nd the barrel of meal waited 
not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, until the 
day thai God sent rain upon the earth, 

75 



SERMON V 

Though it may not seem necessary to raise 
conjectures here upon this event, yet it is 
natural to suppose, the danger of the famine 
being thus unexpectedly got over, that the 
mother began to look hopefully forwards upon 
the rest of her dajrs. There were many widows 
in Israel at that time, when the heavens were 
shut up for three years and six months, yet, as 
St. Luke observes, to none of them was the 
prophet sent^ save to the widow of Sarepta : in 
all likelihood, she would not be the last in mak- 
ing the same observation, and drawing from it 
some flattering conclusion in favour of her son. 
— Many a parent would build high upon a 
worse foundation. — " Since the God of Israel 
has thus sent his own messenger to us in our 
distress, to pass by so many houses of his own 
people, and to stop at mine, to save it in so 
miraculous a manner from destruction ; doubt- 
less, this is but an earnest of his friture kind 
intentions to us: at least his goodness has 
decreed to comfort my old age by the long 
life and health of my son : — but perhaps, he 
has something greater still in store for him, 
and I shall live to see the same hand hereafter 
crown his head with glory and honour." We 
may naturally suppose her innocently carried 

76 



ELIJAH AND THE WIDOW 

away with such thoughts, when she is called 
back by an unexpected distemper which sur- 
prises her son, and in one moment brings down 
all her hopes — for his sickriess was so sore 

that there was no breath left in him. 

The expostulations of immoderate grief are 

seldom just For, though Elijah had 

already preserved her son, as well as herself, 
from immediate death, and was the last cause 
to be suspected of so sad an accident ; yet the 
passionate mother in the first transport chal- 
lenges hira as the author of her misfortune ; — 
as if he had brought down sorrow upon a house 
which had so hospitably sheltered him. The 
prophet was too full of compassion, to make 
reply to so unkind an accusation. He takes 
the dead child mtt of his mothers bosom, and 
laid him upon his own bed; and he cried unto 
the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou 
brought evil vpon the xcidow with whom I 
$ojourn, by s/aying her son ? — " Is this the 
reward of alt her charity and goodness ? Thou 
hast before this robbed her of the dear partner 
of all her joys and all her cares ; and now she 
is a widow, and has most reason to expect thy 
protection ; behold thou hast withdrawn her 
last prop : thou hast taken away her child, the 



SERMON V 

only stay she had to rest on." — And Elyah 
cried unto Grod^ and said, O Lord my God^ I 
pray thee Jet this childs soul come into him 
again. 

The prayer was urgent, and bespoke the dis- 
tress of a humane mind deeply suffering in the 
misfortunes of another ; — moreover his heart 
was rent with other passions. — He was zeal- 
ous for the name and honour of his God, and 
thought not only his omnipotence, but his glori- 
ous attribute of mercy, concerned in the event : 
for, oh 1 with what triumph would the prophets 
of Baal retort his own bitter taunt, and say, 
his God was either talking^ or he was pursu- 
ingf or was in a Journey ; or peradventure he 
slept and should have been awaked! — He was 
moreover involved in the success of his prayer 
himself ; — honest minds are most hurt by 

scandal And he was afraid, lest so foul 

a one, so unworthy of his character, might arise 
among the heathen, who would report with 
pleasiu-e, " Lo I the widow of Zarephath took 
the messenger of the God of Israel under her 
roof, and kindly entertained him, and see how 
she is rewarded ; surely the prophet was un- 
grateful, he wanted power, or, what is worse, 
he wanted pity." 



78 



trui 



ELIJAH AND THE WIDOW 

Besides all this, he pleaded not only the cause 
of the widow ; it was the cause of charity itself, 
which had received a deep wound already, and 
would suffer still more should God deny it this 
testimony of his favour. So the Lord heark- 
ened unto the voice of El^alt, and the soul of 
the child coTne into him again, and he revived. 
A nd Elijah took the child, arid brought him down 
out of the chamber into the house, and delivered 
Mm unto his mother ; aTid Elijah said. See, thy 
Uveth. 

It would be a pleasure to a good mind to 
stop here a moment, and figiu-e to itself the 
picture of so joyful an event, — To behold on 
one hand the raptures of the parent, overcome 
with surprise and gratitude, and imagine how a 
sudden stroke of such impetuous joy mus-t oper- 
ate on a despairing countenance, long accus- 
tomed to sadness. — To conceive on the otlier 
side of the piece, the holy man approaching 

witli the child in his arms full of honest 

triumph in his looks, but sweetened with all the 
kind sympathy which a gentle nature could 
overflow with upon so happy an event It is a 
subject one might recommend to the pencil of 
a great genius, and would even afford matter 
for description here ; but that it would lead us 



SERMON V 

too far from the particular purpose, for which 
I have enlarged upon thus much of the stoiy 
already ; the chief design of which is, to illus- 
trate by a fact, what is evident both in reason 
and scripture, that a charitable and good action 
is seldom cast away, but that even in this life 
it is more than probable, that what is so scat- 
tered shall be gathered again with increase. 
Cast thy bread upon the waters^ and thou shaU 
find it after many days. Be as a father unto 
the fatherless^ and instead of an husband unto 
their mother ; so shalt thou be as a son of the 
Most Highy and he will lave thee more than thy 
mx)ther doth. Be mindful of good turns, for 
thou knowest not what evil shall come upon the 
earth ; and when thou f attest thou shalt find a 
stay. It shall preserve thee from all affikHon, 
and fight for thee against thy enemies better 
than a mighty shield and a strong spear. 

The great instability of temporal affairs, and 
constant fluctuation of everything in this world, 
afford perpetual occasions of taking refiige in 
such a security. 

What by successive misfortunes ; by failings 
and cross accidents in trade ; by miscarriage of 
projects : — what by unsuitable expenses of par- 
ents, extravagances of children, and the many 

80 



ELIJAH AND THE WIDOW 

other secret ways ivherefay riches make them- 
selves wings and fly away ; so many surprising 
revolutions do every day happen in families, 
that it may not seem strange to say, that the 
posterity of some of the most Uberal contribu- 
tors here, in the changes which one century 
may produce, may possibly find shelter under 
this very plant which now they so kindly water. 
Nay, so quickly sometimes has the wheel turned 
round, that many a man may live to enjoy the 
benefit of that charity which his own piety 
projected. 

But besides this, and exclusive of the right 
which God's promise gives to protection here- 
after ; charity and benevolence, in the ordinary 
chain of effects, have a natural and more unme- 
diate tendency in themselves to rescue a man 
from the accidents of the world, by softening 
the hearts, and winning every man's wishes to 
its interest. When a compassionate man falls, 
who would not pity him ? who, that had power 
to do it, would not befriend and raise him up ? 
or could the most barbarous temper offer an in- 
sult to his distress without pain and reluctance ? 
so that it is almost a wonder that covetousness, 
even in spite of itself, does not sometimes 
ugue a man into charity, by its own principle 



SERMON V 

of looking forwards, and the firm expectation 
it would delight in of receiving its own again 
with usury. — So evident is it in the course of 
God's providence and the natural stream of 
things, that a good office, one time or other, 

generally meets with a reward Generally, 

did I say? — how can it ever fail? — when 
besides all this, so large a share of the recom- 
pense is so inseparable even from the action 
itself. Ask the man who has a tear of tender- 
ness always ready to shed over the unfortunate ; 
who, withal, is ready to distribute and wiUing 
to communicate : ask him if the best things, 
which wits have said of pleasure, have expressed 
what he has felt, when, by a seasonable kind- 
ness, he has made the heart of the widow sing 
for joy. Mark then the expressions of unut- 
terable pleasure and harmony in his looks ; and 
say, whether Solomon has not fixed the point 
of true enjoyment in the right place, when he 
declares, " that he knew no good there was in 
any of the riches or honours of this world, hut 
for a vian to do good with them in his life^^ 
Nor was it without reason he had made this 

judgment. Doubtless he had found and 

seen the insufficiency of all sensual pleasures ; 
how unable to furnish either a rational or a 



ELUAH AND THE WIDOW 

lasting scheme of happiness ; how soon the best 
of them vanished ; the less exceptionable in 
vanity, but the guilty both in vanity and vexa- 
tion of spirit But that this was of so pure 
and refined a nature, it burned without con- 
suming : it was figuratively the widow's barrel 
of meal which xvasted not, and cruse of oil which 
never failed. 

It is not an easy matter to add weight to the 
testimony of the wisest man, upon the pleasure 
of doing good ; or else the evidence of the 
philosopher Epicurus is very remarkable, 
whose word in this matter is the more to be 
trusted, because a professed sensualist ; who, 
amidst all the delicacies and improvements of 
pleasure which a luxuriant fancy might strike 
out, still maintained, that the best way of 
enlaiging human happiness was, by a com- 
munication of it to others. 

And if it was necessary here, or there was 
time to refine upon this doctrine, one might 
further maintain, exclusive of the happiness 
which the mind itself feels, in the exercise of 
this virtue, that the very body of man is never 
in a better state than when he is most inclined 
to do good offices : — that as nothing more 
contributes to health than a benevolence of 

83 



SERMON V 

temper, so nothing generaUy is a stronger in- 
dication of it. 

And what seems to confirm this opinion, is 
an observation, the truth of which must be 
submitted to every one's reflection — namely 

that a disinclination and backwardness to 

do good, is often attended, if not produced, by 
an indisposition of the animal as well as ra- 
tional part of us : So naturally do the 

soul and body, as in other cases so in this, 
mutually befriend, or prey upon each other. 
And indeed, setting aside all abstruser reason- 
ing upon the point, I cannot conceive but that 
the very mechanical motions which maintain 
life, must be performed with more equal vigour 
and freedom in that man whom a great and 
good soul perpetually inclines to show mercy 
to the miserable, than they can be m a poor, 
sordid, selfish wretch, whose little contracted 
heart melts to no man's affliction ; but sits brood- 
ing so intently over its own plots and concerns, 
as to see and feel nothing ; and in truth, enjoy 
nothing beyond himself: and of whom one 
may say what that great master of nature has, 
speaking of a natural sense of harmony, which 
I think with more justice may be said of Com- 
passion, that the man who had it not, — 

- 84 



ELIJAH AND THE WIDOW 

— Was fit for treasons^ stratagems and spoils : 
The MOTIONS of his spirits dull as night ; 
And his affections dark as Erebus : 
Let no such man be trusted. 

What divines say of the mind, naturalists 
have observed of the body; that there is no 
passion so natural to it as love, which is the 
principle of doing good — and though instances, 
like this just mentioned, seem far fix)m being 
proo& of it, yet it is not to be doubted, but 
that every hard-hearted man has felt much in- 
ward opposition before he could prevail upon 
himfiplf to do aught to fix and deserve the 
character : and that what we say of long habits 
of vice, that they are hard to be subdued, may 
with equal truth be said concerning the natural 
impressions of benevolence, that a man must 
do much violence to himself, and suffer many 
a painful struggle, before he can tear away so 
great and noble a part of his nature. — Of this, 
antiquity has preserved a beauti^ instance in 
an anecdote of Alexander, the tyrant of Pheres, 
who, though he had so industriously hardened 
his heart as to seem to take delight in cruelty, 
insomuch as to murder many of his subjects 
every day, without cause and without pity; 
yet, at tiie bare representation of n tragedy 

86 



SERMON V 

which related the misfortunes of Hecuba and 
Andromache, he was so touched with the ficti- 
tious distress which the poet had wrought up 
in it, that he burst out into a flood of tears. 
The explication of which inconsistency is easy, 
and casts as great a lustre upon human nature, 
as the man himself was a disgrace to it. The 
case seems to have been this : In real life he 
had been blinded with passions, and thou^t- 
lessly hurried on by interest or resentment : — 
but here, there was no room for motives of 
that kind ; so that his attention being first 
caught hold of, and all his vices laid asleep ; — 
then Nature awoke in triumph, and showed 
how deeply she had sown the seeds of compas- 
sion in every man's breast ; when tyrants, with 
vices the most at enmity with it, were not able 
entirely to root it out. 

But this is painting an amiable virtue, and 
setting her off with shades that wickedness 
lends us, when one might safely trust to the 
force of her own natural charms, and ask. 
Whether anything under Heaven, in its own 
nature, is more lovely and engaging? — To 
illustrate this the more, let us turn our thoughts 
within ourselves, and for a moment let any 
number of us here imagine ourselves at this 

86 



ELIJAH AND THE WIDOW 

instant engaged in drawing the most perfect 
and amiable character, such as, according to 
our conceptions of the Deity, we should think 
most acceptable to him, and most likely to be 
universally admired by all mankind. — I appeal 
to your own thoughts, whether the first idea 
which offered itself to most of our imaginations 
would not be that of a compassionate bene- 
fiictor, stretching forth his hands to raise up 
the helpless orphan ? Whatever other virtues 
we should give our hero, we should all agree 
in making him a generous friend, who thought 
the opportunities of doing good to be the only 
charm of his prosperity : we should paint him 
like the psalmist's river of God overflowing 
the thirsty parts of the earth, that he might 
enrich them, carrying plenty and gladness 
along with him. If this was not sufficient, 
and we were still desirous of adding a further 
d^ree of perfection to so great a character ; 
we should endeavour to think of some one, if 
human nature could furnish such a pattern, 
who, if occasion required, was willing to un- 
dergo all kinds of affliction, to sacrifice himself, 
to forget his dearest interests, and even lay 

down his life for the good of mankind. 

And here, — O merciful Saviour I how would 

87 



SERMON V 

the bright original of thy unbounded good- 
ness break in upon our hearts I Thou who 
becamest poor, that we might be rich — though 
Lord of all this world, yet hadst not where 
to lay thy head — and though equal in power 
and glory to the great God of Nature, yet 
viadest thyself of no reputation^ tookest upon 

thee the form of a servant, submittiiig 

thyself, without opening thy mouth, to all the 
indignities which a thankless and undisceming 
people could offer; and at length, to accom- 
plish our salvation, becamest obedient unto 
death, suffering thyself, as on this day,* to he 
led like a lamb to the slaughter. 

The consideration of this stupendous ia- 
stance of compassion, in the Son of God, is the 
most unanswerable appeal that can be made to 
the heart of man, for the reasonableness of it 

in himself. It is the great argument which 

the Apostles use in almost all their exhor- 
tations to good works. — Beloved, if Christ 
so loved us — the inference is unavoidable; 
and gives strength and beauty to everything 
else which can be urged upon the subject 
And therefore I have reserved it for my last 
and warmest appeal, with which I would 

• Preached on Good Friday. 



■ELIJAH AND THE WIDOW 

gladly finish this discourse, that at least for 
their sakes for whom it is preached, we might 
be left to the full impression of so exalted and 
so seasonable a motive. —• That by reflecting 
upon the infinite labour of this day's love, in 
the instance of Christ's death, we may con- 
sider what an immense debt we owe to each 
other ; and by calling to mind the amiable 
pattern of his life, in doing good, we might 
learn in what manner we may best discharge it 

And, indeed, of all the methods in which a 
good mind would be willing to do it, I beUeve 
there can be none more beneficial, or compre- 
hensi%'e in its effects, than that for which we 
are met here together — The proper education 
of poor children being the ground-work of 
almost every kind of charity, as that which 
makes every other subsequent act of it answer 
the pious expectation of the gi\'er. 

Without this foundation first laid, how much 
kindness in the progress of a benevolent man's 
life is unavoidably cast away ! and sometimes 
where it is as senseless as the exposing a ten- 
der plant to all the inclemencies of a cruel sea- 
son, and then going with sorrow to take it in, 
when the root is already dead. I said, there- 
fore, this was the foundation of almost every 



SERMON V 

kind of charity, — and might one not have 
added, of all policy too ? since the many iD 
consequences which attended the want oi it, 
though grievously felt by the parties them- 
selves, are no less so by the community of 
which they are members ; and moreover, of aU 
mischiefs seem the hardest to be redressed — 
Insomuch, that when one considers the disloyal 
seductions of Popery on one hand, and on the 
other, that no bad man, whatever he professes, 
can be a good subject, one may venture to say, 
it had been cheaper and better for the nation 
to have borne the expense of instilling sound 
principles and good morals into the n^lected 
children of the lower sort, especially in some 
parts of Great Britain, than to be obliged, so 
often as we have been within this last century, 
to rise up and arm ourselves against the rebel- 
lious effects which the want of them has 
brought down even to our doors. And, in 
fact, if we are to trust to antiquity, the truth 
of which in this case we have no reason to 
dispute, this matter has been looked upon of 
such vast importance to the civil happiness 
and peace of a people, that some common- 
wealths, the most eminent for political wis- 
dom, have chose to make a public concern of 

90 



ELUAH AND THE WIDOW 

it ; thinking it much safer to be entrusted to 
the prudence of the magistrate, than to the 
mistaken tenderness, or natural partiality, of 
the parent. 

It was consistent with this, and bespoke a 
very refined sense of policy in the Lacedemo- 
nians (though by the way, I believe, different 
from what more modem politics would have 
directed in like circumstances), when Antipa- 
ter demanded of them fifty children, as host- 
ages for the security of a distant engagement, 
they made this brave and wise answer, '' they 
would not, — they could not consent : — they 
would rather give him double the number of 
their best grown-up men.'' — Intimating, that, 
however they were distressed, they would 
choose any inconvenience rather than sufier 
the loss of their country's education ; and the 
<qyp(xrtunity (which if once lost can never be 
r^[ained) of giving their youth an early tinc- 
ture of religion, and bringing them up to 
a love of industry, and a love of the laws 

and constitution of their country. If this 

shows the great importance of a proper edu- 
cation to children of all ranks and conditions, 
what shall we say then of those whom the 
providence of God has placed in the very low- 

91 



SERMON V 

est lot of life, utterly cast out of the way 
of knowledge, without a parent, — sometimes 
may be without a friend to guide and instruct 
them, but what common pity and the neces- 
sity of their sad situation engage ; where 

the dangers which surround them on evay 
side are so great and many, that for one fortu- 
nate passenger in life, who makes his way well 
in the world with such early disadvantages, 
and so dismal a setting out, we may reckon 
thousands, who every day suflfer shipwreck, 
and are lost forever. 

If there is a case under heaven which calls 
out aloud for the more immediate exercise of 
compassion, and which may be looked up(m 
as the compendium of all charity, surely it is 
this: and I am persuaded there would want 
nothing more to convince the greatest enemy 
to these kinds of charities that it is so, but a 
bare opportunity of taking a nearer view of 
some of the more distressful objects of it. 

Let him go into the dwellings of the un- 
fortunate, into some mournful cottage, where 
poverty and affliction reign together. There 
let him behold the disconsolate widow — sit- 
ting — steeped in tears ; — thus sorrowing over 
the infant she knows not how to succour. — 



ELIJAH AND THE WIDOW 

''O my child, thou art now left exposed to 
a wide and vicious world, too fiiU of snares 
and temptations for thy tender and unprac- 
tised age/' Perhaps a parent's love may mag- 
nify those dangers — "But when I consider 
thou art driven out naked into the midst of 
them without friends, without fortune, with- 
out instruction, my heart bleeds beforehand 
for the evils which may come upon thee. 
God, in whom we trusted, is witness, so low 
had his providence placed us, that we never 
indulged one wish to have made thee rich, — 

virtuous we would have made thee ; for 

thy father, my husband, was a good man, and 

feared the Lord, and though all the 

fruits of his care and industry were Uttie 
enough for our support, yet he honestly had 
determined to have spared some portion of 
it, scanty as it was, to have placed thee safely 
in the w.y of knowledge L insta^ction- 
But alas I he is gone from us, never to return 
more, and with him are fled the means of 

doing it: For, Behold the creditor is 

come upon us, to take all that we have." 

Grief is eloquent, and will not easily be im- 
itated. But let the man, who is the least 

friend to distresses of this nature, conceive 

93 



SERMON V 

some disconsolate widow uttering her com- 
plaint even in this manner, and then let him 
consider, if there is any sorrow like this sor- 
roWf wherewith the Lord has cifflicted her ? or 
whether there can be any charity like that, 
of taking the child out of the mother's bosom^ 
and rescuing her from these apprehensions? 
Should a heathen, a stranger to our holy re- 
ligion and the love it teaches, should he, o^ 
he journeyed^ come to tlie place where she 
lay, when he saw^ would he not have compas- 
sion on her ? God forbid a christian should 
this day want itl or at any time look upon 
such a distress, and pass by on the other side. 

Rather, let him do, as his Saviour taught 
him, bind up the wounds^ and pour comfort 
into the heart of one, whom the hand of Gk)D 
has so bruised. Let him practise what it is, 
with Elijah's transport, to say to the afflicted 
widow, — See^ thy son tiveth! — Uveth by my 
charity, and the bounty of this hour, to all 
the purposes which make life desirable, — to 
be made a good man, and a profitable subject : 
on one hand, to be trained up to such a sense 
of his duty, as may secure him an interest in 
the world to come; and with regard to this 
world, to be so brought up in it to a love 



ELIJAH AND THE WIDOW 

of h<mest labour and industry, as all his life 
IcHig to earn and eat his bread with joy and 
thankfiilness, 

** Much peace and happiness rest upon the 
head and heart of every one who thus brings 
children to Christ 1 — May the blessing of him 
that was ready to perish come seasonably upon 
him I — The Liord comfort him, when he most 
wants it, when he Ues sick upon his bed make 
thou, O God I all his bed in his sickness ; and 
for what he now scatters, give him, then, that 
peace of thine which passeth all understanding, 
and which nothing in this world can either 
give or take away." Amen.* 

* In republishing this Sermon in 1760, Sterne prefixed 
the following Advertisement. 

ADVERTISEMENT. 

THIS Sermon, with the 
IbUowing Dedication to 
the Lord Bishop of CotUmU^ 
then Dean of York^ was prin- 
ted some Years ago, but was 
read by very few ; it is there- 
fore reprinted in this collec- 
tioo. 



95 



SERMON VI 

PHARISEE AND PUBLICAN IN THE TEMPLE 

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified ntther 
than the other. — Lukk xviii. 14, Fint Part. 

THESE words are the judgment which our 
Saviour has left upon the behaviour 
and different degrees of merit in the 
two men, the Pharisee and the Publican, whom 
he represents, m the foregoing parable, as going 
up into the temple to pray ; in what manner 
they discharged this great and solenm duty, it 
will best be seen from a consideration of the 
prayer, which each is said to have addressed 
to God on the occasion. 

The pharisee, instead of an act of humili- 
ation in that awfiil presence before which he 
stood, — with an air of triumph and self- 
sufficiency, thanks God that he had not made 
him like others — extortioners, adulterers, un- 
just, or even as this publican. — The publican 
is represented as standing afar off, and with a 
heart touched with humility from a just sense 

9T 



SERMON VI 

of his own unworthiness, is said only to have 

smote upon his breast, saying, God be 

merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, adds our 
Saviour, this man went down to his house 
justified rather than the other. 

Though the justice of this determination 
strikes every one at first sight, it may not be 
amiss to enter into a more particular examina- 
tion of the evidence and reasons upon which it 
might be founded, not only because it may 
place the equity of this decision in favour of 
the publican in a stronger light, but that the 
subject seems likely to lead me to a train of 
reflections not unsuitable to the solemnity of 
the season.* 

The pharisee was one of that sect, who, in 
our Saviour's time, what by the austerity 
of their lives — their public alms-deeds, and 
greater pretences to piety than other men, had 
gradually wrought themselves into much credit 
and reputation with the people : and indeed, as 
the bulk of these are easily caught with appear- 
ances, their character seems to have been 
admirably well suited to such a purpose. — If 
you looked no farther than the outward part 
of it, you would think it made up of all good- 

* Preached in Lent. 
98 



PHARISEE AND PUBLICAN 

ness and perfection ; an uncommon sanctity of 
life, guarded by great decorum and severity of 
manners, — profuse and frequent charities to 

the poor many acts of religion, much 

observance of the law much abstinence 

much prayer. 

It is painful to suspect the appearance of so 

much good and would have been so here, 

had not our blessed Saviour left us their 
real character upon record, and drawn up by 
himself m one word — That the sect were like 
whitened sepulchres, all fair and beautiful with- 
out, and enriched there with whatever could 
attract the eye of the beholder ; but, when 
searched withmside, were fuU of corruption 
and of whatever could shock and disgust the 
searcher. So that with all their affectation and 
piety, and more extraordinary strictness and 
r^^ularity in their outward deportment, all was 
irr^ular and uncultivated within — and all 
these fair pretences, how promising soever, 
blasted by the indulgence of the worst of 
human passions, — pride — spiritual pride, 
the worst of all pride — hypocrisy, self-love, 
covetousness, extortion, cruelty and revenge. 
What pity it is that the sacred name of Re- 
ligion should ever have been borrowed, and 

99 



SERMON VI 

employed in so bad a work, as in covering over 

such a black catalogue of vices or that 

the fair form of Virtue should have been thus 
disgraced and for ever drawn into suspicion, 
from the unworthy uses of this kind to which 
the artful and abandoned have often put her I 
The pharisee seems to have had not many 
scruples of this kind, and the prayer he makes 
use of in the temple is a true picture of the 
man's heart, and shows with what a disposition 
and frame of mind he came to worship. 

God ! I thank thee that thou hast formed 
me of different materials from the rest of my 
species, whom thou hast created fr^ and vain 
by nature, but by choice and disposition utterly 
corrupt and wicked. 

Me, thou hast fashioned in a different mould, 
and hast infused so large a portion of thy spirit 
into me, lo ! I am raised above the temptations 
and desires to which flesh and blood are subject 

— I thank thee that thou hast made me thus 

— not a frail vessel of clay, like that of other 
men — or even this publican, but that I stand 
here a chosen and sanctified vessel unto thee. 

After this obvious paraphrase upon the 
words, which speaks no more than the true spirit 
of the Pharisee's prayer, — you would naturaUy 

100 



PHARISEE AND PUBLICAN 

• 

ask. What reason was there for all this triumph 

— or what foundation could he have to insult 
in this manner over the infirmities of mankind 

— or even those of the humble publican who 

stood before him ? Why, says he, I fast 

twice in the week, I give tithes of all that 
I possess. -Truly, a very indifferent account 

of himself and if that was all he had to 

offer in his own behalf, God knows, it was but 
a weak foundation to support so much arro- 
gance and self-conceit ; because the observance 
of both the one and the other of these ordinances 
might be supposed well enough to be consistent 
with the most profligate of life and manners. 

The conduct and behaviour of the publican 

appear very different and indeed as 

much the reverse to this, as you could con- 
ceive. But before we enter upon that, as I 
have spoken largely to the character of the 
pharisee, 'twill be but justice to say a word or 
two in general to his. — The publican was one 
of that order of men employed by the Roman 
emperors in levying the taxes and contribu- 
tions which were from time to time extracted 
from Judea as a conquered nation. Whether 
from the particular fate of that employment, 
owing to the fixed aversion which men have 

101 



SERMON VI 

to part with what is their own, or from what- 
ever other causes it happened — so it was, that 
the whole set of men were odious, insomuch 
that the name of a publican was a term of re- 
proach and infamy amongst the Jews. 

Perhaps the many instances of rigour to 
which their office may direct them — height- 
ened sometimes by a mixture of cruelty and 
insolence of their own — and possibly always 
made to appear worse than they were by the 
loud clamours and misrepresentations of others 
— all might have contributed to form and fix 
this odium. But it was here, no doubt, as in 
all other classes of men whose professions ex- 
pose them to more temptations than that of 
others — that there are numbers who still be- 
have well, and who amidst all the snares and 

opportunities which lie in their way, 

passed through them, not only with an un- 
blemished character, but with the inward tes- 
timony of a good conscience. 

The publican, in all likelihood was one of 

these and the sentiments of candour 

and humility which the view of his condition 
inspired, are such as could come only from a 
heart and character thus described. 

He goes up into the temple to pay his 

109 



PHARISEE AND PUBLICAN 

sacrifice of prayer — in the discharge of which, 
he pleads no merit of his own, — enters into 
no comparison with others, — or justification 
of himself with God, but in reverence to that 
holier part of the temple where his presence 
was supposed more immediately to be displayed 

— he keeps afar off is afiraid to lift up his 

eyes towards Heaven but smites upon 

his breast, and in a short but fervent ejacula- 
tion — submissively begs CJod to have mercy 
upon his sins. O God! how precious, how 
amiable is true humility I what a difference in 
thy sight does it make to consist betwixt man 
and man I Pride was not made for a creature 
with such manifold imperfections — religious 
pride is a dress which still worse becomes him 

because, of all others, 'tis that to which 

he has the least pretence — the best of us fall 
seven times a day, and thereby add some de- 
gree of unprofitableness to the character of 
those who do all that is commanded them — 
Was I perfect therefore, says Job, I would 
not know my soul, I would be silent, I would 
be ignorant of my own righteousness, for 
should I say I was perfect, it would prove me 
to be perverse. From this introduction I will 
take occasion to reconunend this virtue of re- 

103 



SERMON VI 

ligious humility, which so naturally falls from 
the subject, and which cannot more effectually 
be enforced, than by an inquiry into the chief 
causes which produce the opposite vice to it 

that of spiritual pride — for in this 

malady of the mind of man — the case is paral- 
lel with most others of his body, the dangers 
of which can never rightly be apprehended; 
nor can remedies be applied either with judg- 
ment or success, till they are traced back to 
their first principles, and the seeds of the dis- 
order are laid open and considered. 

And first, I believe one of the most general 
causes of spiritual pride, is that which seems to 
have misled the pharisee — a mistaken notion 
of the true principles of his religion. He 
thought, no doubt, that the whole of it was 
comprehended in the two articles of paying 
tithes and frequent fasting, and that when he 
had discharged his conscience of them — he 
had done all that was required at his hands, 
and might with reason go, and thank God 
that he had not made him like others. — It is 
not to be questioned, but through force of this 
error, the pharisee might think himself to be, 
what he pretended, a religious and upright 
man, — for however he might be brought to 

104 



PHARISEE AND PUBLICAN 

act a double and insincere part in the eyes of 
men upon worldly views — it is not to be sup- 
posed — that when he stood by himself, apart 
in the temple, and no witnesses of what passed 

between him and his God that he 

should knowingly and wilfidly have dared to 
act so open and barefiiced a scene of mockery 
in the face of Heaven. This is scarce probable 
— and therefore must have been owing to some 
delusion in his education, which had early im- 
phmted m his mind false and wretched notions 
of the essentials of religion — which as he grew 
up had proved the seeds of infinite error both 
in practice and speculation. 

With the rest of this sect, he had been so 
principled and instructed as to observe a scru- 
pulous nicety and most religious exactness in 
the lesser matters of religion — its frequent 
washings — its fastings and other external rites, 
of no merit in themselves — but to stand ex- 
empted, fit)m the more troublesome exactness 
in the weightier matters of the law, which were 
of eternal and unchangeable obligation. So 
that, they were in truth blind guides — who thus 
will strain at a gnat and yet swallow a camel ; 
and, as our Saviour reproves them fit)m a 
fiMniliAr instance of domestic inconsistency — 



SERMON VI 

would make clean the outside of the cup and 
platter — yet suffer the inside — the most ma- 
terial part, — to be fiill of corruption and ex- 
cess. From this knowledge of the character 
and principles of the pharisee, 'tis easy to ac- 
count for his sentiments and behaviour in the 
temple, which were just such as they would 
have led one to have expected. 

Thus it has always happened, by a fatality 
common to all such abuses of religion, as make 
it to consist in external rites and ceremonies 
more than inward purity and int^rity of heart 
— As these outward things are easily put in 

practice and capable of being attained to, 

without much capacity, or much opposition 
to flesh and blood — it too naturally betrays 
the professors of it into a groimdless persuasion 
of their own godliness, and a despicable one of 
that of others, in their religious capacities, and 
the relations in which they stand towards 
God : which is the very definition of spiritual 
pride. 

When the true heat and spirit of devotion is 
thus lost and extinguished under a cloud of 
ostentatious ceremonies and gestm^s, as is re- 
markable in the Roman Church — where the 
celebration of high mass, when set off* to the 

106 



PHARISEE AND PUBLICAN 

best advantage with all its scenical decorations 
and finery, looks more like a theatrical perform- 
ance, than that humble and solemn appeal 
which dust and ashes are offering up to the 

throne of God ; when reUgion, I say, is 

thus clogged and borne down by such a weight 
of ceremonies — — — it is much easier to put 
in pretensions to holiness upon such a mechan- 
ical system as is left of it, than where the char- 
acter is only to be got and maintained by a 
painful conflict and perpetual war against the 
passions. 'Tis easier, for instance, for a zealous 
papist to cross himself and tell his beads, than 
for an humble protestant to subdue the lusts 
of anger, intemperance, cruelty and revenge, to 
appear before his Maker with that preparation 
of mind which becomes him. The operation 
of being sprinkled with holy water, is not so 
difficult in itself, as that of being chaste and 
spotless within — conscious of no dirty thought 
or dishonest action. 'Tis a much shorter way 
to kneel down at a confessional and receive 
absolution ^ than to live so to deserve it — 
not at the hands of men — but at the hands of 
God — who sees the heart, and cannot be im- 
posed upon. The achievement of keeping 

Lent, or abstaining &om flesh on certain days, 



SERMON VI 

is not so hard, as that of ahstaining from the 
works of it at all times — especially, as the 
point is generally managed among the richer 
sort with such art and epicurism at their tables 
— and with such indulgence to a poor morti- 
fied appetite — that an entertainment upon a 
fast is much more likely to produce a surf at 
than a fit of sorrow. 

One might run the parallel much £Euilier, 
but this may be sufficient to show how dan- 
gerous and delusive these mistakes are, — how 
apt to mislead and overset weak minds, which 
are ever apt to be caught by the pomp of such 
external parts of religion. This is so evident, 
that even in our own church, where there is 
the greatest chastity in things of this nature — 
and of which none are retained in our worship, 
but what, I believe, tend to excite and assist 
it — yet so strong a propensity is there in our 

nature to sense and so unequal a match is 

the understanding of the bulk of mankind, for 
the impressions of outward things — that we 
see thousands who every day mistake the 
shadow for the substance, and was it fairly put 
to the trial, would exchange the reality for the 
appearance. 

You see this was almost universally the case 

108 



PHARISEE AND PUBLICAN 

of the Jewish church — where, for want of 
proper guard and distinction betwixt the means 
of religion and religion itself, the ceremonial 
part in time ate away the moral part, and left 
nothing but a shadow behind. — 'Tis to be 
feared the buffooneries of the Romish church 
bid fair to do it the same ill office, to the dis- 
grace and utter ruin of Christianity wherever 
popery is established. What then remains, 
but that we rectify these gross and pernicious 
notions of religion, and place it upon its true 
bottom, which we can only do, by bringing 
back religion to that cool point of reason which 
first showed us its obligation — by always re- 
membering that God is a spirit — ^and must 
be worshipped suitable to his nature, i. e. in 
spirit and in truth — and that the most accept- 
able sacrifice we can offer him is a virtuous and 
upright mind — and however necessary it is, 
not to leave the ceremonial and positive parts 
of religion undone — yet not like the Pharisee 
to rest there and omit the weightier mat- 
ters, but keep this in \'iew perpetually, that 
though the instrumental duties of religion are 
duties of unquestionable obligation to us — yet 
they are still but Instrumental Duties, con- 
ducive to the great end of all religion — which 



SERMON VI 

is to purify our hearts — and conquer our pas- 
sions — and, in a word, to make us wiser and 
better men — better neighbours — better citi- 
zens and better servants to GrOD. 

To whom, &a 



no 



SERMON VII 

VINDICATION OF HUMAN NATURE 
For none of hb liveth to himself. — Bomasb ziy. 7. 



THERE is not a sentence in scripture, 
which strikes a narrow soul with greater 
astonishment; — and one might as easily 
engage to clear up the darkest problem in 
geometry to an ignorant mind, as make a sor- 
did one comprehend the truth and reasonable- 
ness of this plain proposition — No man liveth 
to himself! — Why? — Does any man live to 
anything else? — In the whole compass of 
human life, can a prudent man steer to a safer 
point? — Not to live to himself ! — To whom 
then ? — Can any interests or concerns which 
are foreign to a man's self have such a claim 
over him, that he must serve under them, — 
suspend his own pursuits, — step out of his 
ri^t course, till others have passed by him, 
and attained the several ends and purposes of 
living before him ? 



Ill 



SERMON VII 

If, with a selfish heart, such an inquirer 
should happen to have a speculating head too, 
he will proceed, and ask you whether this 
same principle which the apostle here throws 
out of the life of man, is not in fact the great 
bias of his nature? — that however we may 
flatter ourselves with fine-spun notions of dis- 
interestedness and heroism in what we do ; 
were the most popular of our actions stripped 
naked, and the true motives and intentions of 
them searched to the bottom ; we should find 
little reason for triumph upon that score. 

In a word, he will say, that a man is alto- 
gether a bubble to himself in this matter, and 
that after all that can be said in this behalf, the 
truest definition that can be given of him is 
this, that he is a selfish animal ; and that all 
his actions have so strong a tincture of that 
character, as to show (to whomever else he 
was intended to live) that in fact he lives only 
to himself. 

Before I reply directly to this accusation, I 
cannot help observing by the way, that there 
is scarce anything which has done more dis- 
service to social virtue, than the frequent repre- 
sentations of human nature under this hideous 
picture of deformity, which, by leaving out all 

lis 



IVINDICATION OF HUMAN NATURE 

that is generous and firiendly in the heart of 
man, has sunk him below the level of a brute. 



if he 



of all that 



. composition ■ 
mean-spirited and selfish. Surely, 'tis one step 
towards acting well, to think worthily of our 
nature ; and, as in common life the way to 
make a man honest, is, to suppose him so, and 
treat him as such ; — so here, to set some value 
upon ourselves, enables us to support the char- 
acter, and even inspires and adds sentiments of 
generosity and virtue to those which we have 
already preconceived. The Scripture tells. 
That God made man in his own image, — not 
surely in the sensitive and corporeal part of 
him, that could bear no resemblance with a 
pure and infinite Spirit — but what resemblance 
he bore was undoubtedly in the moral recti- 
tude, and the kind and benevolent affections of 
his nature. And though the brightness of his 
image has been suUicd greatly by the fall of 
man in our first parents, and the characters of 
it rendered still less legible by the many super- 
inductions of his own depraved a^^tites since, 
— yet 'tis a laudable pride and a true greatness 
of mind to cherish a belief, that there is so 
much of that glorious image still left upon it, 
as shall restrain him from base and disgraceful 



SERMON VII 

actions; to answer which end, what thought 
can be more conducive than that of our being 
made in the likeness of the greatest and best 
of Beings ? This is a plain consequence. And 
the consideration of it should have in some 
measure been a protection to human nature, 
from the rough usage she has met with from 
the satirical pens of so many of the French 
writers, as well as of our own country, who 
with more wit than well-meaning have desper- 
ately fallen foul upon the whole species, as a 
set of creatures incapable of either private 
friendship or public spirit, but just as the case 
suited her own interest and advantage. 

That there is selfishness and meanness 
enough in the souls of one part of the world, 
to hurt the credit of the other part of it, is 
what I shall not dispute against ; but to judge 
of the whole from this bad sample, and because 
one man is plotting and artful in his nature ; — 
or, a second openly makes his pleasure or his 
profit the whole centre of all his designs ; — or 
because a third strait-hearted wretch sits con- 
fined within himself, — feels no misfortunes, 
but those which touch himself; — to involve 
the whole race without mercy under such 
detested characters, is a conclusion as false as 

114 



INDICATION OF HUMAN NATURE 

it is pernicious ; and was it in general to gain 
credit, would serve no end, but the rooting out 
of our nature all that is generous, and planting 
in the stead of it such an aversion to each other, 
as must untie the bands of society, and rob us 
of one of the greatest pleasures of it, the mu- 
tual communications of kind offices ; and by 
poisoning the fountain, render everything sus- 
pected that flows through it. 

To the honour of human nature, the scrip- 
ture teaches us, that God made man upright, 
— and though he has since found out many 
inventions, which have much dishonoured this 
noble structure, yet the foundation of it stands 
as it was, — the whole frame and design of it 
carried on upon social virtue and public spirit, 
and every member of us so evidently supported 
by this strong cement, that we may say with 
the apostle, that no man tiveth to himself. In 
whatsoever light we view him, we shall see 
evidently, that there is no station or condition 
of his life, — no office or relation, or circum- 
stance, but there arise from it so many ties, so 
many indispensable claims upon him, as must 
perpetually carry him beyond any selfish con- 
sideration, and show plainly, that was a man 
foolishly wicked enough to design to live to him- 



SERMON VII 

self alone, he would either find it impracticable, 
or he would lose, at least, the very thing which 
made life itself desirable. We know that our 
Creator, like an all-wise contriver, in this, as 
in all other of his works, has implanted in 
mankind such appetites and inclinations as 
were suitable for their state ; that is, such as 
would naturally lead him to the love of society 
and friendship, without which he would have 
been found in a worse condition than the very 
beasts of the field. No one, therefore, who 
lives in society, can be said to live to himself, 
— he lives to his God, — to his king, and his 
country. — He lives to his family, to his Mends, 
to all under his trust, and in a word, he lives to 
the whole race of mankind; whatsoever has 
the character of man, and wears the same im- 
age of God that he does, is truly his brother, 
and has a just claim to his kindness. — That 
this is the case in fact, as weU as in theory, may 
be made plain to any one who has made any 
observations upon human life. — When we 
have traced it through aU its connections — 
viewed it under the several obligations which 
succeed each other in a perpetual rotation 
through the different stages of a hasty pil- 
grimage, we shall find that these do operate 

116 



VINDICATION OF HUMAN NATURE 

so stronffly upon it, and lay us justly under so 
aumy ^mZ that we J^ evlry h><.r u^- 
a4 -methi^ to society, in ^ for the 
benefits we receive from it. 

To illustrate this, let us take a short sur- 
vey of the life of any one man (not liable to 
great exceptions, but such a life as is com- 
mon to most) ; let us examine it merely to this 
point, and try how far it will answer such a 
representation. 

If we begin with him in that early age 
wherein the strongest marks of undisguised 
tenderness and disinterested compassion show 
themselves — I might previously observe, with 
what impressions he is come out of the hands 
of Gk)D, with the very bias upon his nature, 
which prepares him for the character which he 

was designed to fidfiL But let us pass by 

the years which denote childhood, as no lawful 
evidence, youll say, in this dispute ; let us fol- 
low him to the period, when he is just got 
loose from tutors and governors, when his ac- 
tions may be argued upon with less exception. 
If you observe, you will find that one of the 
first and leading propensities of his nature is 
that, which discovers itself in the desire of 
society, and the spontaneous love towards 

IIT 



SERMON VII 

those of his kind. And though the natural 
wants and exigencies of his condition are, no 
doubt, one reason of this amiable impulse, — 
God having founded that in him as a provis- 
ional security to make him social ; — yet though 

it is a reason in nature 'tis a reason to 

him yet undiscovered. Youth is not apt to 

philosophise so deeply — but follows, as 

it feels itself prompted by the inward workings 
of benevolence — without view to itself, or 
previous calculation either of the loss or profit 
which may accrue. Agreeably to this, observe 
how warmly, how heartily he enters into friend- 
ships, — how disinterested, and unsuspicious in 
the choice of them, — how generous and open 
in his professions 1 — how sincere and honest in 
making them good 1 — When his friend is in 
distress, — what lengths he will go, — what 
hazards he will bring upon himself, — what 
embarrassment upon his affairs to extricate 
and serve him ! If man is altogether a selfish 
creature (as these moralisers would make him) 
'tis certain he does not arrive at the full matu- 
rity of it, in this time of his life. — No. If he 
deserves any accusation, 'tis in the other ex- 
treme, " That in his youth he is generally more 
FOOL than knave," — and so far frx>m be- 
ns 



VINDICATION OF HUMAN NATURE 

ing suspected of living to himself, that he lives 
rather to everybody else ; the unconsciousness 
of art and design, in his own intentions, ren- 
dering him so utterly void of suspicion of it in 
others, as to leave him too oft a bubble to 
every one who will take the advantage. — But 
youll say, he soon abates of these transports 
of disinterested love ; and as he grows older, — 
grows wiser, and learns to live more to himself. 

Let us examine. 

That a longer knowledge of the world, and 
some experience of insincerity, — will teach 
him a lesson of more caution in the choice of 
friendships, and less forwardness in the undis- 
tinguished offers of his services, is what I grant. 
But if he cools of these, does he not grow 
warmer still in connections of a different kind ? 
Follow him, I pray you, into the next stage of 
life, where he has entered into engagements, 
and appears as the father of a family, and 
you will see the passion stiU remains — the 
stream somewhat more confined, — but runs 
the stronger for it. — The same benevolence of 
heart altered only in its course, and the differ- 
ence of objects towards which it tends. Take 
a short view of him in this light, as acting 
under the many tender claims which that 

no 



SERMON VII 

relation lays upon him, — spending many weary 
days, and sleepless nights — utterly forgetful 
of himself, intent only upon his family, and 
with an anxious heart contriving and labouring 
to preserve it from distress, against that hour 
when he shall be taken from its protection. 
Does such a one live to himself? — He who 
rises early, late takes rest, and eats the bread 
of carefulness, to save others the sorrow of 
doing so after him. Does such a one live only 
to himself ? — Ye, who are parents, answer this 
question for him, How oft have ye sacrificed 

your health, — your ease, your pleasures, 

— nay, the very comforts of your lives, for the 
sake of your children ? — How many indul- 
gences have ye given up ? — What self-denials 
and difficulties have ye cheerftdly undergone for 
them ? — In their sickness, or reports of their 
misconduct, how have ye gone on your way sor- 
rowing ? What alarms within you, when fancy 
forebodes but imaginary misfortunes hanging 
over them, but when real ones have overtaken 
them, and mischief befallen them in the way in 
which they have gone^ how sharper than a 
sword have ye felt the workings of parental 
kindness ? In whatever period of human life 
we look for proofs of selfishness, — let us not 

120 ' 



VINDICATION OF HUMAN NATURE 

seek them in this relation of a parent, whose 
whole life, when truly known, is often little 
else but a succession of cares, heart-aches, and 
disquieting apprehensions, — enough to show 
that he is but an mstrument in the hands of 
God to provide for the well-being of others, to 
serve their mterest as weU as his own. 

If you try the truth of this reasonmg upon 
every other part or situation of the same life, 
you will find it holds good in one degree or 
other. Take a view of it out of these closer 
connections both of a friend and parent. — 
Consider him for a moment imder that natural 
alliance in which even a heathen poet has 
placed him ; namely, that of a man ; — and as 
such, to his honour, as one incapable of stand- 
ing unconcerned in whatever concerns his 
feUow-creatures. — Compassion has so great a 
share in our nature, and the miseries of this 
world are so constant an exercise of it, as to 
leave it in no one's power (who deserves the 
name of man), in this respect, to Uve to himself. 

He cannot stop his ears against the cries of 
the unfortunate. — The sad story of the father- 
less and him that has no helper must be heard. 
— The sorrowful sighing of the prisoner wiU 
come before him ; and a tiiousand other untold 



SERMON VII 

cases of distress to which the life of man is 
subject, find a way to his heart, let interest 
guide the passage as it will — if he has this 
worlds goods, and seeth his brother have need, 
he will not be able to shut up his bowels of com- 
passion from him. 

Let any man of common humanity look 
back upon his own life as subjected to these 
strong claims, and recollect the influence they 
have had upon him. How oft the mere im- 
pulses of generosity and compassion have led 
him out of his way ? — In how many acts of 
charity and kindness, his fellow-feeling for 
others has made him forget hunself? — In 
neighbourly offices, how oft he has acted against 
all considerations of profits, convenience, nay 
sometimes even of justice itself ? — Let him add 
to this account, how much, in the progress of 
his life, has been given up even to the lesser 
obligations of civility and good manners? — 
What restraints they have laid him under ? 
How large a portion of his time, — how much 
of his inclination and the plan of life he should 
most have wished, has from time to time been 
made a sacrifice to his good nature, and disin- 
clination to give pain or disgust to others ? 

Whoever takes a view of the life of man in 



3ICATION OF HUMAN NATURE 

this glass wherein I have shown it, will find it 
so beset and hemmed in with obligations of one 
land or other, as to leave little room to suspect, 
that man can live to himself: and so closely has 
our Creator linked us together (as well as all 
other parts of his works) for the preservation 
of that harmony in the frame and system of 
things which his wisdom has at first estabUshed, 
— that we find this bond of mutual dependence, 
however relaxed, is too strong to be broke : 
and I believe, that the most selfish men find it 
so, and that they cannot, in fact, Uve so much 
to themselves as the narrowness of their own 
hearts incUnes them. If these reflections are 
just upon the moral relations in which we 
stand to each other, let us close the exam- 
ination with a short reflection upon the great 
relation in which we stand to God. 

The first and more natural thought on this 
subject, which at one time or other will thrust 
itself upon every man's mind, is this, — - That 
there is a God who made me, — to whose gift 
I owe all the powers and faculties of my soul, 
to whose providence I owe all the blessings of 
my life, and by whose permission it is that I 
exercise and enjoy them ; tliat I am placed in 
this world as a creature of but a day, hastening 



SERMON VII 

to the place fix)m whence I shall not return — 
That I am accountable for my conduct and 
behaviour to this great and wisest of Beings, 
before whose judgment-seat I must finally 
appear, and receive the things done in my 
body, — whether they are good, or whether 
they are bad 

Can any one doubt but the most inconsider- 
ate of men sometimes sit down coolly, and 
make some such plain reflections as these upon 
their state and condition ? — or, that after they 
have made them, can one imagine they lose all 
effect ? — As little appearance as there is of re- 
ligion in the world, there is a great deal of its 
influence felt in its afiairs — nor can one so 
root out the principles of it, but like nature 
they will return again, and give checks and 
interruptions to guilty pursuits. There are 
seasons, when the thoughts of a just God over- 
looking, and the terror of an after-reckonmg, 
have made the most determined tremble, and 
stop short in the execution of a wicked pur- 
pose ; and if we conceive that the worst of men 
lay some restraint upon themselves from the 
weight of this principle, what shall we think of 
the good and virtuous part of the world, who 
live under the perpetual influence of it, — who 



VINDICATION OF HUMAN NATURE 

sacrifice their appetites and passions jfrom a 
consciousness of their duty to Gk)D ; and con- 
sider him as the object to whom they have 
dedicated their service, and make that the first 
principle, and ultimate end of all their actions ? 
-How many real and unaffected instances 
there are in the world of men thus governed, 
will not concern us so much to inquire, as to 
take care that we are of the nimiber : which 
may Gk)D grant for the sake of Jesus Christ 
Amen. 



195 



SERMON VIII 

TIME AND CHANCE 

I retamed and aaw under the son, that the race is not to theswift, 
— nor the battle to the strong, — neither yet bread to the wise, 
nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet iayour to men of 
skill, — but time and chance happeneth to them alL 

ECCLSBIABTIB ix. 11. 

Til 71SEN a man casts a look upon this 
W melancholy description of the world, 
and sees, contrary to all his guesses 
and expectations, what different fates attend 
the lives of men, — how oft it happens in 
the world, that there is not even bread to the 
wise, nor riches to men of understanding, kc 

he is apt to conclude with a sigh upon 

it, in the words, though not in the 

sense of the wise man, That time and 

chance happeneth to them all That time 

and chance, — apt seasons and fit conjunctures 
have the greatest sway, in the turns and dis- 
posals of men's fortunes. And that, as these 
lucky hits (as they are called) happen to be for, 

197 



SERMON VIII 

or against a man, — they either open the way 
to his advancement against all obstacles, — or 
block it up against aU helps and attempts. 
That as the text intimates, neither xjcisdom^ 
nor understandings nor skilly shall be able to 
surmomit them. 

However widely we may differ in om* reason- 
ings upon this observation of Solomon's, the 
authority of the observation is strong beyond 
doubt, and the evidence given of it in all ages 
so alternately confirmed by examples and com- 
plaints, as to leave the fact itself unquestion- 
able — That things are carried on in this 
world, sometimes so contrary to all our reason- 
ing, and the seeming probabilities of success, — 
that even the race is not to the swift, nor the 
battle to the strong, — nay what is stranger still 
— nor yet bread to the wise, who should last 
stand in want of it, — nor yet riches to men of 
understanding, who you think best qualified to 
acquire them, — nor yet favour to men of skill, 
whose merit and pretences bid the fairest for 
it, — but that there are some secret and un- 
seen workings in human affairs, which baffle 
all our endeavours, — and turn aside the course 
of things in such a manner, — that the most 
likely causes disappoint and fail of producing 

1^ 



TIME AND CHANCE 

for us the effect which we wished and naturally 
expected from them. 

You will see a man, of whom was you to 
form a conjecture frx)m the appearance of 

things in his favour, you would say was 

setting out in the world, with the fairest pros- 
pect of making his fortune in it ; — with all 
the advantages of birth to recommend hun. - 
of personal merit to speak for him — and of 
friends to help and push him forwards : you 
wiU behold him, notwithstanding this, dis- 
appointed in every effect you might naturally 
have looked for, frx)m them ; every step he takes 
towards his advancement, somethmg mvisible 
shall pull him back, some unforeseen obstacle 
shall rise up perpetually in his way, and keep 

him there. In every application he 

makes — some untoward circumstance shall 

blast it. — He shall rise early, late take 

rest, and eat the bread of carefulness, — 

yet some happier man shall still rise up, and 
ever step in before him, and leave him strug- 
gling to the end of his life, in the very same 
place in which he first began it. 

The history of a second, shall in all respects 
be the contrast to this. He shall come into 
the world with the most unpromising appear- 

199 



SERMON VIII 

ance, — shall set forwards without fortune, 
without friends, — without talents to procure 
him either the one or the other. Nevertheless, 
you will see this clouded prospect brighten up 
insensibly, unaccountably before him ; every- 
thing presented in his way shall turn out be- 
yond his expectations, — in spite of that chain 
of insurmountable difficulties which first threat- 
ened hun, —tune and chance shall open hhn a 

way, a series of successful occurrences 

shsJl lead him by the hand to the summit of 
honour and fortune, and, in a word, without 
giving him the pains of thinking, or the credit 
of projecting it, shall place him in safe posses- 
sion of all that ambition could wish for. 

The histories of the Uves and fortimes of 
men are fuU of instances of this nature, — 
where favourable times and lucky accidents 
have done for them, what wisdom or skill 
could not: and there is scarce any one who 
has lived long in the world, who upon look- 
ing backwards will not discover such a mix- 
ture of these in the many successful turns 
which have happened in this life, as to leave 
him very little reason to dispute against the 
fact, and, I should hope, as little upon the 
conclusions to be drawn from it. 

ISO 



TIME AND CHANCE 

Some, indeed, from a superficial view of this 
representation of things, have atheistically in- 
ferred, that because there was so much 

of lottery in this life, and mere casualty 

seemed to have such a share in the disposal of 

our affairs, that the providence of God 

stood neuter and unconcerned in their several 
workings, leaving them to the mercy of time 
and chance to be furthered or disappointed as 
such blind agents directed. Whereas in truth 
the very opposite conclusion foUows. For 

consider, if a superior intelligent Power 

did not sometimes cross and overrule events in 
this world, — then our policies and designs in 
it would always answer according to the wis- 
dom and stratagem in which they were laid, 
and every cause, in the course of things, would 
produce its natural effect without variation. 
Now as this is not the case, it necessarily fol- 
lows from Solomon's reasoning, that, if the 
race is not to the swift, if knowledge and learn- 
ing do not always secure men from want, — 
nor care and industry always make men rich, 
— nor art and skill infallibly make men high 
in the world ; that there is some other cause 
which mingles itself in human affairs, and 
governs and turns them as it pleases ; which 

isi 



SERMON VIII 

cause can be no other than the First Cause of 
all things, and the secret and overruling provi- 
dence of that Almighty God, who though his 
dwelling is so high, yet he humbleth himself to 
behold the things that are done on earth, rais- 
ing up the poor out of the dust, and lifting the 
beggar from the dunghill, and contrary to all 
hopes putting him with princes, even with the 
princes of his people ; which, by the way, was 
the case of David, who makes the acknowledg- 
ment! — And no doubt — one reason, why 
God has selected to his own disposal, so many 
in^nces as this, where events haye run coun- 
ter to all probabilities, — was to give testimony 
to his providence m governing the world, and 
to engage us to a consideration and dependence 
upon it, for the event and success of our under- 
takings.* For undoubtedly — as I said, it 
should seem but suitable to nature's laws, that 
the race should ever be to the swift, — and the 
battle to the strong ; — it is reasonable that 
the best contrivances and means should have 
best success, — and since it often falls out 
otherwise in the case of man, where the wisest 
projects are overthrown, — and the most hope- 

* Fide Tillotson's Sermon on this subject 



TIME AND CHANCE 

fill means are blasted, and time and chance 
happen to all ; — you must call on the Deity 
to untie this knot: — for though at sundry 

times simdry events fall out — which we, 

who look no farther than the events them- 
selves, call Chance, because they fall out quite 
contrary both to our intentions and our hopes, 

yet at the same time, in respect of 

God's providence overruling in these events, it 
were profane to call them chance, for they are 
pure designation, and though invisible, are stiU 
the regular dispensations of the superintending 
power of that Almighty Being, from whom all 
the laws and powers of nature are derived, who, 

as he has appointed, so holds them as 

instruments in his hands : and without invad- 
ing the liberty and freewill of his creatures, 
can turn the passions and desires of their 
hearts to frilfil his own righteousness, and 
work such effects in human affairs, which 
to us seem merely casual^ — but to him, cer- 
tain and determined, and what his infinite 
wisdom sees necessary to be brought about 
for the government and preservation of the 
world, over which Providence perpetually 
presides. 

When the sons of Jacob had cast their 

133 



SERMON Vin 

brother Joseph mto the pit for his destruc- 
tion, — one would think, if ever any incident 
which concerned the life of man deserved to 
be called Chance, it was this, — That the com- 
pany of the Ishmaelites should happen to pass 
by, in that open country, at that very place, 
at that time too, when this barbarity was com- 
mitted. After he was rescued by so favourable 
a contingency, — his life and future fortune 
still depended upon a series of contingencies 
equally improbable ; for instance, had the busi- 
ness of the Ishmaelites who bought him, 
carried them from Gilead, to any other part of 
the world besides Eg3rpt, or when they arrived 
there, had they sold their bond-slave to any 
other man than Potiphar, throughout the 
whole empire, — or, after that dii^K)sal, had 
the unjust accusations of his master s wife cast 
the youth into any other dungeon, than that 
where the king's prisoners were kept, — or had 
it fallen out at any other crisis than when 
Pharaoh's chief butler was cast there too, — 
had this, or any other of these events fallen 
out otherwise than it did, — a series of un- 
merited misfortunes had overwhelmed him, — 
and in consequence the whole land of Egypt 
and Canaan. From the first opening, to the 

1S4 



TIME AND CHANCE 

conclusion of this long and interesting trans- 
action, the Prov-idence of God suffered every- 
thing to take its course : the malice and cruelty 
of Joseph's brethren wrought their worst mis- 
chief against him ; banished him from his 
country and the protection of his parent. — 
The lust and baseness of a disappointed woman 
sunk him still deeper ; — loaded his character 
with an unjust reproach, — and, to complete 
his ruin, doomed him, friendless, to the oiiseries 
of a hopeless prison, where he lay neglected. 
Providence, though it did not cross these 
events, — yet Providence bent them to the 
most merciful ends. When the whole Drama 
was opened, then the wisdom and contrivance 
of every part of it was displayed. Then it 
appeared, it was not they (as the patriarch in- 
ferred in consolation of his brethren), it was 
not they that sold him, but God ; — 'twas he 
sent him thither before them, his super- 
intending power availed itself of their passions, 

— directed the operations of them, held the 
chain in his hand, and turned and wound it to 
his own purpose. " Ye verily thought evil 
against me, but God meant it for good, 

— ye had the guilt of a bad intention, — his 
Providence the glory of accomplishing a good 




SERMON VIII 

one, by preserving you a posterity upon the 

earthy and bringing to pass as it is this day^ to 
save much people alive'' All history is full of 
such testimonies, which tho' they may convince 
those who look no deeper than the surface of 
things, that time and chance happen to all, — 
yet to those who look deeper, they manifest at 
the same time, that there is a hand much 
busier in human affairs than what we vainly 
calculate ; which though the projectors of this 
world overlook, — or at least make no allow- 
ance for in the formation of their plans, they 
generally find in the execution of them. And 
though the fatalist may urge, that every event 
in this life is brought about by the ministry 
and chain of natural causes, — yet, in answer, 
let him go one step higher — and consider — 
whose power it is, that enables these causes to 
work, — whose knowledge it is, that foresees 
what will be their effects, — whose goodness it 
is, that is invisibly conducting them forwards 
to the best and greatest ends for the happiness 
of his creatures. 

So that, as a great reasoner justly distin- 
guishes, upon this point, — "It is not only 
religiously speaking, but with the strictest and 
most philosophical truth of expression, that 

136 



TIME AND CHANCE 

the Scripture tells us, thai God commandeth the 
ravens, — that they are his directions which ^he 
winds and the seas obey. If his servant hides 
himself by the brook, such an order, of causes 
and effects shall be laid, — that the fowls of 

the air shall minister to his support When 

this resource fails, and his prophet is directed 
to go to Zarephath, — for that he has com- 
manded a widow woman there to sustain hun, 
— the same hand which leads the prophet to 
the gate of the city, — shall lead forth the dis- 
tressed widow to the same place, to take him 
under her roof, and though upon the impulse 
of a different occasion, shall nevertheless be 
made to fiilfil his promise and intention of 
their mutual preservation." 

Thus much for the truth and illustration of 
this great and fundamental doctrine of a Provi- 
dence ; the belief of which is of such conse- 
quence to us, as to be the great support and 
comfort of our lives. 

Justly therefore might the Psalmist upon 
this declaration, — that the Lord is King — 
conclude, that the earth may be glad there- 
fore, yea the multitude of the isles may be 
glad thereof. 

May Gk)D grant the persuasion may make us 

1S7 



SERMON VIII 

as virtuous, as it has reason to make us jojrful ; 
and that it may bring forth in us the fruits of 
good living, to his praise and glory I — to 
whom be aU might, majesty, and dominion, 
now and for evermore. Amen. 



SERMON IX 

THE CHARACTER OF HEROD • 

Then was folfilled that which WM spoken bj Jeremy the prophet, 

•aying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, 

and weeping, and great mourning ; Rachel weeping for her chil- 
dren, and would not be comforted, becanae thej are not. 

Matthsw iL 17, 18. 

THE words which St Matthew cites here 
as fulfilled by the cruelty and ambition 
of Herod, — are in the 81st chapter of 
Jeremiah, the 15th verse. In the foregoing 
chapter, the prophet having declared (tOd's 
intention of turning the mourning of his 
people into joy, by the restoration of the tribes 
which had been led away captive into Babylon; 
he proceeds, in the beginning of this chapter, 
which contains this prophecy, to give a more 
particular description of the great joy and fes- 
tivity of that promised day, when they were 
to return once more to their own land, to enter 
upon their ancient possessions, and enjoy again 
all the privileges they had lost, and amongst 

* Preached on Innocents' Day. 

130 



SERMON IX 

others, and what was above them all, — the 
favour and protection of GrOD, and the con- 
tinuation of his mercies to them and their 
posterity. 

To make therefore the impression of this 
change the stronger upon their minds — he 
gives a very pathetic representation of the pre- 
ceding sorrow on that day when they were first 
led away captive. 

Thus saith the Lord, A voice was heard in 
Rama; lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel 
weeping for her children, refusing to be com- 
forted, because they were not. 

To enter into the fiill sense and beauty of 
this description, it is to be remembered that 
the tomb of Rachel, Jacob's beloved wife, as 
we read in the 85th of Genesis, was situated 
near Rama, and betwixt that place and Beth- 
lehem. Upon which circumstance the prophet 
raises one of the most affecting scenes, that 
could be conceived ; for as the tribes in their 
sorrowful journey betwixt Rama and Bethle- 
hem, in their way to Babylon, were supposed 
to pass by this monumental pillar of their an- 
cestor Rachel, Jacob's wife, the prophet, by a 
common liberty in rhetoric, introduces her as 
rising up out of her sepulchre, and as the com- 

140 



THE CHARACTER OF HEROD 

mon mother of two of their tribes, weeping for 
her children, bewailing the sad catastrophe of 
her posterity led away into a strange land — 
refusing to be comforted because they were 
not; — lost and cut off from their country, and, 
in all likelihood, never to be restored back to 
her again. 

The Jewish interpreters say upon this, that 
the patriarch Jacob biuied Rachel in this very 
place, foreseeing by the spirit of prophecy, 
that his posterity should that way be led cap- 
tive, that she might, as they passed, here inter- 
cede for them. 

But this fanciful superstructure upon the 
passage, seems to be little else than a mere 
dream of some of the Jewish doctors ; and in- 
deed had they not dreamt it when they did, 'tis 
great odds, but some of the Romish dreamers 
would have hit upon it before now. For as it 
fiivours the doctrine of intercessions — if there 
had not been undeniable vouchers for the real 
inventors of the conceit, one should much 
sooner have sought for it among the oral tradi- 
tions of this church, than in the Talmud, where 
it is. 

But this by the bye. There is still another 
interpretation of the words here cited by St. 

HI 



SERMON IX 

Matthew, which altogether excludes this scen- 

ical representation I have given of them. 

By which 'tis thought that the lamentation of 
Rachel here described, has no immediate refer- 
ence to Rachel, Jacob's wife, but that it simply 
alludes to the sorrows of her descendants, the 
distressed mothers of the tribes of Benjamin 
and Ephraim. who might accompany their 
children led into captivity as far as Rama, in 
their way to Babylon, who wept and wailed 
upon this sad occasion, and as the prophet de- 
scribes them in the person of Rachel, refusing 
to be comforted for the loss of her children, 
looking upon their departure without hope or 
prospect of ever beholding a return. 

Whichever of the two senses you give the 
words of the prophet, the application of them 
by the evangeUst is equally just and faithfuL 
For as the former scene he relates, was trans- 
acted upon the very same stage, — in the same 

district of Bethlehem near Rama where 

so many mothers of the same tribe now suf- 
fered this second most affecting blow — the 
words of Jeremiah, as the evangelist observes, 
were literally accomplished, and no doubt, in 
that horrid day, a voice was heard again in 
Rama, lamentation and bitter weeping — 

149 



THE CHARACTER OF HEROD 

Rachel weeping for lier children, and refus- 
ing to be comforted ; — every Bethlehemitish 
mother involved in this calamity, beholding it 
with hopeless sorrow — gave vent to it — each 
one bewailing her children, and lamenting the 
hardness of their lot, with the anguish of a 
heart as incapable of consolation, as they were 
of redress. Monster ! — - could no consideration 
of all this tender sorrow, stay thy hands ? — 
Could no reflection upon so much bitter lamen- 
tation, throughout the coasts of Bethlehem, 
interpose and plead in behalf of so many 
wretched objects, as this tragedy would make ? 

Was there no way open to ambition but 

that thou must trample upon the affections 
of nature ? Could no pity for the innocence of 
childhood — no sympathy for the yearnings of 
parental love, incline thee to some other meas- 
ures, for thy security — but thou must thus 
pitilessly rush in — take the victim by violence 
— tear it from the embraces of the mother — 
offer it up before her eyes — leave her discon- 
solate for ever — broken-hearted with a loss 

so affecting in itself so circumstanced with 

horror, that no time, how friendly soever to 
the mournful — should ever be able to wear 
out the impression ? 



SERMON IX 



There is nothing in which the mind of man 
is more divided than in accounts of this honrid 

nature. For when we consider man as 

fashioned by his Maker — innocent and up- 
right — full of the tenderest dispositicms — 
with a heart inclining him to kindness, and 
the love and protection of his species — this 
idea of him would almost shake the credit of 
^ch accounts; — so that to clear th^n, we 

are forced to take a second view of man 

very different from this &vourable one^ in 
which we insensibly represent him tx> our 

imaginations ; — that is we are obliged to 

consider him — not as he was made but 

as he is — a creature by the violoice and ir- 
regularity of his passions capable of being per- 
verted firom all tiiese friendly and benevolent 
propensities, and sometimes hurried into ex- 
cesses so opposite to them, as to render the 
most unnatural and horrid accounts of what 
he does but too probable. — The truth of this 
observation will be exemplified in the case be- 
fore us. For next to the faith and character 

of the historian who reports such facts, 

the particular character of the person who 
committed them is to be considered as a 
voucher for their truth and credibility ; — and 

144 



THE CHARACTER OF HEROD 

if, upon inquiry, it appears, that the man acted 
but consistent with himself, — and just so you 
have expected from his principles, — the credit 

of the historian is restored, and the fact 

related stands incontestable, from so strong 

and concurring an evidence on its side. 

With this view, it may not be an unac- 
ceptable application of the remaining part of 
a discourse upon this day, to give you a sketch 
of the character of Herod, not as drawn inrom 
scripture, — for in general it furnishes us with 
few materials for such descriptions; — the 
sacred scripture cuts off in few words the 
history of the ungodly, how great soever they 
were in the eyes of the world, — and on the 
other hand dwells largely upon the smallest 

actions of the righteous. We find all 

the circumstances of the lives of Abraham, 
Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, recorded in the mi- 
nutest manner. — The wicked seem only men- 
tioned with regret; just brought upon the 
stage, on purpose to be condemned. The use 
and advantages of which conduct — is, I sup- 
pose, the reason — as in general it enlarges on 
no character, but what is worthy of imitation. 
Tis however imdeniable, that the lives of bad 
men are not without use, — and whenever such 

li5 



SERMON IX 

a one is drawn, not with a corrupt view to be 
admired, — but on purpose to be detested — it 
must excite such a horror against vice, as will 
strike indirectly the same good impression. 
And though it is painful in the last degree 
to paint a man in the shades which his vices 
have cast upon him, — yet when it serves this 
end, and at the same time illustrates a point 
in sacred history — it carries its own excuse 
with it 

This Herod, therefore, of whom the evan- 
gelist speaks, if you take a superficial view of 
his life, you would say was a compound of 
good and evil, — that though he was certainly 
a bad man, — yet you would think the mass 
was tempered at the same time with a mixture 
of good qualities. So that in course, as is not 
uncommon, he would appear with two charac- 
ters very different from each other. If you 
looked on the more favourable side, you would 
see a man of great address — popular in his 
behaviour — generous, prince-like in his enter- 
tainments and expenses, and, in a word, set off 
with all such virtues and showy properties, as 
bid high for the countenance and approbation 
of the world. 

View him in another light, he was an ambi- 

146 



THE CHARACTER OF HEROD 

tious, designing man, — suspicious of all the 
world, — rapacious, — implacable in his temper, 
without sense of religion, — or feeling of hu- 
manity. Now in all such complex char- 
acters as this, — the way the world usually 

judges, is, to sum up the good and the 

bad against each other, — deduct the lesser of 
these articles from the greater, and (as we do 
in passing other accounts) give credit to the 
man for what remains upon the balance. 

Now, though this seems a fair, yet I fear 

it is often a fallacious reckoning, — which, 
though it may serve in many ordinary cases 
of private life, yet will not hold good in the 
more notorious instances of men's lives, espe- 
cially when so complicated with good and bad, 
as to exceed all common bounds and propor- 
tions. Not to be deceived in such cases, we 
must work by a different rule, which, though 

it may appear less candid, yet, to make 

amends, I am persuaded will bring us in gen- 
eral much nearer to the thing we want, 

which is truth. The way to this is in all 

judgments of this kind, to distinguish, and 
carry in your eye, the principal and ruling 
passion which leads the character — and sep- 
arate that from the other parts of it, 



SERMON IX 

and then take notice, how far his other qual- 
ities, good and bad, are brought to serve and 
support that. For want of this distinction, 
we often think ourselves inconsistent creatures, 
when we are the farthest from it, and all the 
variety of shapes and contradictory appear- 
ances we put on are in truth but so many dif- 
ferent attempts to gratify the same governing 
appetite. 

With this clue, let us endeavour to unravel 
this character of Herod as here given. 

The first thmg which strikes one in it, is 
ambition, an immoderate thirst, as well as 
jealousy, of power ; — how inconsistent soever 
in other parts, his character appears invariable 
in this, and every action of his life was true to 
it. — From hence we may venture to conclude, 
that this was his ruling passion, — and that 
most, if not all the other wheels, were put in 
motion by this first spring. Now let us con* 
sider how far this was the case in fact. 

To begin with the worst part of him, — I 
said he was a man of no sense of religion, or at 
least no other sense of it, but that which served 
his turn — for he is recorded to have built 
temples in Judea, and erected images in them 
for idolatrous worship — not from a persuasion 

148 



THE CHARACTER OF HEROD 

of doing right, for he was bred a Jew, and con- 
sequently taught to abhor all idolatry, — but 
he was in truth sacrificing aU this time to a 
greater idol of his own, his ruling passion ; for, 
if we may trust Josephus, his sole view in so 
gross a compliance was to ingratiate himself 
with Augustus, and the great men of Rome, 
fix)m whom he held his power. — With this he 
was greedy and rapacious — how could he be 
otherwise, with so devouring an appetite as 
ambition to provide for ? — He was jealous in 
his nature, and suspicious of all the world 

Show me an ambitious man that is not 

so ; for as such a man's hand, like Ishmael's, is 
against every man, he concludes that every 
man's hand in course is agamst him. 

Few men were ever guilty of more astonish- 
ing acts of cruelty — and yet the particular 
instances of them in Herod were such as he 
was hiuried into by the alarms this waking 
passion perpetually gave him. He put the 
whole Sanhedrim to the sword — sparing 
neither age, wisdom, nor merit one can- 
not suppose, simply from an inclination to 
cruelty — no — they had opposed the establish- 
ment of his power at Jerusalem. 

own sons, two hopeful youths, he cut 



SERMON IX 

off by a public execution. — The worst men 
have natural affection — and such a stroke as 
this would run so contrary to the natural work- 
ings of it, that you are forced to suppose the 
impulse of some more violent inclination to 

overrule and conquer it. And so it was, 

for the Jewish historian tells us, 'twas jealousy 

of power his darling object — of whidi 

he feared they would one day or other dispos- 
sess him — sufficient inducement to transport 
a man of such a temper into the bloodiest 
excesses. 

Thus far this one fatal and extravagant 
passion accounts for the dark side of Herod's 
character. This governing principle being first 
laid open — all his other bad actions follow in 
course, like so many symptomatic complaints 
from the same distemper. 

Let us see, if this was not the case even of 
his virtues too. 

At first sight it seems a mystery how a 

man so black as Herod has been thus far de- 
scribed — should be able to support himself in 
the favour and friendship of so wise and pene- 
trating a body of men as the Roman senate, of 
whom he held his power. To counterbalance 
the weight of so bad and detested a character — 

150 



THE CHARACTER OF HEROD 

and be able to bear it up as Herod did, one 
would think he must have been master of some 

great secret worth inquiring after he was 

so. But that secret was no other than what 
appears on this reverse of his character. — He 
was a person of great address — popular in his 
outward behaviour — He was generous, prince- 
like in his entertainments and expenses. The 
world was then as corrupt, at least, as now — 

and Herod understood it knew at what 

price it was to be bought— and what quaUties 
would bid the highest for its good word and 
approbation. 

And, in truth, he judged this matter so well 

— that notwithstanding the general odium and 
prepossession which arose against so hateful a 
character — in spite of all the impressions, from 
so many repeated complaints of his cruelties 
and oppressions — he yet stemmed the torrent 

— and by the specious display of these popular 
virtues bore himself up against it all his life. — 
So that, at length, when he was summoned to 
Rome to answer for his crimes — Josephus tells 
us — that by the mere magnificence of his ex- 
penses and the apparent generosity of his 

behaviour, he entirely confiited the whole charge 

— and so ingratiated himself with the Roman 

151 



SERMON IX 

senate and won the heart of Augustus (as 

he had that of Anthony before) that he ever 
after had his favour and kindness ; which I can- 
not mention without adding, that it is an eter- 
nal stain upon the character and memory of 
Augustus, that he sold his coimtenance and 
protection to so bad a man, for so mean and 
base a consideration. 

From this point of view, if we look back 
upon Herod — his best qualities will shrink 
into little room, and how glittering soever in 
appearance, when brought to this balance are 
found wanting. And in truth, if we would 
not willingly be deceived in the value of any 
virtue or set of virtues in so complex a char- 
acter — we must call them to this very ac- 
count ; examine whom they serve, what passion 
and what principle they have for their master. 
When this is understood, the whole clue is 
unravelled at once, and the character of 
Herod, as complicated as it is given us in 

history when thus analysed, is summed 

up in three words That he was a man of 

unbounded ambition^ who stuck at nothing to 

gratify it, so that not only his vices 

were ministerial to his ruling passion, but 
his virtues too (if they deserve the name) 

l$9 



THE CHARACTER OF HEROD 

were drawn in, and listed into the same 
service. 

Thus much for the character of Herod — 
the critical review of which has many obvious 
uses, to which I may trust you, having time 
but to mention that particular one which first 
led note into this examination, namely, that all 
objections against the evangelist's account of 
this day's slaughter of the Bethlehemitish 
infants — fix)m the incredibility of so horrid 
an account — are silenced by this account of 
the man ; since, in this, he acted but like him- 
self, and just so as you would expect, in the 
same circumstances, from every man of so 

ambitious a head — and so bad a heart 

Consider, what havoc ambition has made — 
how often the same tragedy has been acted 
upon larger theatres — where not only the 
innocence of childhood — or the gray hairs of 
the aged, have found no protection — but 
whole countries without distinction have been 
put to the sword, or, what is as cruel, have 
been driven forth to nakedness and famine, to 
make way for new ones, under the guidance of 
this passion For a specimen of this, re- 
flect upon the story related by Plutarch : when, 
by the order of the Roman senate, seventy 

iss 



SERMON IX 

populous cities were unawares sacked and de- 
stroyed, at one prefixed hour, by P. ^milius 

by whom one hundred and fifty thousand 

unhappy people were driven in one day into 
captivity — to be sold to the hi^est bidder, 
to end theu* days in cruel labour and anguidi. 
As astonishing as the account before us is, it 
vanishes into nothing fix>m such views, since 
it is plain from all history, that there is no 
wickedness too great for so unbounded a causey 
and that the most horrid accounts in history 
are, as I said above, but too probaUe eflfects 
of it 



« • 



11^ I lit 



May God of his mercy defend 
from future experiments of this kind — and 
grant we may make a proper use of them» fior 
the sake of Jesus Christ Amen. 



154 



SERMON X 

JOB'S ACCOUNT OF THE SHORTNESS AND 
TROUBLES OF LIFE, CONSIDERED 

Man that ii bom of a woman, ii of few days, and foil of 
trouble : — He cometh forth like a flower, and ii cat down ; he 
fleeth alao aa a shadow, and continaeth not — Job xiv. 1, 2. 

THERE is something in this reflection 
of holy Job's, upon the shortness of 
life and instability of human affairs, 
so beautifiil and truly sublime ; that one might 
challenge the writings of the most celebrated 
orators of antiquity, to produce a specimen 
of eloquence, so noble and truly affecting. 
Whether this effect be owing in some meas- 
ure to the pathetic nature of the subject 
reflected on ; or to the eastern manner of 
expression, in a style more exalted and suit- 
able to so great a subject, or (which is the 
more likely account), because they are prop- 
erly the words of that Being, who first in- 
spired man with language, and taught his 
mouth to utter ; who opened the lips of the 

156 



SERMON X 

dumb, and made the tongue of the infant elo- 
quent ; — to which of these we are to refer the 
beauty and sublimity of this, as well as that of 
numberless other passages in holy writ, may 
not seem now material; but surely without 
these helps, never man was better qualified to 
make just and noble reflections upon the short- 
ness of life, and instability of himian affairs, 
than Job was, who had himself waded through 
such a sea of troubles, and in his passage had 
encountered many vicissitudes of storms and 
sunshine, and by turns had felt both the ex- 
tremes, of all the happiness, and all the wretch- 
edness, that mortal man is heir to. 

The beginning of his days was crowned with 
everything that ambition could wish for ; — he 
was the greatest of all the men of the East — 
had large and unbounded possessions, and no 
doubt enjoyed all the comforts and advantages 
of life, which they could administer. — Per- 
haps you will say, a wise man might not be 
inclined to give a full loose to this kind of 
happiness, without some better security for 
the support of it, than the mere possession of 
such goods of fortune, which often slip from 
under us, and sometimes unaccountably make 
themselves wings and fly away. — But he had 

156 



TROUBLES OF LIFE 

that security too, — for the hand of Providence 
which had thus far protected, was stiD leading 
him forwards, and seemed engaged in the pres- 
ervation and continuance of these blessings ; — 
God had set a hedge about him, and about 
all that he had on every side ; he had blessed 
all the works of his liands, and his substance 
increased every day. Indeed, even with this 
security, riches to him that hath neither child 
Tior brother, as the wise man observes, instead 
of a comfort prove sometimes a sore travail 
and vexation. — The mind of man is not al- 
ways satisfied with the reasonable assurance of 
its own enjoyments, but will look forwards, as 
if it discovers some imaginary void, the want 
of some beloved object to fill his place after 
him, will often disquiet itself in vain, and say, 
" For whom do I labour, and bereave 
I myself of rest ? " 

Tliis bar to his happiness God had likewise 
taken away, in blessing him with a numerous 
offspring of sons and daughters, the apparent 
inheritors of all his present happiness. — Pleas- 
ing reflection I to think the blessings God has 
indulged one's self in, shall be handed and con- 
tinued down to a man's own seed ; how little 
does this differ Srom a second enjoyment of 



SERMON X 

them, to an affectionate parent, who naturally 
looks forward with as strong an interest upon 
his children, as if he was to live over again 
in his own posterity ! 

What could be wanting to finish such a pic- 
ture of a happy man? Surely nothing, 

except a virtuous disposition to give a relish 
to these blessings, and direct him to make a 
proper use of them. — He had that too, for 
he was a perfect and upright man, one that 
feared God and eschewed eviL 

In the midst of all this prosperity, which 
was as great as could well fall to the share of 
one man; — whilst all the world looked gay, 
and smiled upon him, and everything round 
him seemed to promise, if possible, an increase 
of happiness, in one instant all is changed to 
sorrow and utter despair. 

It pleased God for wise purposes to blast 
the fortimes of his house, and cut off the hopes 
of his posterity, and in one mournful day to 
bring this great prince from his palace down 
to the dunghill. His flocks and herds, in 
which consisted the abundance of his wealth, 
were part consumed by a fire from heaven, 
the remainder taken away by the sword of 
the enemy: his sons and daughters, whom 

158 



TROUBLES OF LIFE 



imagine so good i 



1 had ! 



'tis natural 1 
brought up i 
him all reasonable hopes of much joy and 
pleasure in their future lives — natural pros- 
pect for a parent to look forwards at, to rec- 
ompense him tor the many cares and anxieties 
which their infancy had cost him I these dear 
pledges of !iis future happiness were all, all 
snatched from him at one blow, just at the 
time that one might imagine they were begin- 
ning to be the comfort and delight of his old 
age, which most wanted such staves to lean 
on ; — and as circumstances add to an evil, so 

they did to this ; for it fell out, not 

only by a i-ery calamitous accident, which was 
grievous enough in itself, but likewise upon 
the back of his other misfortunes, when he was 
ill prepared to bear such a shock ; and what 
would still add to it, it happened at an hour 
when he had least reason to expect it, when 
he would naturally think his children secure 
and out of the way of danger, " For whilst 
they were feasting and making merry in their 
eldest brother's house, a great wind out of the 
wilderness smote the four comers of the house, 
and it fell upon thena." 

Such a concurrence of misfortunes is not 




SERMON X 

the common lot of many : and yet ihsxe aie 
instances pf some who have undefgixie as 
severe trials, and bravely struggled mider 
them ; peiiiaps by natm»l force of spirits» the 
advantages of health, and the ccnrdial assistance 
of a friend And with these helps, "wbst may 
not a man sustain? — But this was not Job's 
case; for scarce had these evils faSksa iqpon 
him, when he was not only borne down with a 
grievous distemper, which afflicted him from 
the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, 
but likewise his three friends, in whose kind 
consoktions he mi^^t have found a medidn^ 

even the wife of his bosom, whose duty 

it was with a gentle hand to have softened aU 
his sorrows, instead of doing this, they cruelly 
insulted and became the reproachers of his 
integrity. O God! what is man when thou 
bruisest him, and makest his burden heavier as 
his strength grows less? — Who, that had 
found himself thus an example of the many 

changes and chances of this mortal life ; 

when he considered himself now stripped and 
left destitute of so many valuable blessings 
which the moment before thy Providence had 
poured upon his head; — when he reflected 
upon this gay delightsome structure, in appear- 

160 



TROUBLES OF LIFE 

ance so strongly bmlt, so pleasingly surrounded 
with everything that could flatter his hopes 
and wishes, and beheld it all levelled with the 
ground in one moment, and the whole pros- 
pect vanish with it like the description of an 
enchantment ; — who I say that had seen and 
felt the shock of so sudden a revolution, would 
not have been ftimished with just and beauti- 
ful reflections upon the occasion, and said with 
Job in the words of the text, ** That man that 
is bom of a woman, is of few dajrs, and full of 
misery — that he cometh forth like a flower, 
and is cut down ; he fleeth also as a shadow, 
and continueth not** 

The words of the text are an epitome of the 
natural and moral vanity of man, and contain 
two distinct declarations concerning his state 
and condition in each respect 

First, That he is a creature of few days; and 
secondly. That those days are full of trouble. 

I shall make some reflections upon each of 
these in their order, and conclude with a prac- 
tical lesson from the whole. 

And first, that he is of few days. The 
comparison which Job makes use of. That 
man cometh forth like a flower, is extremely 
beautiful, and more to the purpose than the 

161 



SERMON X: 

most elaborate proo^ which in truth the sub- 
ject will not easily admit of; — the tartness 
of life being a point so generally complained of 
in all ages since the flood, and so universally 
felt and acknowledged by the whole species, as 
to require no evidence beyond a similitude; 
the intent of which is not so much to prove 
the fact, as to illustrate and place it in such a 
light as to strike us, and bring the impression 
home td ourselves in a more affectiEig manner. 

Man comes forth, says Job, like a flower, and 

is cut down ; he is sent into the world 

the &irest and noblest part of Gron's works, — 
fiuihioned after the image of his Creator with 
respect to reason and the great faculties of the 
mind ; he cometh forth glorious as the flower 
of the field ; as it surpasses the vegetable world 
in beauty, so does he the animal world in the 
glory and excellences of his nature. 

The one — if no untimely accident oppress 
it, soon arrives at the fiiU period of its per- 
fection, — is suffered to triumph for a few 
moments, and is plucked up by the roots in the 
very pride and gayest stage of its being : — or 
if it happens to escape the hands of violence, in 
a few days it necessarily sickens of itself and 
dies away. 

169 



TROUBLES OF LIFE 

Man likewise, though his progress is slower, 
and his duration something longer, yet the 
periods of his growth and declension are nearly 
the same both in the nature and manner of 
them. 

If he escapes the dangers which threaten his 
tender years, he is soon got into the full matu- 
rity and strength of life ; and if he is so fortu- 
nate as not to be hurried out of it then by 
accidents, by his own folly and intemperance — 
if he escapes these, he naturaUy decays of 
himself; — a period comes fSast upon him, be- 
yond which he was not made to last 

Like a flower or fruit which may be plucked 
up by force before the time of their maturity, 
yet cannot be made to outgrow the period 
when they are to fade and drop of themselves ; 
when that comes, the hand of nature then 
plucks them both off, and no art of the botanist 
can uphold the one, or skill of the physician 
preserve the other, beyond the periods to which 
their original frames and constitutions were 
made to extend. As Gk)D has appointed and 
determined the several growths and decajrs of 
the vegetable race, so he seems as evidently to 
have prescribed the same laws to man, as well 
as all living creatures, in the first rudiments of 

to 



SERMON X 

which there are contained the specific powers 
of their growth, duration, and extinction ; and 
when the evolutions of those animal powers are 
exhausted and run down, the creature expires 
and dies of itself, as ripe fruit falls from the tree, 
or a flower preserved beyond its bloom drops 
and perishes upon the stalk. 

Thus much for this comparison of Job's, 
which though it is very poetical, yet conveys 

a just idea of the thing referred to. 

" That he fleeth also as a shadow, and contin- 
ueth not," — is no less a faithful and fine 
representation of the shortness and vanity of 
human life, of which one cannot give a better 
explanation, than by referring to the original, 
from whence the picture was taken. — With 
how quick a succession, do days, months and 
years pass over our heads ? — how truly Uke a 
shadow that departeth do they flee away insen- 
sibly, and scarce leave an impression with us ? 

when we endeavour to call them back 

by reflection, and consider in what manner they 
have gone, how unable are the best of us to 
give a tolerable account ? — and were it not for 
some of the more remarkable stages which have 
distinguished a few periods of this rapid progress 
— we should look back upon it all as Nebu- 



I 
I 




TROUBLES OF LIFE 

chadnezzar did upon his dream when he awoke 

in the morning ; he was sensible many 

things had passed, and troubled him too, but 
had passed on so quickly, they had left no foot- 
steps behind, by which he could be enabled to 

trace them back. Melancholy account 

of the life of man ! which generally runs on in 
such a manner, as scarce to allow time to make 
reflections which way it has gone. 

How many of our first years slide by in the 
innocent sports of childhood, in which we are 
not able to make reflections upon them ! — how 
many more thoughtless years escape us in our 
youth, when we are unwilling to do it, and are 
so eager in the pursuit of pleasure, as to have 
no time to spare, to stop and consider them ! 

When graver and riper years come on, and 
we begin to think it time to reform and set up 
for men of sense and conduct, then the business 
and perplexing interests of this world, and the 
endless plotting and contriving how to make 
the most of it, do so wholly employ us, that 
we are poo busy to make reflections upon so 
unprofitable a subject — As families and chil- 
dren increase, so do our affections, and with 
them are multiplied our cares and toils for their 
preservation and establishment; — all which 

1«5 



3 






1; 



■m vks «c faKOo- cM^ler lis di^i k 

m, s Oct ^niiw ■ tkr s^gK O Gool 



at fife IS aD tlot k measKcd oat tDBMafiam 
that ctemi^ Ibr wliieli hekcicated, kovdoes 
hk diart span wiBii to n ottki g an tfcr coni- 
ponHMi! Tb troe, the gre a tes t partial of 
tinie wiD do the sune iriien oonnnd wtt 



TROUBLES OF LIFE 

what is to come; and therefore so short and 
transitory a one, as threescore years and ten, 
beyond which all is declared to be labour and 
sorrow, may the easier be allowed: and yet 
how uncertain are we of that portion, short 
as it is ! Do not ten thousand accidents break 
off the slender thread of human life, long be- 
fore it can be drawn out to that extent? — 
The new-born babe falls down an easy prey, 
and moulders back again into dust, like a 
tender blossom put forth in an untimely hour 

The hopeful youth in the very pride and 

beauty of his life is cut off; some cruel dis- 
temper or unthought-of accident lays him 
prostrate upon the earth, to pursue Job's 
comparison, like a blooming flower smit and 

shrivelled up with a malignant blast In 

this stage of life chances multiply upon us, — 
the seeds of disordo- are sown by intemper- 
ance or neglect, — infectious distempers are 
more easily contracted ; when contracted they 
rage with greater violence, and the success in 
many cases is more doubtful, insomuch that 
they who have exercised themselves in com- 
putations of this kind tell us, ''That one- 
half of the whole species, which are bom 
into the world, go out of it again, and are all 



SERMON X 

dead in so short a space as the first seventeen 
years.** 

These reflections may be sufficient to illus- 
trate the first part of Job's declaration, '* 2%at 
man is of few days^ LiCt us examine the 
truth of the other, and see whether he is not 
likewise fM of trovble. 

And here we must not take our account 
from the flattering outside of things, whidb 
are generally set ofi^ with a glittering appear- 
ance enough especially in what is called 

hig^ Ufe. Nor can we safely trust the 

evidence of some of the more merry and 
thoughtless amongst us, who are so set upon 
the enjoyment of life as seldom to reflect on 
the troubles of it; — or who, perhaps because 
they are not yet come to this portion of their 
inSritance, i^gine it is not tiieir common 
lot — Nor lastly, are we to form an idea of 
it, from the delusive stories of a few of the 
most prosperous passengers, who have fortu- 
nately sailed through and escaped the roughef 
toils and distresses. But we are to take our 
accoimt from a close survey of human life, and 
the real face of things, stript of everything 
that can palliate or gild it over. We must 
hear the general complaint of all ages, and read 

108 



TROUBLES OF LIFE 

the histories of mankind. If we look into 
them, and examine them to the bottom, wliat 
do they contain but the history of sad and 
uncomfortable passages, which a good-natured 
man cannot read but with oppression of 
spirits ? — Consider the dreadful succession of 
wars in one part or other of the earth, perpetu- 
ated from one century to another with so Uttle 
intennission, that mankind have scarce had 
time to breathe from them, since ambition 
first came into the world ; consider the horrid 
effects of them in all tliose barbarous devasta- 
tions we read of, where whole nations have 
been put to the sword, or have been driven 
out to nakedness and famine to make room 

for new-comers. Consider how great a 

part of our species, in all ages down to this, 
have been trod under the feet of cruel and 
capricious tyrants, who would neither hear 

their cries, nor pity their distresses 

Consider slavery, — what it is, — how bitter 
a draught, and how many miUions have been 
made to drink it ; — which if it can poison all 
earthly happiness when exercised barely upon 
our bodies, what must it be, when it compre- 
—iiends both the slavery of body and mind ? — 
|i|To conceive this, look into the history of the 




SEBMON X 

RomUih Chnrch and her tyrants (or Esdier" 
executumers), who sewn to have taken pikiMUWi 
in the pangs and ccmvulsions <rf Hmc fidlmr- 
creatures. — Examine the inqoimtioD, hear tiw 
melancholy notes sounded in ereiy odL— 
Ctmsider the anguish of mock liials, and tiw 
requisite twtures consequent theretqwn, meiv 
dlessly inflicted upcm tihe un&rtunat^ i 
the radked and weaiy soul has so often ■% 
to take its leav^ — but cruelly not suflftred to 
depart — Consider how many of these ht^piew 
wretches have been hauled from thcnoe in aB 
peru)ds of this tyrannic usurpation, to undergo 
the massacres and flames to ^ritich a fidse and 
a bloody leligioa has condemned them. 

If this sad history and detail of the more 
public causes of tiie miseries of man are not 
sufficient, let us behold him in another light 
with respect to the more private causes of 
them, and see whether he is not full of trouble 
likewise there, and almost bom to it as natu- 
rally as the sparks fly upwards. If we con- 
sider man as a creature faR of wants and 
necessities (whether real or imaginary), which 
he is not able to supply of himself what a 
train of disappointments, vexations and de- 
pendraicies are to be seen, issuing from theace 



TROUBLES OF LIFE 

to perplex and make his being uneasy ! 

How many jostlings and hard struggles do we 
undergo, in making our way in the world I — ■ 

How barbarously held back I How often 

and basely overthrown, in aiming only at get- 
ting bread I — How many of us never attain 

it at least not comfortably, but from 

various and unknown causes — eat it all our 
lives long in bitterness I 

If we shift the scene, and look upwards, 
towards those whose situation in life seems to 
place them above the sorrows of this kind, yet 
where are they exempt from others ? Do not 
all ranks and conditions of men meet with sad 
accidents and numberless calamities in other 
respects, which often make them go heavily all 
their lives long ? 

How many fall into chronical infirmities, 
which render both their days and nights rest- 
less and insupportable ? How many of 

the highest rank are torn up with ambition, or 
soured with disappointments ; and how many 
more, from a thousand secret causes of dis- 
quiet, pine away in silence, and owe their 

deaths to sorrow and dejection of heart ? 

If we cast our eyes upon the lowest class and 
condition of life, — the scene is more melan* 



ML'IJ 



ON X 

cfaoly stilL — MilBoiMi of our tdSaw-cnatam^ 
bom to noinhaitapce hiA yu^aly andtpoohift 
forced fay the necessity of liieirlotB to dnid^ 
ety and painful enqployments^ and hard aefc 
with that too, to get enough to keqp them- 

sdves and families alive. So fhat i^on 

the whole, when we haye examined tibe tme 
state and ccmditiim of human fifi^ and have 
made some allowances for a few fi^gacioas^ de- 
ceitful pleasures, there is scaice anything to be 
feund which ccmtradicts Job's desaqptku of it 
— Whichever way we look afaroad, we see 
some legible characters of ^diat Gron first de- 
nounced against us, ^^ That in soirow we should 
eat our bread, till we return to the ground 
from whence we were taken. ** * 

But some one will say. Why are we thua to 
be put out of love with human life ? To what 
purpose is it to expose the dark sides of it to 
us, or enlarge upon the infirmities which are 
natural, and consequently out of our power to 
redress? 

I answer, that the subject is neverth^ess of 
great importance, since it is necessary every 
creature should understand his present state 

* N. B. Most of these reflections upon the miseries of 
life are taken from WooUaston. 

179 



TROUBLES OF LIFE 

and condition, to put him in mind of behaving 
suitably to it. — Does not an impartial survey 
of man — the holding up of this glass to show 
him his defects and natural infirmities, natu- 
rally tend to cure his pride, and clothe him 
with humility, which is a dress that best be- 
comes a short-lived and a wretched creature ? — 
Does not the consideration of the shortness of 
our life convince us of the wisdom of dedicat- 
ing so small a portion to the great purposes of 
eternity? 

Lastly, When we reflect that this span of 
life, short as it is, is chequered with so many 
troubles, that there is nothing in this world 
springs up, or can be enjoyed without a mix- 
ture of sorrow, how insensibly does it incline 
us to turn our eyes and affections fix)m so 
gloomy a prospect, and fix them upon that 
happier country, where afflictions cannot fol- 
low us, and where GrOD will wipe away all 
tears fix)m ofi^ our faces for ever and ever I 
Amen. 



ITS 



SERMON XI 

EVIL-SPEAKING 



If any man among yon aeemeth to be ieligioiia» and tridleth not 
hia tongne, bat deoeiTeth hia own haait| that man'a raligion ia 
Tain. — Jaiob i. M. 

OF the many duties owing both to God 
and our neighbour, there are scarce any 
men so bad, as not to acquit themselves 
of some, and few so good, I fear, as to practise 
alL 

Every man seems willing enou^ to com- 
pound the matter, and adopt so much of the 
system, as will least interfere with his principal 
and ruling passion, and for those parts which 
would occasion a more troublesome opposition, 
to consider them as hard sayings, and so leave 
them for those to practise, whose natural 
tempers are better suited to the struggle. So 
that a man should be covetous, oppressive, re- 
vengeful, neither a lover of truth, nor common 
honesty, and yet at the same time shall be very 

176 



SERMON XI 

idiguNiSy and so suiclifiedt as not oooe to li^ 
paying his morning and evening sacrifice to 
God So, cm the other hand, a man shall live 
without God in the world, have neither any 
great aoise of rdigicm, nor indeed pretend to 
have any, and yet be of nicest honour, con- 
sdentiously just and £Bdr in all his deaKngfc 
And here it is that men generally betray them- 
selves, deceiving, as the apostle says, their own 
hearts ; of which the instances are so various^ 
in <me degree or other, throughout human life^ 
that one mi^t safely say, the bulk of mankind 
live in such a contradiction to themselves, that 
there is no character so hard to be met with as 
cme, which, upon a critical eyamination, will 
appear altogether uniform, and in eveiy point 
consistent with itsel£ 

If such a contrast was only observable in the 
different stages of a man's life, it would cease 
to be either a matter of wonder or of just re- 
proach. Age, experience, and much reflection, 
may naturally enough be supposed to alter a 
man's sense of things, and so entirely to trans- 
form him, that, not only in outward appear- 
ances, but in the very cast and turn of his 
mind, he may be as unlike and difierent firom 
the man he was twenty or thirty years ago, as 

176 



EVIL-SPEAKING 

he ever was from anything of his own species. 
This. I say, is naturally to be accounted for, 
and in some cases might be praiseworthy too ; 
but the observation is to be made of men in 
the same period of their lives, that, in the same 
day, sometimes in the very same action, they 
are utterly inconsistent and irreconcilable with 

themselves. Look at a man in one light, 

and he shall seem wise, penetrating, discreet, 
and brave : behold him in another point of 
view, and you see a creature all over folly and 
indiscretion, weak and timorous, as cowardice 
and indiscretion can make him. A man shall 
appear gentle, courteous, and benevolent to all 
mankind ; follow him into his own house, may 
be you see a tyrant, morose and savage to all 
whose happiness depends upon his kindness. 
A third in his general behaviour is found to be 
generous, disinterested, humane, and friendly, 
— hear but the sad story of the friendless 
orphans, too credulously trusting all their little 
substance into his hands, and he shall appear 
more sordid, more pitiless and unjust, than the 
injured themselves have bitterness to paint him. 
Another shall be charitable to the poor, un- 
charitable in his censures and opinions of all 
the rest of the world besides ; temperate in his 



SKRMOK XI 

ij^etxtes, intempeTste in his tongue; shall 
have too mudi oonadenoe and religion to cheat 
llie man iriu> tmsts him* and, perhaps, as £ar as 
tiw business of debtor and creditor extends, 
diall be just and scnj^Kdous to the uttermost^ 
mite; yet, in matten of ftdlas gRstoonoat^ 
where he is to have the handlii^ of the {m^s 
reputatami and good name, — the denot; the 
tenderest propaty a man has»heinQ do bhn 
ineparable damage, and rob him them wiUioat 
measure or pity. 

And this seems to be that partkahr pioee 
of inctmastency and contradictka "iriuoh the 
text is levelled at, in which the words aeon m> 
pointed, as if St. James had known nun 
flagrant instances of this land of dehiaoB, dm 
what had &Uea under the observstioii ot aaj 
of the rest of the apostles; he being more 
remarkably vehement and copious up(m that 
subject than any other. 

Doubtless, some of his converts had been 
notoriously wicked and licentious in this re- 
morseless practice of defamation and evil- 
speaking. Perhaps the holy man, thou^ 
spotless as an angel (for no character is too 
sacred for calunmy to blacken), had grievously 
suffered himself^ and, as his blessed 



EVIL-SPEAKING 

foretold him, had been crueUy reviled, and evil 
spoken o£ 

All his labours in the gospel. His unaffected 
and perpetual soUcitude for the preservation 
of his flock, his watchings and fastings, his 
poverty, his natural simpUcity and innocence 
of life, all perhaps were not enough to defend 
him from this unruly weapon, so fuU of deadly 
poison. And what in all likelihood might 
move his sorrow and indignation more, some 
who seemed the most devout and zealous of 
all his converts, were the most merciless and 
uncharitable in that respect: Having a form 
of godliness, full of bitter envyings and strife. 

With such it is that he expostulates so largely 
in the third chapter of his epistle : and there is 
something in his vivacity tempered with such 
affection and concern, as well suited the char- 
acter of an inspired man. My brethren, says 
the apostle, these things ought not to be. — 
The wisdom that is from above is pure, peace- 
able, gentle, full of mercy, without partiality, 
without hypocrisy. The wisdom from above. 
— thatheavenly religion which I have preached 
to you, is pure, alike and consistent with itself 
t Author, 'tis uni- 



. parts; 



i great I 



versally kind and benevolent in all cases and 




SERMON XI 



drcumstances. Itsflrstglad tidings, were peace 
uptm earth, goodwSl towards men ; its chief 
camOHSbme, its most distinguishing character 
is love, that kind ^inciple which brou^t it 
down, in the pure exercise of which consists 
the chief enjojanent of heaven from whence it 
came. But this ^actice, my brethren, cometh 
not ftcnn above, but it is earthly, sensual, devil- 
ish, full of confiision and every evil work. R&<i 
fleet then a moment ; can a fountain send forth,, 
at the same place, sweet water and bitter ? Can 
the fig-tree, mjr brethren, bear ohve-herries 
either a vine, figs! liay your haods upon 
your hearts, and let joiir rmiirirnrrn npralr 
Oug^t not the same just prindplk^ iriiidh 
restrains you fivm cruelty and wrong m one 
case, equally to withhold ]ron from it in 
another ? — Should not charity and goodwill, 
like the principle of life, circulating through 
the smallest vessels in every member, ou^t it 
not to operate as regularly upon you, through- 
out, as well upon your words as upon your 
actions? 

If a man is wise and endued with knowledge, 
let him show it, out of a good conversation, 

with meekness of wisdonL But if any 

man amongst you seemeth to be religious 



It 



EVIL-SPEAKING 

seemeth to be, for truly religious 

he cannot be, — and bridleth not his tongue, 
but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion 

is vain. This is the fiill force of St 

James's reasoning, upon which I have dwelt 
the more, it being the foundation, upon which 
is grounded this clear decision of the matter 
left us in the text. In which the apostle seems 
to have set the two characters of a saint and a 
slanderer at such variance, that one would 
have thought they could never have had a 
heart to have met together again. But there 
are no alliances too strange for this world. 

How many may we observe every day, 

even of the gentler sex, as well as our own, 
who, without conviction of doing much wrong, 
in the midst of a full career of calunmy and 
defSamation, rise up pimctual at the stated 
hour of prayer, leave the cruel story half un- 
told till they return, — go, — and kneel down 
before the Throne of Heaven, thank God that 
he had not made them like others, and that his 
Holy Spirit had enabled them to perform the 
duties of the day, in so christian and conscien- 
tious a manner ? 

This delusive itch for slander, too common 
in all ranks of people, whether to gratify 

181 



SERMON XI 



■n 



a little ungencKHis resentment ; — whether 
oftener out of a principle of levelling, &om a 
iiBiTOwness and porerl^ of soul, ever impatient 
of merit and superiority in others ; whether 
from a mean ambiticKi or the insatiate lust of 
being witty (a talent in which ill-nature and 
malice are no ingredients), ot lastly* ^ 
firoma natural cruelty of dispositiaot ■ 
from all views and ctHimderstvms of adf : to 
■wbicb one, or whether to all jointly, we are ii^ 
debbed for this contagious mala^, thus modi 
is certain, fhnn Tdutever seeds it springs^ tbe 
growth and pn^press of it are as destzoctave to^ 
as they are unbecoming a civilised pec^ile. To 
pass a hard and ill-natured reflectioD, iqpon an 
ondeagning acticm ; to invent, or, ii^di k 
equally bad, to propagate a vezatioiis leport 
without colour and grounds; to plunder an 
innocent man of his character and good name, a 
jewel which, perhaps, he has starved himself to 
purchase, and probably would hazard his life 
to secure ; to rob him at the same time of his 
happiness and peace of mind, perhaps his 
bread, — the bread, may be, of a virtuous 
family : and all this, as Solomon says of the 
madman, who casteth firebrands, arrows and 
death, and saith, Am I not in sport ? all this 



EVIL-SPEAKING 

out of wantonness, and oftener from worse 
motives ; the whole appears such a complica- 
tion of badness, as requires no words or warmth 
of fancy to aggravate. Pride, treachery, envy, 
hypocrisy, malice, cruelty, and self-love, may 
have been said, in one shape or other, to have 
occasioned all the frauds and mischiefs that 
ever happened in the world ; but the chances 
against a coincidence of them all in one person 
are so many, that one would have supposed 
the character of a common slanderer as rare 
and difficult a production in nature as that of 
a great genius, which seldom happens above 
once in an age. 

But whatever was the case, when St. James 
wrote his epistle, we have been very success- 
ful in later days, and we have found out the 
art, by a proper management of light and 
shade, to compoimd all these vices together, 
so as to give body and strength to the whole, 
whilst no one but a discerning artist is able to 
discover the labours that join in finishing the 

picture. And, indeed, like many other 

bad originals in the world, — it stands in need 
of all the disguise it has. — For who could be 
enamoured of a character, made up of so loath- 
some a compound, could they behold it 

to 




SERMON XI 



-in its crooked and deformed shape, 
I ■ - .TOth all its natural and detested infirm- 
ities laid open to public view ? 

And, therefin%, it were to be wished, that 
me would do in this malignant case of the 
mind, — "wbat is generally done for the public 
good, in the more malignant and epidemical 
cases of the body, — that is, — when they are 
toaoA infectious, — to write a history of the 
distemper, — and ascertain all the symptoms 
of the malady, so that every one might know, 
wliom he mig^t venture to go near, with toler- 
able safety to himself. — But alas I the symp- 
toms of this appear in so many strange and 
contradictory shapes, and vary so wonderfully 
with the temper and habit of the patient, that 
they are not to be classed, — nor reduced to 
any one regular system. 

Ten thousand are the vehicles in wliich this 
deadly poison is prepared and communicated 
to the world, — and, by some artfiil hands, 'tis 
done by so subtle and nice an infusion, that it 
is not to he tasted or discovered, but by its 
effects. 

How frequently is the honesty and integrity 
of a man disposed of by a smile or a shrug ? — 
How many good and generous actions have 



EVIL-SPEAKING 

been sunk into oblivion by a distrustful look, 
— or stamped with the imputation of proceed- 
ing from bad motives, by a mysterious and sea- 
sonable whisper ? 

Look into companies of those whose gentle 

natures should disarm them, we shall 

find no better account. How large a 

portion of chastity is sent out of the world by 

distant hints, nodded away, and cruelly 

winked into suspicion, by the envy of those 
who are past all temptation of it themselves ? 

How often does the reputation of a 

helpless creature bleed by report — which the 
party, who is at the pains to propagate it, 
beholds with much pity and fellow-feeling, 

that she is heartily sorry for it, — hopes 

in God it is not true ; however, as Arch- 
bishop Tillotson wittily observes upon it, is re- 
solved, in the meantime, to give the report her 
pass, that at least it may have fair play to 
take its fortune in the world, — to be believed 
or not, according to the charity of those, into 
whose hands it shall happen to fall. 

So fruitful is this vice in u \'ttriety of experi- 
ments, to satiate as well as disguise itself. 
But if tliese smoother weapons cut so sore, — 
what shall we say of open and unblushing 




SERMON XI 



il — sulgected to no caution, tied 

down to no lestraints ? ^ If the one, like an 
anow shot in the dark, does nevertheless so 
much secret mischief, — this, like the pesti- 
lence which rageth at noonday, sweeps all be- 
ftffe it, levelling without distinction the good 
and the bad; a thousand fall beside it, and 

ten thousand on its right hand, they fell 

— so rent and torn in this tender part of 
them* so unmercifully butchered, as sometimes 

never to recover either the wounds, or 

the MigiiUlt of heart, which they have 



■^ 



But there is nothing so bad which will 
admit of stmiething to be said in its defence. 

And here it may be asked, — Whether the 
inccmvaiiences and ill effects which the world 
feels from the hcentiousness of this practice 

are not sufficiently counterbalanced by the 

influence it has on men's lives and conduct? 

That if there was no evil-speaking in 

the world, thousands would be encouraged 
to do ill, — and woiild rush into many inde- 
corums, like a horse into the battle, were 

they sure to escape the tongues of men. 

That if we take a general view of the world, 
— we shaU find that a great deal of virtue — 



EVIL-SPEAKING 

at least of the outward appearance of it, — is 
not so much for any fixed principle, as the 
terror of what the world will say, — and the 
liberty it will take upon the occasions we shall 
give. 

That, if we descend to particulars, numbers 
are every day taking more pains to be well 
spoken of, — than would actually enable them 
to live so as to deserve it. 

That there are many of both sexes, who can 
support life weU enough, without honour and 
chastity, — who, without reputation (which is 
but the opinion which the world has of the 
matter), would hide their heads in shame, and 
sink down in utter despair of happiness. — 
No doubt the tongue is a weapon, which does 
chastise many indecorums, which the laws of 
men will not reach, — and keeps many in awe 
— whom conscience will not, — and where the 
case is indisputably flagrant, — the speaking 
of it in such words as it deserves, — scarce 
comes within the prohibition. — In many cases, 
'tis hard to express ourselves so as to fix a 

distinction betwixt opposite characters, 

and sometimes it may be as much a debt we 
owe to virtue, and as great a piece of justice,. 
to expose a vicious character, and paint it in 

187 



SERMON XI 

proper colours, as it is to speak well 

the deserving, and describe its particular 

rtues. And, indeed, when we inflict 

is punishment upon the bad, merely out 
principle, and without indulgence to any 
Ivate passion of our own, — 'tis a case which 
ppens so seldom, that one might venture to 
e&cept it. 

However, to those, who in this objection 
are really concerned for the cause of virtue, I 
not help recommending what would much 
tiore effectually serve her interest, and be s 
surer token of their zeal and attachment to 
her : And that is, — in all such plain instances 
where it seems to be duty, to fix a distincticHi 
betwixt the good and the bad, — to let their 
actions speak it instead of their words, or at 
least to let them both speak one language; 
We all of us talk so loud against vicious char- 
acters, and are so unanimous in our cry against 
them — that an inexperienced man who only 
trusted his ears, would imagine the whole 
world was in an uproar about it, and that 
mankind were all associating together, to hunt 

vice utterly out of the world, Shift the 

scene, and let him behold the reception 

which vice meets with, — he will see the coo- 



EVIL-SPEAKING 

duct and behaviour of the world towards it, so 
opposite to their declarations, — he will find all 
he heard, so contradicted by what he saw, — 
as to leave him in doubt which of his senses he 
is to trust, — or in which of the two cases, 
mankind were really in earnest Was there 
virtue enough in the world to make a general 

stand against this contradiction, — that is, 

was every one who deserved to be ill spoken 
of — sure to be ill looked upon too; — was it 
a certain consequence of the loss of a man's 
character, — to lose his friends, — to lose the 
advantages of his birth and fortune, — and 
thenceforth be universally shunned, universally 
slighted 

Was no quality a shelter against the inde- 
corums of the other sex, but was every woman 
without distinction, who had justly for- 
feited her reputation, — from that moment was 
she sure to forfeit likewise all claim to civility 
and respect — 

Or in a word, could it be established as a 

law in our ceremonial, that wherever 

characters in either sex were become notorious, 
— it should be deemed infamous, either to pay 
or receive a visit from them, and the door were 
to be shut against them in all public places, tiU 

189 



SERMON XI 

they had satisfied the world by giving testi- 
mony of a better. A few such plain and 

honest maxims faithfiilly put in practice, 

"Would force us upon some degree of reforma- 
tion. Till this is done, — it avails little that 
we have no mercy upon them with our tongues, 
since they escape without feeling any otha* 
inconvenience. 

We all cry out that the world is corrupt, — 
and I fear too justly ; — but we never reflect, 
■what we have to thank for it, and that our 
open countenance of ^nce, which gives the lie to 
our private censures of it, is its chief protection 

and encouragement. To those however 

who still beheve that evil-speaking is some 
terror to evil-doers, one may answer, as a 
great man has done upon the occasion, — 
That after all our exhortations against it, — 
'tis not to be fisared, but that there vrill be 
evil-speaking enough left in the w<n'ld to 
chastise the guilty, — and we may safely trust 
them to an ill-natured world, that there will 
be no fiulure of justice upon this score. — The 
passions of men are {Hetty severe executioners, 
and to them let us leave this ungrateful task. 
— and rather ourselves endeavour to cultivate 
that more friendly one. recommoided by the 



EVIL-SPEAKING 

aposUe, — of letting aU bitterness, and nmrth, 
and clamour, and evil-speaking, be put away 

from us, of being kind to one another, 

tender-hearted, forgiving one another, 

even as GrOD for Christ's sake forgave us. 
Amen, 



191 



SERMON XII 

JOSEPH'S HISTORY CONSIDERED. — FORGIVE. 

NESS OF INJURIES 

And when Joseph's brethren saw that their £ither was dead* 
thej said, Joseph will peradyentore hate ns, and will certainly 
requite ns all the eyils which we did nnto him. — Gunus i. 16. 

THERE are few instances of the exercise 
of particular virtues which seem harder 
to attain to, or which appear more ami- 
able and engaging in themselves, than those 
of moderation and the forgiveness of injuries ; 
and, when the temptations against them hap- 
pen to be heightened by the bitterness of a 
provocation on the one hand, and the fairness 
of an opportunity to retaliate on the other, the 
instances then are truly great and heroic The 
words of the text, which are the consultation 
of the sons of Jacob amongst themselves upon 
their father Israel's death, when, because it was 
in Joseph's power to revenge the deadly injury 
they had formerly done him, they concluded 
in course, that it was in his intention, — will 

19S 




SBRHON XII 



lead us to a bnutifiil example of this kind in 
the ehnnicter aod bdixtiour of Joseph conse- 
quent thereupoD ; and as it seems a perfect 
and very engagmg pattern of forbearance, it 
may not be improper to make it serve for the 
ground-wcB'k of a discourse upon that subject 

The irikole transaction, from the first 

occB8i<Hi given fay Joseph in his youth, to this 
last ot his remisn<ni, at the conclusion of his 
lifi^ may be said to be a masterpiece of history. 
lliere is not ooly in the manner throughout, 
siudi a h^iy tlKM^ uncommon mixture of 
aimplidty and grandeur, which is a double 
character 90 hard to be united, that it is seldom 
to be met vith in compositions merely human ; 

but it is likewise related with the 

greatest variety of tender and affecting circum- 
stances, which would afford matter for reflec- 
tions useful for the conduct of almost every 

part and stage of a man's life. But as the 

words of the text, as well as the intention and 
compass of this discourse, particularly confine 
me to speak only to one point, namely the 
forgiveness of injuries, it will be proper only 
to consider such circumstances of the story, as 
will place this instance of it in its just li^t, 
and then proceed to make a more general uae 



JOSEPH'S HISTORY 

of the great example of moderation and for- 
bearance, which it sets before us. 

It seems strange at first sight, that, after the 
sons of Jacob had fallen into Joseph's power, 
when they were forced by the soreness of the 
famine to go down into Egypt to buy com, 
and had found him too good a man even to ex- 
postulate with them for an injury, which he 
seemed then to have digested, and piously to 
have resolved into the overruling providence 
of God, for the preservation of much people, 
how they could ever after question the upright- 
ness of his intentions, or entertain the least 
suspicion that his reconciliation was dissembled. 
Would one have imagined, that the man who 
had discovered such a goodness of soul, that he 
sought where to weep, because he could not 
bear the struggles of a coimterfeited harsh- 
ness, could ever be suspected afterwards of in- 
tending a real one ; — - and that he only waited 
till their father Israel's death to requite them 
all the e\"il which they had done unto him ? 
What still adds to this difficulty is, that his 
affectionate manner in making himself known 

to them : his goodness in forbearing not 

only to reproach them for the injury they had 
formerly done him, but extenuating and excua- 



SERMON XII 

ing the fault to themselves, his comforting and 
speaking kindly to them, and seconding all 
with the tenderest marks of an undisguised 
forgiveness, in falling upon their necks and 
weeping aloud, that all the house of Pharaoh 

heard him ; that moreover this behaWour 

of Joseph could not appear to them, to be the 
effect of any warm and sudden transport, which 
might as suddenly ^ve way to other reflections, 
but that it evidently sprung irom a settled 
principle of micommon generosity in his nature, 
which was above the temptation of making 
use of an opportunity for revenge, which the 
course of God's pro\'idence had put into His 
hands for better purposes ; and what might 
still seem to confirm this, was the evidence of 
his actions to them afterwards, in bringing 
them and all their household up out of Canaan, 
and placing them near him in the Iflnd of 
Goschen, the richest part of Egypt, where they 
had had so many years' experience of his love 
and kindness. And yet it is plain that all this 
did not clear his motive from suspicion, or at 
least themselves of some apprehensions of a 
change in his conduct towards them. And 
was it not that the whole transaction was 
vrittra under the direction of the Spirit of 



JOSEPH'S HISTORY 

truth, and that other historians concur m 
doing justice to Joseph's character, and speak 
of him as a compassionate and mercifiil man, 
one would be apt, you will say, to imagine 
here, that Moses might possibly have omitted 
some circumstances of Joseph's behaviour, 
which had alarmed his brethren, betwixt the 
time of his first reconciliation and that of their 

fSftther's deatL For they could not be 

suspicious of his intentions without some cause 

and fear where no fear was. But does 

not a guilty conscience often do so; and 
though it has the grounds, yet wants the 
power to think itself safe ? 

And could we look into the hearts of those 
who know they deserve ill, we should find 
many an instance, where a kindness fix>m an 
injured hand, where there was least reason to 
expect one, has struck deeper and touched the 
heart with a degree of remorse and concern, 
which perhaps no severity or resentment could 
have reached. This reflection will in some 
measure help to explain this difficulty, which 
occurs in the story. For it is observable, that 
when the injury they had done their brother was 
first conmiitted, and the fact was fi-esh upon 
their minds, and most likely to have fiUed them 




SERMON XII 



widi a sense <rf guilt, we find no acknowledg- 
ment or complaint to one another of such a 
load, as one might imagine it had laid upon 
them; and from that event, through a long 
coinse of yeais, to the time they had gone down 
to ^ypt, we read not once of any sorrow or 
compmiction <tf heart, which they had felt dur- 
ing all that time» for what they had done. They 
had aitfolly imposed upon their parent — (and 
as men are ingenious casuists in their own aifairs) 
they had, probably, as artfully imposed upon 
their own ccmsciences ; — and, possibly, bad 
never impartially reflected upou the action, or 
considered it in its just light, till the many acts 
of thdr brother's love and kindness had brought 
it befixre them, with all the circumstances of 
aggravation which his behaviour would nature 

ally give it They then began maturely 

to consider what they had done, that 

they had at first undeservedly hated him in his 
childhood for that, which if it was a ground of 
complaint, ought rather to have been diarged 
upon the indiscretion of the parent than con- 
sidered as a fault in him. That upon a more 
just examination and a better knowledge of 
their brother, they had wanted even that pre- 
tence. It was not a blind partiality vrtiidi 



JOSEPH'S HISTORY 

seemed first to have directed their father's 
affection to him — though then they thought 

so, for doubtless so much goodness and 

benevolence as shone forth in his nature, now 
that he was a man, could not He all of it so 
deep concealed in his youth, but the sagacity 
of a parent's eye would discover it, and that in 
course their enmity towards him was founded 
upon that which ought to have won their 

esteem, That if he had incautiously 

added envy to their ill-will in reporting his 
dreams, which presaged his fixture greatness, it 
was but the indiscretion of a youth unpractised 
in the world, who had not yet found out the 
art of dissembling his hopes and expectations, 
and was scarce arrived at an age to compre- 
hend there was such a thing in the world as 

envy and ambition ; that if such offences 

in a brother, so fairly carried their own excuses 
with them, what could they say for themselves, 
when they considered it was for this they had 
almost unanimously conspired to rob him of 

his life ; and though they were happily 

restrained from shedding his blood upon Reu- 
ben's remonstrance, that they had nevertheless 
all the guilt of the intention to answer for. 
That whatever motive it was that then stayed 




SERMON Xir 

their hands, their consciences told them, it 
could not be a good one, since they had 
changed the sentence for one no less cruel in 
itself, and what to an ingenuous nature wis 

worse than death, to be sold for a slave 

The one was common to all, — the other only 
to the unfortunate. That it was not compas- 
sion which then took place, for had there been 
any way open to that, his tears and entreaties 
must have found it, when they saw the anguish 
of his soul, when he besought, and they would 

not hear. That if aught still could 

heighten the remorse of banishing a youth 
without provocation, for ever from his country, 
and the protection of his parent, to be exposed 
naked to the buffetings of the world, and the 
rough hand of some merciless master, they 
would find it in this reflection, " That the many 
afflictions and hardships, which they might 
naturally have expected would overtake the 
lad, consequent upon this action, had actual^ 
fallen upon him." 

That besides the anguish of suspected vir- 
tue, he had felt that of a prison, where he 
had long lain neglected in a friendless condi- 
tion ; and where the affliction of it was ren- 
dered still sharper by the daily expectation <4 



JOSEPH'S HISTORY 

being remembered by Pharaoh's chief butler, 
and the disappointment of finding himself un- 
gratefully forgotten. And though Moses 

teUs us, that he found fa\'oar in the sight of 
the keeper of the prison, yet the Psalmist ac- 
quaints us that his sufferings were still griev- 
ous ; That his feet were hurt with fetters, and 
the iron entered even into his soul. And no 
doubt, his brethren thought the sense of their 
iiyury must have entered at the same time, 
and was then riveted and fixed in his mind for 



It is natural to imagine they argued and 
re6ected in this manner, and there seems no 
necessity of seeking for the reason of their 
uneasiness and distrust in Joseph's conduct, or 
any other external cause, since the inward 
workings of their own minds will easily ac- 
count for the evil they apprehended. A 

series of benefits and kindnesses from the man 
tbey had injured, gradually heightened the 
idea of their own guilt, till at length they 
could not conceive, how the trespass could be 

foi^ven them ; it appeared with such fresh 

circumstances of aggravation, that though they 
were convinced his resentment slept, yet they 
thought it only slept, and was likely some time 




SERMON XII 



or other to awake, and most probably then. 
that their father was dead, when the considera- 
timi of involving him in his revenge had ceased, 
and aU the duty and compassion he owed to 
the gn,y hairs and happiness of a parent was 
discharged and buried with him. 

This they express in the consultation held 
amongst themselves in the words of the text: 
and in the following verse we find them ac- 
cordingly sending to him to deprecate the eril 
they dreaded ; and either because they thought 
tbdr &ther's name more powerful than their 
own* in this appUcation — or rather, that they 
mi^t not commit a fresh injury in seeming to 
suspect his sincerity, they pretend their fatlier's 
direction ; for we read they sent messengers 
unto Joseph, saying. Thy father did command 
bef(n*e he died, — so shall ye say mito Joseph, 
— " Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of 
thy brethren and their sin ; for they flid unto 
thee evil : and now, we pray thee, forgive the 
trespass of the servants of the Goo of thy 
father." The address was not without art, and 
was conceived in such words as seemed to sug- 
gest an argument in their &vour, — as if it 
would not become him, who was but a ftUow- 
servant of their father's GrOD, to harbour re- 



JOSEPH'S HISTORY 

venge, or use the power their father's God had 
given him against his children. Nor was there 
a reason in anything, but the fears of a guilty 
conscience to apprehend it, as appears from 
the reception the address met, which was such 
as bespoke an uncommon goodness of nature ; 

for when they thus spake unto him, the 

historian says, he wept Sympathy, for the 
sorrow and distress of so many sons of his 
father, now all in his power, — pain at so open 
and ingenuous a confession of their guilt, — 
concern and pity for the long punishment they 
must have endured by so stubborn a remorse, 
which so many years seemed not to have 
diminished. The affecting idea of their con- 
dition, which had seemed to reduce them to 
the necessity of holding up their hands for 
mercy, when they had lost their protector, — 
so many tender passions struggling together at 
once overcame him ; — he burst into tears, 
which spoke what no language could attempt. 
It will be needless therefore to enlarge any 
further upon this incident, which furnishes us 
with so beautiful a picture of a compassionate 
and forgiving temper, that I think no words 
can heighten it ; — but rather let us endeavour 
to find out by what helps and reasoning, the 



SERMON XII 

patriarch might be supposed to attain to so 
exalted and engaging a virtue. Perhaps you 
will say, '' That one so thoroughly convinced, 
as Joseph seemed to be, of the overruling provi- 
dence of God, which so evidently makes use of 
the malice and passions of men, and turns them 
as instruments in his hands to work his own 
righteousness and bring about his eternal de- 
crees, — and of which his own history was so 
plain an instance, could not have far to seek 
for an argument to forgiveness, or feel much 
struggle in stifling an inclination against it" 

But let any man lay his hand upon his 

heart and say, how often, in instances where 
anger and revenge had seized him, has this 
doctrine come in to his aid ? — In the bitter- 
ness of an affront, how often has it calmed his 
passions, and checked the fury of his resent- 
ment ? — True and universally believed as the 
doctrine is amongst us, it seldom does this 
service, though so well suited for it, and like 
some wise statute, never executed or thought 
of, though in full force, lies as imheeded as if 
it was not in being. 

'Tis plain 'twas otherwise in the present 
instance, where Joseph seems to acknowledge 
the influence it had upon him, in his declara- 

90i 



JOSEPH'S HISTORY 

tion, — ** That it was not they, but God who 
sent hun." And does not this virtue shine 
the brightest in such a pious application of the 
permission to do so benevolent a purpose ? 

Without derogating fix>m the merit of his 
forbearance, he might be supposed to have cast 
an eye upon the change and uncertainty of 
human affairs which he had seen himself, and 
which had convinced him we were all in one 
another's power by turns, and stand in need of 

one another's pity and compassion : and 

that to restrain the cruelties and stop the inso- 
lence of men's resentments, GrOD has so ordered 
it in the course of his providence, that very 
often in this world — our revenges return upon 
our own heads, and men's violent dealings 
upon their own pates. 

And, besides these considerations, — that, in 
generously forgiving an enemy, he was the 
truest friend to his own character, and should 
gainmoreto it bysuchanmstanceof subdu. 

ing his spirit, than if he had taken a city. 

The brave only know how to forgive ; 

it is the most refined and generous pitch of 
virtue human nature can arrive at — • Cowards 
have done good and kind actions, cowards 

Hero* 

905 



SERMON XII 

have even fbugfat — nay scmietimes even oon- 

quered; — but a coward never fivgave. Ifc 

is not in his nature ; the power of doing 

it flows only firom a strength and greatnesi of 
soul, conscious of its own fiiroe and aecuiiljft 
and above the little temptations of if ia eiilJfy 
every firuitless attempt to intemqit its hqipir 
ness. Moreover, setting aside all considenk 
tions of his character, in passing by an iigaiy« 
he was the truest friend likewise to his own 
happiness and peace of mind; he never ftlt 
that fretful storm of passions, which huny mm 
on to acts of revenge, or suffisred those pa^gs 
of horror which pursue it Thus he nnf^ 
possibly argue, and no frirther ; — for want of 
a better foundation and better hdps, he could 
raise the building no higher ; — to cany it up- 
wards to its perfection, we must call in to our 
aid that more spiritual and refined doctrine in- 
troduced upon it by Christ; namely, to for- 
give a brother, not only to seven times, but to 

seventy times seven, that is, without 

limitation. 

In this, the excellency of the Grospel is said, 
by some one, to appear with a remarkable ad- 
vantage; ^^That a christian is as much dis- 
posed to love and serve you, when yoiu* enemy, 

906 



JOSEPH'S HISTORY 

as the mere moral man can be, when he is your 

friend." This, no doubt, is the tendency 

of his reUgion — but how often or in what de- 
grees it succeeds, — how nearly the practice 
keeps pace with the theory, the all-wise 
Searcher into the hearts of men, is alone able 
to determine. But it is to be feared, that such 
great effects are not so sensibly felt, as a spec- 
ulative man would expect from such powerful 
motives ; and there is many a christian society, 
which would be glad to compound amongst 
themselves for some lesser degrees of perfec- 
tion on one hand, were they sure to be ex- 
empted, on the other, from the bad effects of 
those fretful passions which are ever taking, as 
well as ever gi^-ing, the occasions of strife ; 
the beginnings of which Solomon aptly com- 
pares to the letting out of waters, the opening 
a breach which no one can be sure to stop till 
it has proceeded to the most fatal events. 

With justice therefore might the son of 
Sirach conclude, concerning pride, that secret 
stream, which administers to the overflowings 
of resentments, that it was not made for man, 
nor furious anger for him that is bom of a 
woman. That the one did not become his 
station, and that the other was destructive to 



SERMON XII 

all the happiness he was intoided to xeeei' 
from it. How miserably then must those mi 
turn tyrants against themselves, as well i 
others, who grow splaietie and revengeful, n 
only upon the little unavoidable oppositioi 
and offences they must meet with in the con 
merce of the world ; but upon those which on] 
reach them by report, and accordingly tormea: 
their little souls with meditating how to retui 
the injury, before they are certain they hai 
received one ? Whether this eager sensibilit 
of wrongs and resentment arises from thi 
general cause, to which the son of Sirach seen 
to reduce all fierce anger or passion; c 
whether to a certain sourness of temper, whic 
stands in everybody's way, and therefore sul 
ject to be often hurt : firom whichever cau5 
the disorder springs, the advice of the authc 
of the book of Ecclesiasticus is proper : " A(j 
monish a friend, says he, it may be he hat 
not done it ; and if he have, that he do it no 
again. Admonish thy friend, it may be tha 
he hath not said it; and if he have, that h 
speak it not again. There is that slippeth i 
his speech, but not from his heart: and who i 
he, who hath not offended with his tongue ? " 
I cannot help taking notice here of a certaii 



JOSEPH'S HISTORY 

species of forgiveness, which is seldom enforced 
or thought of, and yet in no way below our 
regard : I mean the forgiveness of those, if 
we may be allowed the expression, whom we 
have injured ourselves. One would think that 
the difficulty of forgiving could only rest on 
the side of him who has received the wrong ; 
but the truth of the fact is often otherwise. 
The consciousness of having provoked another's 
resentment often excites the aggressor to keep 
beforehand with the man he has hurt, and not 
only to hate him for the evil he expects in re- 
turn, but even to pursue him down, and put it 
out of his power to make reprisals. 

The baseness of this is such, that it is suffi- 
cient to make the same observation, which was 
made upon the crime of parricide among the 
Grecians : — it was so black, their legis- 
lators did not suppose it could be conunitted, 
and therefore made no law to punish it 



SERMON XIII 

DUTY OF SETTING BOUNDS TO OUR 

DESIRES 

And he said onto him, Saj now unto her, Behold, thon hast 
been careftil for ub with all thia care ; — what ia to be done for 
thee ? — wonldst thou be spoken for to the king, or the captain 
of the host? — And she answered, I dwell among mine own 
people. » 2 KniQB iy. 13. 

THE first part of the text is the words 
which the prophet ElUsha puts into the 
mouth of his servant G^hazi, as a mes- 
sage of thanks to the woman of Shunem for 
her great kindness and hospitality, of which, 
after the acknowledgment of his just sense, 
which G^hazi is bid to deliver in the words — 
** Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all 
this care ; " — he directs him to inquire in what 
way he may best make a return in discharge of 
the obligation, — " What shall be done for 
thee? Wouldest thou be spoken for to the 
king, or the captain of the liost ? " The last 
part of the text is the Shunammite's answer, 
which implies a refusal of the honour or advan- 

911 



SERMON Xm 



tage which the prophet infcoidod to haog h^qd 
her by such an appIicatioii» wbidi ahe indireetfy 
expresses in her contentment and satisbucHatk 
with what she enjoyed in her piea e nt ataiian; 

i **I dwell among mine own people.* lUi 

instance of self-denial in the Shmiammite^ ii 

h but properly the introduction to her atoty, and 

gives rise to that long and very pathetic trana- 
action, which follows m the supematunl grant 
of a child, which GrOD had many yeara denied 

her. The affecting loss of him aa aoon as 

he was grownup — and his restontioa to fife 
by Ehsha, after he had been some time dead ; 
the whole of which, though extremely inter- 
esting, and forming such inddents aa wddU 
afford sufficient matter for instruction, yet» as 
it will not fiEdl within the intenticHi of tfaia dia- 
course, I shall beg leave at this time barely to 
consider those previous circumstances of it, to 
which the text confines me ; upon which I shall 
enlarge with such reflections as occur, and then 
proceed to that practical use and exhortation, 
which will naturally fall from it 

We find that after Elisha had rescued the 
distressed widow and her two sons from the 
hands of the creditor, by the miraculous mul- 
tiplication of her oil, — that he passed on to 

919 



ii 



SETTING BOUNDS TO DESIRES 

Shiinem, where, we read, was a great woman, 
and she constrained him to eat bread ; and 
so it was, that, as often as he passed by, he 
turned in thither to eat bread. The sacred his- 
torian speaks barely of her temporal condition 
and station in life. — '* That she was a great 
woman," but describes not the more material 
part of her, her virtues and character, because 
they were more evidently to be discovered 
from the transaction itself, from which it ap- 
pears, that she was not only wealthy, but like- 
wise charitable, and of a very considerate turn 
of mind. For after many repeated invitations 
and entertainments at her house, finding his 
occasions called him to a frequent passage that 

way ; she moves her husband to set up 

and furnish a lodging for him, with all the 
conveniences which the simplicity of those 
times required : ** And she said imto her 
husband. Behold, now I perceive that this is 
an holy man of God, which passeth by us con- 
tinually ; let us make him a little chamber, I 
pray thee, on the wall, and let us set for him 
there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a 
candlestick ; and it shall be, when he cometh 
to us, that he shall turn in thither." — She per- 
ceived he was a holy man, — she had many op- 

913 



SEItMON XIII 

portuiiities, as he passed 1^ Ihem oontiinu] 
observing his behaviour and deporbnent, i 
she had caiefUlly rqnaiked, and saw pb 
what he was. 'Diat the sanctity and sii^ 
of his manners, — the severity erf his life, - 
zeal for the religion of his Goo, and Uw 
common fervency of devotion, ^rhea he 
fdiipped before Idm, which seemed bis n 
business and anpl(^rment i^on earth ;- 
bespoke him not a man of thu wvaid, bat 
whose heart and affectifflis were fixed i 
another object, which was dearer and i 
} important to him. But as such outward 

''' pearances may and often have been oou 

fated, so that the actions of a man are certi 
the only interpreters to be relied on, wb» 

such colours are true or &lse so she 

heard that all was of a piece there, and Hu 
was throughout consistent ; that he had n 
in any one instance of his life acted as i 
had any views in the affairs of this worli 
which he had never interested himself at 
but where the glory of his God, or the j 
and preservation of his fellow-creatures, at 
inclined him : that, in a late instance, be 
he came to Shunem. he had done one of 
kindest and most charitable acti(ms thi 



SETTING BOUNDS TO DESIRES 

good man could have done, in assisting the 
widow and fatherless ; and, as the &et was singu- 
lar, and had just happened before her knowl- 
edge of him, no doubt she had heard the story 
with all the tender circumstances which a true 
report would give in its favour, namely, that a 
certain woman whose husband was lately dead, 
and had left her with her children in a very 
helpless condition — very destitute — and, 
what was still worse, charged with a debt she 
was not able to pay, — that her creditor bore 
exceeding hard upon her, and, finding her little 
worth in substance, was going to take the ad- 
vantage which the law allowed of seizing her 
two sons for his bondsmen ; so that she had 
not only lost her husband, which had made her 
miserable enough already, but was going to be 
bereaved of her children, who were the only 
comfort and support of her life ; that upon her 
coming to Elisha with this sad story, he was 
touched with compassion for her misfortunes, 
and had used all the power and interest which 
he had with his God to relieve and befnend 
her, which, in an imheard-of manner, by the 
miraculous increase of her oil, which was the 
only substance she had left, he had so bounti- 
fully effected, as not only to disentangle her 



SERMON XIU 

from her difficulties in Tpaying the debt; 
withal, what was still mcne geaaouSf to ei 
I her to Htc cmnfortably the remainder ad 

days. She considered that diarity and i 
r. passion was so leading a virtue, and had 

I an influence upon every other part c^ a n 

!| character, as to be a sufficient proof l^ i 

i\ of the inward disposition and goodnesa d 

[c heart ; but that soengaging an wiftwnrff of 

F this, exercised in so kind and so seaaci 

( a manner, was a demcmstration of his, — 

. that he was in truth what outward cin 

t stances bespoke, a holy man of God. 

; the Shunammite's principle and motive fia 

( hospitahly to Klisha was just, as it ap 

' from an idea of the worth and merit oi 

^( guest, so likewise was the manner of doii 

kind and considerate. It is observable 
does not soUcit her husband to assign hiii 
apartment in her own house, but to buUd 

a chamber on the wall apart ; • she 

sidered, that true piety wanted no 

nesses, and was always most at ease whoi i 
private ; — that the tumult and distractic 
a large family were not fit for the silent i 
itations of so holy a man, who would 
petually there meet with something eithf 



SETTING BOUNDS TO DESIRES 

interrupt his devotion, or offend the purity of 

his manners ; that moreover, under such 

an independent roof, where he could take 
shelter as often as his occasions required, she 
thought he might taste the pleasure which 
was natural to man, in possessing something 
like what he could call his own, — and, what 
is no small part of conferring a favour, he 
would scarce feel the weight of it, or at least 
much seldomer in this manner, than where a 
daily invitation and repetition of the kindness 
perpetually put him in mind of his obligation. 
If anything could still add to this — it was 
that it did not appear to be the dry offer of a 
faint civility, but that it came directly fix>m 
the heart There is a nicety in honest minds, 
which will not accept, a cold and suspected 
offer, — and even when it appears to be sincere 
and truly meant, there is a modesty in true 
merit which knows not how to accept it ; and 
no doubt she had one, if not both these diffi- 
culties to conquer in their turns. — For we 
read, that she constrained him, and in all like- 
lihood forced his acceptance of it, with all the 
warmth and friendly openness of a humane 
and hospitable temper. 

It is with benefits as with injuries in this 

tl7 



SERMON Xm 



respect^ that we donot somiich wd|||^ die 
dental good w evil tliey do ua^ as tiiat nUeh 

tfaesr were desgned to do us. Thst h 

we ccmsider no part of tliem ao mudias tliK 
intenticm ; and the prophetf a faehAvknir cone* 
quent upon this, shows he bdield it tliRNi|^ 
this medium, or in some sudi advan^geooi 
light as I have placed it 
There is no burden so heavy to a gndcAiI 

mind, as a debt of kindness unpaid; 

and we may believe EUsha Mt it so^ ftom the 
earnest desire which he had, upon the imme- 
diate receipt of this, to dischaige himself of ib 
which he expresses in the text in the wanu at 

manner ; *' Behold, thou hast been eare- 

fulfor us with all this care: Whatflhil 

be done for thee ? Wouldest thou be spdnsa 
for to the king, or the captain of the host?" 

There is a degree of honest impatience in 

the words, such as was natural to a good man, 
who would not be behind-hand with his bene- 
factor. — But there is one thing which may 
seem strange at first sight, that as her station 
and condition of life was such, that she 
appeared rather to have abounded already, 
than stood in want of anything in this world 
which such an application could supply,— 

918 



SETTING BOUNDS TO DESIRES 

why the prophet should not rather have pro- 
po^ some spiritual advantage, which, as it 
would better have become the sanctity of his 
character on the one hand, so, on the other, it 
would have done a more real and lasting ser- 
vice to his friend. 

But we are to reflect, that, in returning frt- 
vours, we act differently frt>m what we do in 
conferring them :- in the one case we simply 
consider what is best, — in the other, what is 
most acceptable. The reason is, that we have 
a right to act according to our own ideas of 
what wiU do the party most good, in the case 
where we bestow a favour; — but where we 
return one, we lose this right, and act ac- 
cording to his conceptions, who has obliged us, 
and endeavour to repay in such a manner as 
we think is most likely to be accepted in dis- 
charge of the obligation. — So that, though we 
are not to imagine Elisha could be wanting 
in religious duties, as well as wishes, to so 
hospitable a friend^ we may yet suppose he 
was directed here by this principle of equity, 

and that in reflecting in what manner he 

should requite his benefactress, he had consid- 
ered, that to one of her affluent condition, who 
had all the reasonable comforts of an indepen- 

919 



SERMON Xin 

dent life, if there was any r"'T^™' ) 

unsatisfied, it must tiertainly be unbition : tl 
tfaou^ in general it was an in^gnlar i^ipeti 
which, in most cases, 'twas dangennu to gr 
ify, yet in efibct 'twas only so fkr criminal, 
the power which is acquired was perverted 
bad and vicious purposes, idiich it vbb i 
likely to be ha^ from the specimen she fa 
already ^ven of her disposition, which shm 
that if she did wish fi»r an increase of wed 
or honour, she wished it cmly, as it would i 
able her more goterously to extend her arm 
kind offices, and increase the power as wdl 
the opportunities of doing good. 

In justice to Elisha's motive wfaidi mi 
have been good, we must suppose he cana 
ered his offer in this light ; and what prin 
pally led Him to propose it, was the gre 
interest he had with the king of Israel at tli 
time, which he had merited by a single servic 
and as he had no views for himself he thoug 
it could not be employed so well as in esta 
lishing the fortune of one, whose virtue mig 
be so safely trusted with it. It was a justi 

able prepossession in her favour, thouj 

one not always to be relied on ; for there 
many a one who in a moderate station, ai 



'SETTING BOUNDS TO DESIRES 

with a lesser degree of power, has behaved 
with honour and unblemished reputation, and 
who has even borne the buffetings of adverse 
fortune well, and manifested great presence and 
strength of mind under it, whom nevertheless 
a high exaltation has at once overcome, and 
so entirely changed, as if the party had left not 
only his virtue, but even himself behind him. 

Whether the Shunammite dreaded to make 
this dangerous experiment of herself. — or, 
which is more likely, that she had learned to 
set bounds to her desires, and was too well 
satisfied with her present condition to be 
tempted out of it, she declines the offer in the 
close of the text: — " I ditell amongst mine 
own people ; " as if she had said, " The intended 
kindness is far from being small, but it is not 
useful to me ; I live here, as thou art a wit- 
ness, in peace, in a contented obscurity ; — 
not so high as to provoke envy, nor so low as 
to be trodden down and despised. In this 
safe and middle state, as I have lived amongst 
my own people, so let me die out of the reach, 
both of the cares and glories of the world. 

'Tis fit, O holy man of God ! that I 

learn some time or other to set bounds to my 
desires, and if I cannot fix them now, when I 



SERMON XIII 

have already more than my wants require, 
when shall I hope to do it ? — Or how should 
I expect, that even this increase of honour or 
fortune would fully satisfy and content my 
ambition, should I now ^ve way to it ? " 

So engaging an instance of unaffected mode- 
ration and self-denial, deserves well to be con- 
sidered by the bustlers in this world ; — because 
if we are to trust the face and course of tilings, 
we scarce see any virtue so hard to be put in 
practice, and which the generality of mankind 
seem so unwilling to learn, as this of knowing 
when they ha^'c enough, and when it is time to 
give over their worldly pursuits : — Ay ! but 
nothing is more easy, you will answer, than 
to fix this point, and set certain bounds to it 

"For my own part, you will say, I de- , 

clare, I want and would wish no more, but s 
sufficient competency of those things, which are 
reqmsite to the real uses and occasions of li£^ 
suitable to the way I have been taught to ex- 
pect from use and education." — But recollect 
how seldom it ever happens, when these points 
are secured, but that new occasions and new 
necessities present themselves, and every day as 
you grow richer, fresh wants are discovered, 
which rise up before you, as you ascend the hiU ; 



SETTING BOUNDS TO DESIRES 

so that every step you take, — every accession 
to your fortune, sets your desires one degree 

farther from rest and satisfaction ; that 

something you have not yet grasped, and 

possibly never shall ; that devil of a 

phantom unpossessed and unpossessable is 
perpetually haunting you, and stepping in be- 
twixt you and your contentment, — Unhappy 
creature ! to think of enjoying that blessing 
without moderation I — or imagine that so sa- 
cred a temple can be raised upon the founda- 
tion of wealth or power ! — If the ground-work 
is not laid within your own mind, they will as 
soon add a cubit to your stature, as to your 

happiness. To be convinced it is so, 

pray look up to those who have got as high as 
their warmest wishes could carry them in this 
ascent, — do you observe they live the better, 
the longer, the merrier, — or that they sleep the 
sounder in their beds, for having twice as much 
I they wanted, or well know how to dispose 
- Of all rules for calculating happiness, 
"this is the most deceitful, and which few but 
weak minds, and those unpractised in the world 
too, ever think of applying as the measure 
in such an estimation. Great, and in- 
expressible may be the happiness, which a 





SERMON XIII 



moderate fintune and moderate desires witb 
omsdousness of virtue wiU secure. Many a 
the aHesA pleasures of the honest peasant, wl 
rises cheerful to his labour ; — why should th< 
not? — Look into his house, the seat of eax 
man's hap^ness ; has he not the same domest 

endeannents, the same joy and comfo 

in his children, and as flattering hopes of the 
dfnng wdl, to enliven his hours and gladdt 
his heart, as you could conceive in the highe 

statim? And I make no doubt in gei 

eral, but if the true state of his joys and suffe 
ings, could be fairly balanced with those of fa 
betters, it4iether anything would appear at tl 
fbot of the account, but what would recor 
mend the moral of this discoiu^e. ^ — ^This, 
own, is not to be attained to, by the cynic 
stale trick of haranguing against the goods i 
fortune — they were never intended to 1 
,' talked out of the world. — But as virtue ao 

I true wisdom lie in the middle of extremes. - 

If; on one hand, not to neglect and despise riche 

J so as to forget ourselves, and on the oth^, n< 

\\ to pursue and love them so as to forget GoE 

i^ to have them sometimes in our heat 

— but always, something more important i 
our hearts. 



SERMON XIV 

SELF-EXAMINATION 

The ox knoweth hit owner, and the ass hit master's crib ; -^^ 
bat Israel doth not know, — mj people doth not consider. 

laAiAHi. 3. 

'^nr^IS a severe but an afiectionate reproach 
X of the prophet's, laid against the Isra- 
elites, which may safely be applied to 
every heedless, and unthankful people, who are 
neither won by God's mercies, nor terrified by 
his punishments. — There is a giddy, thought- 
less, intemperate spirit gone forth into the 
world, which possesses the generality of man- 
kind, — and the reason the world is undone, is, 
because the world does not consider, — con- 
siders neither awfiil regard to God — or the 

true relation themselves bear to him. 

Could they consider this, and learn to weigh 
the causes, and compare the consequences of 
things, and to exercise the reason, which God 
has put into us for the government and direction 
of our hves, — there would be some hopes of a 



SERMON XIV 

refonnation : but as the world goes, 

there is no leisure for such inquiries, and so 
full are our minds of other matters, that we 
have not time to ask, nor a heart to answer the 
questions we ought to put to ourselves. 

Whatever our condition is, 'tis good to be 
acquainted with it in time, to be able to supply 

what is wanting, and examine the state of 

our accounts, before we come to give them up 
to an impartial judge. 

The most inconsiderate see the reasonable- 
ness of this, — there being few, I beheve, either 
so thoughtless, or even so bad, but that they 
sometimes enter upon this duty, and have some 
short intervals of self-examination, which they 
are forced upon, if from no other motive, yet 
at least to &ee themselves &om the load and 
oppression of spirits they must necessarily be 
subject to without it But as the scrip- 
ture frequently intimates- — ^and observation 
confirms it ddly, — that there are many mis- 
takes attending the discharge of this duty, 

1 cannot make the remainder of this 

discourse more useful, than by a shrat inquiry 
into them. I shall therefore, first, beg leave 
to remind you of some of the many unhappy 
ways> by which we often set about this iric- 



SELF-EXAMINATION 

some task of examining om* works, without 
being either the better or the wiser for the 
employment. 

ULt then let u. begin with that which 
is the foundation of all the other false measures 
we take in this matter, that is, the set- 
ting about the examination of our works, be- 
fore we are prepared with honest dispositions 
to amend them, — this is beffinninir the work 
«««w™^reni The« pre*rLp<»itions 
in the heart, are the wheels that should make 
this work go easily and suecessfiilly forwards, 
and to take them off, and proceed with- 
out them, 'tis no miracle, if, like Pharaoh's 
chariots, they that drive them, — drive them 
heavily along. 

Besides, if a man is not sincerely inclined to 
reform his jGaults, — 'tis not likely he should be 
inclined to see them, — nor wiU aU the weekly 
preparations that ever were wrote, bring him 
nearer the point; — so that with how serious 

a face soever he begins to examine, he 

no longer does the office of an inquirer, — but 
an apologist, whose business is not to search 

for truth but skilfully to hide it 

So long therefore, as this pre-en- 

gagement lasts between the man and his old 



f. 






1 

§ 



r 



1 



SERMON XIV 



habits, there is little prospect of proviq 

his works to any good purpose — of whateve 
r kind they are, with so strong an interest and 

/ power on their side. — As in other trials, so ii 

V this, 'tis no wonder, if the evidence is puzded 

and confounded, and the several £u;ts and 
circumstances so twisted from their natural 
shapes, and the whole proof so altered and 

confirmed on the other side, as to leave 

the last state of that man even worse than the 
first 
A second unhappy, though general mi^Ag 

in this great duty of proving our works, 

is that which the apostle hints at ; in the doing 
it, not by a direct examination of our own 
actions, but from a comparative view of them 
with the lives and actions of other men. 

When a man is going to enter upon this work 

( of self-examination, there is nothing so 

common, as to see him look round him, 

; instead of looking within him. He 

looks round, finds out some one, who is 

more malicious, — sees another that is more 
covetous, a third that is more proud and im- 
perious than himself and so indirectly 

I forms a judgment of himself, not fi^m a 

review of his life, and a proving of his own 



SELF-EXAMINATION 

works, as the apostle directs him, but rather 
from proving the works of others, and fix>m 
their mfirmities and defects drawing a deceitful 

conclusion in favour of himself. In all 

competitions of this kind — one may venture 
to say there will be ever so much of self-love 
in a man, as to draw a flattering likeness of 

one of the parties and 'tis well 

if he has not so much malignity too, as to give 
but a coarse pictiu^ of the other, fin- 
ished with so many hard strokes, as to make 
the one as unlike its original as the other. 
Thus the pharisee, when he entered the 

temple, no sooner saw the publican, 

but that moment he formed the idea to him- 
self of all the vices and corruptions that could 

possibly enter into the man's character 

and with great dexterity stated all his own 
virtues and good qualities over against theuL 
His abstinence and frequent fasting, — exact- 
ness in the debts and ceremonies of the law ; 
not balancing the account as he ought to 
have done, in this manner : — ^What 1 though 
this man is a publican and a sinner, have not 
I my vices as well as he ? — 'Tis true, his par- 
ticular office exposes him to many temptations 
of conunitting extortion and injustice; — but 

999 




SERMON XIV 



thai am I not a devourer of wid 

houses, and guilty of one of the most crue 

; stances of the same crime ? He possibly 

[ profane postm, and may set religion at nouj 

!■ — but do not 1 myself for a pretence n 

f'. long prayers, and bring the greatest oi 

'. scandals upon religion, by making it a c 

' to my ambitious and worldly views ? — If 

j lastly^ is debauched and intemperate, — 

ft not I ccmscious of as corrupt and wanton 

V positions ; and that a fair and guarded out 

, is my best j^etence to the opposite charad 

f If a man will examine his works by a c 

r parative view of them with others ; — this 

!■ doubt, would be the fairer way and least Ul 

1 to mislead him. — But this is seldom 

I method this trial has gone tiu^ugh, — in f 

it generally tmns out to be as treacherous i 

Jy delusive to the man himself, as it is uncan 

*^ . to the man who is dragged into the comp 

J son ; and whoever judges of himself by 1 

IbF rule, — so long as there is no scarcity of 

"K cious characters in the world, — 'tis to 

|I feared, he will often take the occasions 

m triumph and rejoicing, — where in truth 

ought rather to be sorry and ashamed. 

A third error in the mann^ of proving < 



SELF-EXAMINATION 

works, is what we are guilty of, when we leave 
out of the calculation the only material parts 
of them ; — I mean, the motives and first prin- 
ciples fix>m whence they proceeded. There is 
many a fair instance of generosity, chastity, and 
self-denial, which the world may give a man the 
credit of, — which if he would give himself the 
leisure to reflect upon and trace back to their 
first springs, — he would be conscious, pro- 
ceeded fix>m such views and intentions, as, if 
known would not be to his honour. — The truth 
of this may be made evident by a thousand 
instances in life : — and yet there is nothing 
more usual than for a man when he is go- 
ing upon this duty of self-examination, — in- 
stead of calling his own ways to remembrance, 
— to close the whole inquiry at once, with this 
short challenge; — **That he defies the world 
to say iU of him.'' If the world has no express 
evidence, this indeed may be an argument of 
his good luck ; but no satisfactory one, of the 
real goodness and innocence of his life. — A 
man may be a very bad man, — and yet 
through caution, through deep-laid pol- 
icy and design may so guard all outward 
appearances, as never to want this negative 
testimony on his side ; — that the world knows 




SERMON XIV 



no evU of him, — how little soever he deserves 
it. — Of all assays upon a man's self, this may 
be said to be the slightest ; this method of 
proving the goodness of our works — differing 
but little in kind from that unhappy one, 
which many unwary people take in pro\Tng 
the goodness of their coin, — who, if it hap- 
pens to be suspicious, — instead of bringing it 
ettber to the balance or the touchstone to tiy 
its worth, — they ignorantly go forth ; try, if 

Uiey can pass it upon the world : if so, all 

is well, and they are saved all the expense Mid 

pains of inquiring after and detecting the cheat 

A fourth error in this duty of examination 

of men's woi^ is that of committing the 

task to others ; — an error into which thou- 
sands of well-meaning creatures are ensnared in 
the Romish church by her doctrines of auricu- 
lar confession, of works of supererogation, and 
the many lucrative practices raised upon that 
capital stock. — The trade of which is carried 
to such a height, in popish countries, that if 
you was at Rome or Naples now, and was dis- 
posed, in compliance with the apostle's exbw- 
tation in the text, to set about this du^, 
to prove your aam works, — 'tis great odds 
whether you would be suffered to do it yom^ 



SELF-EXAMINATION 

self, without interruption ; and you might be 
said to have escaped well, if the first person 
you consulted upon it did not talk you out of 
your resolution, and possibly your senses too 

at the same time. Prove your works ? 

— for Heaven's sake, desist from so rash an 
undertaking. — What I — trust your own skill 
and judgment in a matter of so much difficulty 

and importance, when there are so many 

whose business it is, — who understand it so 
well, and who can do it for you with so much 
safety and ad^'antage. 

If your works must be proved, you would 
be ad\'ised by all means to send them to 
undergo this operation with some one who 
knows what he is about, either some expert 
and noted confessor of the church, — or to 
some convent, or reUgious society, who are in 
possession of a large stock of good works of all 
kinds, wrought up by saints and confessors, 
where you may suit yourself ^ — and either get 
the defects of your own supphed, — or be 
accommodated with new ones ready proved to 
your hands, sealed, and certified to be so, 
by the Pope's commissary and the notaries of 
his ecclesiastic court. There needs little more 
to lay open this fatal error, — than barely to 



SERMON XIV 

represent it So I shall only add a short re- 
mark, — that they who are persuaded to be 
thus virtuous by proxy, and will prove the 
goodness of their works only by deputies, — 
will have no reason to complain against God's 
justice, — if he suflFers them to go to heaven 
only in the same manner, — that is, — by, 
deputies too. 

The last mistake which I shall have time 
mention, is that which the Methodists have 
revived, for 'tis no new error — but one which 
has misled thousands before these days, wher- 
ever enthusiasm had got footing and 

that is, the attempting to prove their 

works by that very argument which is the 
greatest proof of their weakness and supersti- 
tion : 1 mean that extraordinary impulse 

and intercourse with the Spirit of God which 
they pretend to, and whose operations (if you 
trust them) are so sensibly felt in their hearts 
and souls, as to render at once all otho: prot^ 
of their works needless to themselves. — This, 
I own, is one of the most summary ways of pro- 
ceeding in this duty of self-examination, and, 
as it proves a man's works in the gross, it saves 
him a world of sober thought and inquiry 
after many vexatious particulars. 



4 



SELF-EXAMINATION 

Indeed, if the premises were true, — the in- 
ference is direct For when a man dreams of 
these inward workings, and wakes with the im- 
pression of them strong upon his brain ; 'tis not 
strange, he should think himself a chosen vessel, 

sanctified within and sealed up unto 

the perfect day of redemption ; and so long as 
such a one is led captive by this error, — there 
is nothing in nature to induce him to this duty 
of examining his own works in the sense of the 

prophet : for however bad they are, — 

so long as his credulity and enthusiasm equal 
them, 'tis impossible they should disturb his 
conscience, or frighten him into a reformation. 
These are some of the unhappy mistakes in 
the many methods this work is set about, — 
which in a great measure rob us of the fruits 
we expected — and sometimes so entirely blast 
them, that we are neither the better nor wiser 
for all the pains we have taken. 

There are many other false steps which lead 
us the same way, — but the delineations of 
these, however, may serve at present, not only 
as so many landmarks to guard us from this 
dangerous coast which 1 have described, but to 
direct us Ukewise into that safe one, where 
we can only expect the reward tlie gospel 




SERMON XIV 



fnonuses. For if, according to the first re- 
cited causeSi a man fails in examining bis 
works, fixHn a disinclination to reform them, — 

from partiiilify of comparisons, from flat- 

tary to his own motives, and a vwn depend- 
ence upon the opinion of the world, — the 

conclusi(Hi is unavoidable, that he must 

search for the qualities the most opposite to 
these for his conductors. — And if he hopes to 
dischaige this work so as to have advantage 

ttojn it, that he must set out upon the 

prindples of an honest head, willing to reform 
itself and attached principally to that object, 
mthout regard to the spiritual condition of 
othera, or the misguided opinions which the 
world may have of himself 

That fax this end, — he must call his own 
ways to remembrance, and search out his 
spirit, — search his actions with the same crit- 
ical exactness and same piercing curiosi^, 
we are wont to sit in judgment upon otheis; 
varnishing nothing and disguis- 
ing nothing. If he proceeds thus, and in every 
relation of life takes a fuU view of himself with- 
out prejudice traces his actions to their 

principles without mercy, and looks into the 
dark comers and recesses of his heart without 



SELF-EXAMINATION 

fear and upon such an inquiry he 

acts consistent with his view in it, by reforming 
his errors, separating the dross and purifying 

the whole mass with repentance; this 

will bid fair for examining a man's works in 
the apostle's sense : and whoever dis- 
charges the duty thus with a view to 

scripture, which is the rule in this case 

and to reason, which is the applier of this rule 

in all cases need not fear but he will 

have what the prophet calls rfjoidng in hint' 
self 9 — and that he will lay the foundation of 
his peace and comfort where it ought to lie 
that is, within himself — in the testi- 
mony of a good conscience, and the joyful 
expectation that, having done his most to 
examine his own works here, God will accept 
them hereafter through the merits of Christ ; 
which God grant Amen. 



937 



SERMON XV 

JOFS EXPOSTULATION WITH HIS WIFE 

What ! Shall we reodye good at the hand of Qod, and 

ahall we not receiye eyil also ? — Job ii 10. 

THESE are the words of Job, uttered in 
the depth of his misfortunes, by way of 
reproof to his wife, for the counsel we 
find she had given him in the foregoing verse ; 
namely, not to retain his integrity any longer, 

but to curse God and die. Though it 

is not very evident, what was particularly meant 

and implied in the words " Curse God 

and die," yet it is certain fix>m Job's 

reply to them, that they directed him to some 
step, which was rash and unwarrantable, and 
probably, as it is generally explained, meant 
that he should openly call God's justice to an 
account, and by a blasphemous accusation of it, 
provoke God to destroy his being : as if she 
had said, — After so many sad things which 
have befallen thee, notwithstanding thy integ- 
rity, what gainest thou by serving God, seeing 



SERMON XV 

he bears thus hard upon thee, as though thou 

wast his enemy? Ought so fSEuthfiil a 

servant as thou hast been, to receive so much 
unkind treatment at his hands ; — and tamely 
to submit to it? — patiently to sustain the 
evils he has brought upon thy house, and 
neither murmur with thy Ups nor charge him 
with injustice? — Bear it not thus; — and as 
thy piety could not at first protect thee fix)m 
such misfortunes, — nor thy behaviour under 
them could since move God to take pity on 
thee; — change thy conduct towards him; — 
boldly expostulate with him, — upbraid him 
openly with unkindness ; — call his justice and 
providence to an account for oppressing thee in 
so undeserved a manner, and get that benefit 
by provoking him, which thou hast not been 

able to obtain by serving him to die at 

once by his hands, and be fi'ced at least, fix)m 
the greater misery of a lingering and more tor- 
menting death. 

On the other hand, some interpreters tell us, 

that the word cursey in the original, is 

equivocal, and does more literally signify here, 
to bless than to blaspheme, and consequently 
that the whole is rather to be considered as a 
sarcastical scoff at Job's piety. — As if it had 



JOB'S EXPOSTULATION 

been said; — Go to, bless God, and 

die ; — since thou art so ready to praise him in 
troubles as thou hast done, go on in thy own 
way, and see how God will reward thee, by a 
miserable death which thou canst not avoid. 

Without disputing the merit of these two 
interpretations, it may not seem an improbable 
conjecture, that the words imply something 
still different from what is expressed in either 

of them, and instead of supposing them 

as an incitement to blaspheme God, — which 
was madness — or that they were intended as 
an insult, which was unnatural ; — that her ad- 
vice to curse God and die, was meant here, 
that he should resolve upon a voluntary death 
himself, which was an act not only in his 
own power, but what carried some appearance 
of a remedy with it, and promised, at least at 
first sight, some respite from pain, as it would 
put an end both to his life and his misfortimes 
together. 

One may suppose that with all the concern 
and affection which was natural, she beheld 
her lord afilicted both with poverty and sick- 
ness ; — by one sudden blow brought down 
from his palace to the dunghilL— In one 
mournful day she saw, that not only the for- 

941 



SERMON XV 

tunes of his house were blasted, but likewise 
the hopes of his posterity cut off for ever by 

the untimely loss of his children- She 

knew he was a virtuous and an upright man, 
and deserved a better fate ; — her heart bled 
the more for him, — she saw the prospect 

before him was dreadfiil, that there 

appeared no possible means, which could re- 
trieve the sad situation of his affairs, — that 

death, the last the sures-t firiend of the 

imfortunate, could only set him free ; — and 
that it was better to resolve upon that at once, 
than vainly endeavour to wade through such a 
sea of troubles, which in the end would over- 
whelm him. We may suppose her spirits 
sinking under those apprehensions, when she 
began to look upon his constancy as a finiitless 
virtue, and from that persuasion, to have said 
unto him, — Ciu*se God, — depend no l<nger 
upon him, nor wait the issues of his providence 

which has already forsaken thee: as 

there is no help from that quarto*, re- 
solve to extricate thyself; — and since thou 
hast met with no justice in this world, — leave 

it, — die, and force thy passage into 

a better country, where misfortunes cannot 
follow thee. 



JOBS EXPOSTULATION 

Whether this paraphrase upon the words is 
just, or the former interpretations be admitted, 

the reply in the text is equally proper ; 

— What! — Shall we receive good at the 
hands of God, and shall we not receive evil 
also ? Are not both ahke the dispensation 
of an all-wise and good Being, who knows 
and determines what is best ? and wherefore 
should I make myself tlie judge, to receive the 
one, and yet be so partial as to reject the other, 
when by fairly putting both into the scale, 1 
may be convinced how much the good out- 
weighs the evil in all cases ? in my own, con- 
sider how strong this argument is against me. 

Tn the beginning of my days, how did God 
crown me with honour I In how remarkable 
a manner did his providence set a hedge about 
me, and about all that I had on every side 1 — 
how he prospered the works of my hands, so 
that our substance and happiness increased 
every day 1 

And now, when for reasons best known to 
hb infinite wisdom, he has thought fit to try 

me with afflictions, shall I rebel against 

him in sinning with my Ups, and charging 

him foolishly ? — Gon forbid ! Oh rather 

may I look up towards that hand which has 



SERMON XV 

bruised me, — for he maketh sore and he bii 
eth up, he woundeth and his hands make lAn 
From his bounty only has issued all I h 
fix>m his wisdom — all I have lost ; for he g 

eth, and he hath taken away : blessed 

his name. 

There are few instances of particular virl 

more engaging than those of this heroic ca 

and if we take the testimony of a heathen p 

losopher upon it, there is not an object in t 

^ world which God can be supposed to Ic 

down upon with greater pleasure, than tl 
of a good man involved in misfortunes, s 
rounded on all sides with difficulties — ] 
cheerfully bearing up his head, and struggl] 
against them with finnness and constancy 
mind. — Certainly to our conceptions su 

objects must be truly engaging: and t 

reason of so exalted an encomium from tl 
hand, is easily to be guessed : no doubt t 
wisest of the heathen philosophers had four 
» from observation upon the life of man, tl 

j the many troubles and infirmities of his natu 

the sicknesses, disappointments, sorrow^s for t 
loss of children or property, with the numlx 
less other calamities and cross accidents 
which the life of man is subject, were in thei 



I 



i 



1 

J 



JOB'S EXPOSTULATION 

sdves so great; — and so ^U solid comfort to 
be administered fix>m the mere refinements of 
philosophy in such emei^geneies, that there was 
no virtue which required greater efforts, or 
iiiiich was found so difficult to be achieved 
upon moral principles ; upon moral principles 

which had no foundation to sustain this 

great weight, which the infirmities of our nature 
laid upon it. And for this reason 'tis observ- 
able that there is no subject, upon which the 
moral writers of antiquity have exhausted so 
much of their eloquence, or where they have 
spent such time and pains, as in this of en- 
deavouring to reconcile men to these evils. 
Insomuch, that fix>m thence, in most modem 
languages, the patient enduring of affliction 
has by degrees obtained the name of Philoso- 
pher, and almost monopolised the word to 
itself, as if it was the chief end or compendium 
of all the wisdom which philosophy had to 
offer. And indeed, considering what lights 
they had, some of them wrote exceedingly well ; 
yet, as what they said proceeded more from 
the head than the heart, 'twas generally more 
calculated to silence a man in his troubles, 
than to convince, and teach him how to bear 
them. And therefore however subtle and in- 



SERMON XV 

genious their arguments might appear in the 
reading, 'tis to be feared they lost much of 
their efficacy, when tried in the application. 
If a man was tlirust back in the world by dis- 
appointments, or as was Job's case 

had suffered a sudden change in his fortunes, 
from an affluent condition was brought down 
by a train of cruel accidents, and pinched with 
poverty - — philosophy would come in, and ex- 
hort him to stand his ground ; it would 

tell him that the same greatness and strength 
of mind, which enabled him to behave well in 
tlie days of his prosperity, should equally enable 
him to behave well in the days of his adversity ; 
— that it was the property of only weak and 
base spirits, who were insolent in the one, to be 
dejected and overthi-own by the other ; whereas 
great and generous souls were at all times calm 

and equal. ■ As they enjoyed the advantages 

of life with indifFerenee, they were able to 

resign them with the same temper, — and am- 

sequently were out of the reach of forttme. 

All which, however fine, and likely to satisfy 
the fancy of a man of ease, could convey but 
little consolation to a heart already pierced 
with sorrow ; — nor is it to be conceived how 
an unfortimate creature should any more xe- 



/^k 



JOB'S EXPOSTULATION 

ceive relief fix>m such a lecture, however just, 
than a man racked with an acute fit of the gout 
or stone, could be supposed to be set free fix>m 
torture, by hearing fix>m his physician a nice 
dissertation upon his case. The philosophic 
consolations in sickness, or in afilictions for 
the death of friends and kindred, were just as 
efficacious; — and were rather in general to 
be considered as good sayings than good 

remedies. So that, if a man bereaved of 

a promising child, in whom all his hopes and 
expectations centered, — or a wife was left 
destitute to mourn the loss and protection of a 
kind and tender husband, — Seneca or Epicte- 
tus would tell the pensive parent and disconso- 
late widow, — that tears and lamentations for 
the dead were fruitless and absurd ; — that to 
die, was the necessary and unavoidable debt of 
nature ; — and as it could admit of no remedy 
— 'twas impious and foolish to grieve and fr^t 
themselves upon it. Upon such sage counsel, 
as well as many other lessons of the same 
stamp, the same reflection might be applied, 
which is said to have been made by one of the 
Roman emperors, to one who administered the 
same consolations to him on a hke occasion, — 
to whom advising him to be comforted, and 

947 




t 



SERMON XV 

make himself easy, since the event had 1 
brought about by fatality, and could nol 

helped, — he replied, "That this 

so far fix)m lessening his trouble, — that it 

the very circumstance which occasioned 

— So that upon the whole — when the ' 

I value of these, and many more of their cur 

i arguments have been weighed and brou^i 

the test, — one is led to doubt, whether 

greatest part of their heroes, the most 

nowned for constancy, were not much n 

^ indebted to good nerves and spirits, or 

i natural happy frame of their tempers, for 

f J I having well, than to any extraordinary he 

which they could be supposed to receive f 
/Ci their instructors. And therefore I she 

make no scruple to assert, that one such 

stance of patience and resignation as 1 

which the scripture gives us in the persoi 

i Job, not of one most pompously declain 

upon the contempt of pain and poverty, bu 

\ a man sunk in the lowest condition of humar 

. j to behold him when stripped of his estate 

' ' ' his wealth, his friends, his children — ch 

- { . fully holding up his head, and entertaining 

\ A hard fortune with firmness and serenity ; — 

; -^ this, not from a stoical stupidity, but a ^ 

? = 

; > 
J 

>■;■ • 
/ . 

,'J' 



i 



JOB'S EXPOSTULATION 

sense of GtOd's providence, and a persuasion of 
his justice and goodness in all his dealings 

Such an example, I say, as this, is of 

more universal use, speidcs truer to the heart, 
than all the heroic precepts, which the pedan- 
tryofphUosophyhastooffer. 

This leads me to the point I aim at in this 

discourse ; namely, that there are no prin- 

ciples but those of religion to be depended on 
in cases of real distress, and that these are able 
to encounter the worst emergencies; and to 
bear us up imder all the changes and chances 
to which our life is subject 

Consider then what virtue the very first 
principle of religion has, and how wonderftilly 
it is conducive to this end. That there is a 
God, a powerfid, a wise and good being, who 
first made the world and continues to govern 
it; by whose goodness all things are de- 
signed, — and by whose providence all things 
are conducted to bring about the greatest and 
best ends. The sorrowful and pensive wretch 
that was giving way to his misfortimes, and 
mournfully sinking under them, the moment 
this doctrine comes in to his aid, hushes all his 
complaints, — and thus speaks comfort to his 
soul; — '*It is the Lord, let him do what 



SERMON XV 

seemeth him good, ~ without his direction 
know that no evil can befall me, — without fc 
permission that no power can hurt me. — It 
impossible a Being so wise should mistake n 
happiness — or that a Being so good shou 
contradict it If he has denied me riches ar 
other advantages — perhaps he foresees tl 
gratifying my wishes would undo me, and I 
my own abuse of them be pen'erted to rr 
ruin. — If he has denied me the request i 
children, — or in his providence has thougl 
fit to take them from me — how can I say - 
whether he has not dealt kindly with me, ao 
only taken that away which he foresaw woul 
embitter and shorten my days ? It does so 1 
thousands, where the disobedience of a thanl 
less child has brought down the parent's gra 
hairs with sorrow to the grave. Has he visite 
me with sickness, poverty, or other disappoin' 
ments ? — can I say, but these are blessings i 
disguise ? — so many different expressions of h 
care and concern to disentangle my thoughi 
from this world, and fix them upon another, - 
another, a better world beyond this I " — Th 
thought opens a new scene of hope and coi 
solation to the unfortunate ; — and as the po 
suasion of a Providence reconciles him to tl 



JOB'S EXPOSTULATION 

evils he has suffered, — this prospect of a future 
life gives him strength to despise them, and 
esteem the light afflictions of his life as they 
are — not worthy to be compared to what is 
reserved for him hereafter. 

Things are great or smaU by comparison 

and he who looks no farther than this 

world, and balances the accounts of his joys 
and sufferings from that consideration, finds all 
his sorrows enlarged, and at the close of them 
will be apt to look back, and cast the same sad 
reflection upon the whole, which the patriarch 
did to Pharaoh, — "That few and evil had 
been the days of his pilgrimage." But let him 
lift up his eyes towards heaven, and stead- 
fastly behold the life and immortality of a 

future state, he then wipes away all 

tears frt)m off his eyes for ever and ever; 

like the exiled captive, big with the 

hopes that he is returning home he feels 

not the weight of his chains, nor coimts the 
days of his captivity ; but looks forward with 
raptiire towards the coimtry where his heart is 
fled before. 

These are the aids which religion offers us 
towards the regulating of our spirit under the 
evils of life, — but like great cordials, they 

951 




are seldom used but on great occmreiMi 
- In the lesser evils we seem to stai 

unguarded, and our peace and conten 

ment are overthrown, and our happiness bro] 
in upon by a Utile impatience of spirit, und 
the cross and untoward accidents we me 

with. These stand unprovided for, ar 

we neglect them as we do the slighter indi 
positions of the body — which we think ni 
worth treating seriously — and so leave the 
to nature. In good habits of the body, th 

may do, and I would gladly believ 

there are such good habits of the temper, su< 
a complexional ease and health of heart, : 
may often save the patient much medicine. - 
We are still to consider — that however su( 
good frames of mind are got — they are wor( 
preserving by all rules; — patience and ccm 
tentment, — which like the treasure hid in tl 
field for which man sold all he had to purchai 
— is of that price that it cannot be had at ti 
great a purchase, since without it, the be 
condition in life cannot make us happy, — si 
with it, it is impossible we should be miserafa 
even in the worst. — Give me leave therefo 
to close this discourse with some reflectiai 
upon the subject of a cont^ited mind 



JOB'S EXPOSTULATION 

and the duty in man of regulating his spirit, in 
our way through life ; a subject in every- 
body's mouth preached upon daily to 

our friends and kindred — but too oft in such 
a style, as to convince the party lectured, only 
of this truth ; — that we bear the misfortimes 
of others with excellent tranquillity. 

I believe there are thousands so extravagant 
in their ideas of contentment, as to imagine 
that it must consist in having everything in 
this world turn out the way they wish — that 
they are to sit down in happiness, and feel 
themselves so at ease in all points, as to desire 
nothing better and nothing more. I own 
there are instances of some, who seem to pass 
through the world as if aU their paths had been 

strewed with rosebuds of delight ; but a 

little experience will convince us, 'tis a fatal 
expectation to go upon. — We are bom to 
trouble; and we may depend upon it whilst 
we live in this world we shall have it, though 
with intermissions — that is, in whatever state 
we are, we shall find a mixture of good and 
evil ; and therefore the true way to content- 
ment is to know how to receive these certain 

vicissitudes of life, the returns of good 

and evil, so as neither to be exalted by the 

853 



SERMON XV 

one, or overthrown by the other, but to bear 
ourselves towards everything which happens 
with such ease and indifference of mind, as to 
hazard as Httle as may be. This is the true 
temperate chmate fitted for us by Nature, and 
in whicli every wise man would wish to live. ^ 
God knows, we are perpetually straying out of 
it, and by giving wings to our imaginations in 
the transports we dream of, from such or such 
a situation in life, we are carried away alter- 
nately into all the extremes of hot and cold, 
for which as we are neither fitted by nature, 
nor prepared by expectation, we feel them 
with all their violence, and with all their 
danger too. 

God, for wise reasons, has made our affairs 
in this world almost as fickle and capiicious as 
ourselves — Pain and pleasure, like light and 
darkness, succeed each other; and be that 
knows how to accommodate himself to thejr 
periodical returns, and can wisely extract the 
good from the evil — knows only how to live ; 
— this is true contentment, at least all that is 
to be had of it in this world, and for this every 
man must be indebted not to his fortune but 
to himself. — And indeed it would have been 
strange, if a duty so becoming us as dependoit 



Kv 



JOB'S EXPOSTULATION 

creatures — and so necessary besides to all our 
well-beings, had been placed out of the reach 
of any in some measure to put in practice 

and for this reason, there is scarce any 

lot so low, but there is something in it to 
satisfy the man whom it has befallen ; Provi- 
dence having so ordered things, that in every 
man's cup, how bitter soever, there are some 
cordial drops some good circum- 
stances, which if wisely extracted, are suffi- 
cient for the purpose he wants them, — that is, 
to make him contented, and if not happy, at 
least resigned. May God bless us all with this 
spirit, for the sake of Jesus Christ 1 Amen. 



96S 



1 



SERMON XVI 

THE CHARACTER OF SHIMEI 

But Aliiihai stid. Shall not Shimei be put to death for thii? 

S Samuxl ziz. Sly Fint Tut. 



I 



T has not a good aspect This is 

the second time Abishai has proposed 
Sfdmei^s destruction ; once in the 16th 
chapter, on a sudden transport of indignation, 
when Shimei cursed David. — " Why shmdd 
this dead dog^ cried Abishai^ curse my lord the 
king? let me go over^ I pray thee^ and cut 

off his head.** This had something at 

least of gallantly in it ; for in doing it, he haz- 
arded his own ; and besides, the offender was 
not otherwise to be come at : the second time, 
is in the text ; when the offender was abso- 
lutely in their power when the blood 

was cool; and the suppliant was holding up 
his hands for mercy. 

Shall not Shimei, answered Abishai, 

be put to death for this? So unrelenting a 
pursuit looks less like justice than revenge, 

t57 



SERMON XVI 

which is so cowardly a passion, that it rendos 
Abishai's first instance ahnost inconsistent with 
the second. I shall not endeavour to reconcile 
them ; but confine the discourse simply to 
Shimei ; and make such reflections upon hiu 
character as may be of use to society. ■ 

Upon the news of liis son Absalom's con-* 
spiracy, HaviH hnd fled 6xna Jerusalem, and 
from his uwn house, for safety : the represen- 
tation given nanner of it, was truly 

affecting : never was a scene of sorrow 

so full of distress 1 

The king fled with all his household, to save 
himself from the sword of the man he loved : 
he fled with aU the marks of humble sorrow— 
"with his head covered and barefoot ;" and as 
he went by the ascent of mount Olivet, the 
sacred historian says, he wept— some glad- 
some scenes, perhaps, which there had pass'd 

— some hours of festivity he had passed wiA 
Absalom in better days, pressed tenderly upcn 
nature, he wept at this sad vicissitude of things: 

— and all the people that were with him, smit- 
ten with his affliction, covered each man hit head 

— wegnnff as he went up. 

It was on this occasion, when David had got 
to Bahurim, that Shimei the sum of Gera, as we 



THE CHARACTER OF SHIMEI 

read in the 5th verse, came out:— was it with 
the choicest oils he could gather fix)m mount 
Olivet, to pour into his wounds ? — Times and 
troubles had done enough; and thou camest 
out, Shimei, to add thy portion 

^^ And as he camCy he cursed Daxid^ and 
threw stones and cast dust at him; and thus 
said Shimdy when he cursed : Cro to^ thou man 
of Belialy thou host sought bloody — and behold 
thou art caught in thy awn mischief; for now 
hath the Lord returned upon thee aU the 
blood of Saul and his house'' 

There is no smaU degree of malicious craft 
in fixing upon a season to give a mark of 
enmity and illwill: a word, — a look, which 

at one time would make no impression at 

another time wounds the heart; and like a 
shaft fiying with the wind, pierces deep, which, 
with its own natural force, would scarce have 
reached the object aimed at 

This seemed to have been Shimei's hopes: 
but excess of malice makes men too quick- 
sighted even for their own purpose. Could 
Shimei possibly have waited for the ebb of 
David's passions, and till the first great conflict 
within him had been over — then the reproach 
of Saul's blood must have hurt him — his heart 



859 



SERMON XVI 

was possessed with other feelings it bled 

for the deadly sting which Absalom had ^ven 
him — he felt not the indignity of a stranger — 

"Behold my son Absalom, who came oul of 
my bowels, seeketh my life — hoic mux'k mare 
may SMmei do it ? — let him alone ; it may be the 
Lord may look upon my affliction, and requite 
me good for fids evil." 

An injury unanswered in course grows weaiy 
of itself, and dies away in a voluntary remorse 

In bad dispositions capable of no restraint 

but fear it has a different effect 

the silent digestion of one wrong provokes a 
second. — He pursues him with the same 
invective ; and as David and his men went by 
the way, Shimei went along on the hiWs side 
truer against him ; and cursed as he went, and 
cast dust at him. 

The insolence of base minds in success is 
boundless ; and would scarce admit of a com- 
parison, did not they themselves furnish us 
Mrith one in the degrees of their abjection when 
evil returns upon them — the same poor heart 
which excites imgenerous tempers to triumph 
over a fallen adversary, in some instances seems 
to exalt them above the point of courage, nnks 
them in others even below cowardice. ■ — ' 



THE CHARACTER OF SHIMEI 

Not unlike some little particles of matter 
struck off from the surface of dirt by sunshine 

— dance and sport there whilst it lasts — but 
the moment 'tis withdrawn — they fall down 

— for dust they are — and unto dust they 

will return whilst firmer and larger 

bodies preserve the stations which nature has 
assigned them, subjected to laws which no 
change of weather can alter. 

This last did not seem to be Shimei's case ; 
in dl David's prosperity, there is no mention 
made of him — he thrust himself forward into 
the circle, and possibly was numbered amongst 
friends and well-wishers. 

When the scene changes, and David's 
troubles force him to leave his house in de- 
spair — Shimei is the first man we hear of, 
who comes out against Imn. 

The wheel turns roimd once more ; Absalom 
is cast down, and David returns in peace — 
Shimei suits his behaviour to the occasion, and 

is the first man who hastes to greet him 

and had the wheel tum'd round a hundred 
times, Shimei, I daresay, in every period of its 
rotation, would have been uppermost. 

O Shimei 1 would to heaven when thou 
wast slain, that all thy family had been slain 

961 



SERMON XVT 

with thee ; and not one of thy resemblance 
left ! but ye have multiplied exceedingly and 
replenished the earth ; and if I prophesy rightly 
ye will in the end subdue it 

There is not a character in the world which 
has so bad an influence upon the affairs of it, 
as this of Shimei ; whilst power meets with 
honest checks, and the evils of life with honest 
refuge, the world will never be undone : but 
thou, Shimei, has sapp'd it at both extremes; 
for thou eorruptest prosperity — and 'tis thou 
who hast broken the heart of poverty ; and so 
long as worthless spirits can be ambitious ones, 
'tis a character we shall never want- Oh I it 

infests the court the camp — the cabinet 

— it infests the Church — go where you wiU 

in every quarter, in every profession, 

you see a Shimei following the wheels of the 
fortunate through thick mire and clay. 

Haste, Shimei ! — haste ; or thoo 

wilt be undone ftMr ever Shimei girdeth 

up his loins and speedeth after him — bdnM 
the hand which governs eveiything, — tafces 
the wheels from off his chariot, so that he vfao 
driveth, driveth on heavily — Shimei doubles 
his speed — but 'tis the contrary way ; he flies 
like the wind over a sandy desert, and the place 



/^ 



THE CHARACTER OF SHIMEI 

thereof shall know it no more stay, 

Shimei! *tis your patron your firiend 

your benefactor ; 'tis the man who has 

raised you from the dunghill 'tis all 

one to Shimei: Shimei is the barometer of 
every man's fortune ; marks the rise and £Edl 
of i^with aU the variations from scorching hot 
to freezing cold upon his countenance, that the 

smile will admit of. Is a cloud upon thy 

affairs? — see — it hangs over Shimei's brow 

Hast thou been spoken for to the king 

or the captain of the host without success? 

look not into the court-calendar 

the vacancy is filled up in Shimei's fBce — Art 
thou in debt? — though not to Shimei — no 

matter the worst officer of the law shall 

not be more insolent 

What then, Shimei, is the guilt of poverty 
so black — is it of so general a concern, that 
thou and all thy family must rise up as one 
n»n to «p,».ch it!- when it lost „e,ything 
— did it lose the right to pity too ? or did he 
who maketh poor as well as maketh rich, strip 
it of its natural powers to mollify the hearts 
and supple the temper of your race ? — Trust 
me, ye have much to answer for; it is this 
treatment which it has ever met with from 



SERMON XVI 

spirits like yours, which has gradually taught 
the world to look upon it as the greatest of 

evils, and shun it as the worst disgrace 

and what is it, I beseech you what is it 

that man will not do, to keep clear of so sore 
an imputation and punishment ? — is it not to 
fly from this, that he rises early — late taka 
rest; — aitd eats the bread of carefulness?— 
that he plots, contrives — swears — lies — shuf- 
fles — puts on all shapes — tries all garments 
wears them, with this, or that side out- 
ward just as it favours his escape. 

They who have considered our nature, 
affirm, that shame and disgrace are two of the 
most insupportable evils of human life: the 
courage and spirits of many have mastered 
other misfortunes, and home themselves up 
against them ; but the wisest and best of souls 
have not been a match for these ; and we have 
many a tragical instance on record, what 
greater evils have been run into merely to 
avoid this one. 

Without this tax of infamy, poverty, with 
all the burdens it la3rs upon our flesh — so 
long as it is virtuous, could never break the 
spirits of a man ; all its hunger, and pain, and 
nakedness, are nothing to it, they have some 



THE CHARACTER OF SHIMEI 

counterpoise of good ; and besides they are 
directed by Providence, and must be submitted 
to : but these are afflictions not from the hand 
of God or Nature — "^ar they do come forth of 
the DUST, and most properly may be said to 
tprififf out of the ground, and this is the rea- 
son they lay such stress upon our patience, — 
and in the end, create such a distrust of the 
world, as makes us look up — and pray. Let 
me fall into thy hatuls, O God f but let me not 
faJl into the hands of men.^ 

Agreeable to this was the advice of EUiphas 
to Job in the day of his 



" acqumvt thyself said he, now voith God : — 
indeed his poverty seemed to have left him 
no other: the swords of the Sabeans had 

frightened them away all but a few 

friends ; and of what kind they were, the very 

proverb, of Job's comforters says enough. 

It is an instance which gives one great con- 
cern for human nature, ** That a man, who al- 
ways wept for him who was in trouble ; 

who never saw any perish for want of clothing; 
— who never suffered the stranger to lodge in 
the street^ but opened his door to the traveller ; 

that a man of so good a character, — 

^ that he never caused the eyes of the widow to 



SERMON XVI 

foil, — or had eaten fas morsel by Mmseif ahtUt 
and the fatherless had not eaten thereof;"^ 
that such a man, the moment he fell into pov- 
erty, should have occasion to cry out for quai^ 
ter, — Have mercy upon me, O my friends! 

far the hand of God has touched me. 

Gentleness and humanity (one would think) 
would melt the hardest heart and charm the 
fiercest spirit ; bind up the most violent hand, 
and still the most abusive tongue ; — but the 
experiment failed in a stronger instance of him, 
whose meat and drink it was to do us good; 
and in pursuit of which, whose whole life was 
a continued scene of kindness and of insult^ 
for which we must go back to the same expla- 
nation, with which we set out, — and that is, 

the scandal of poverty. 

" This fellow, we know not whence he is." 

was the popular ciy of one part ; and 

with those who seemed to know better, the 
query did not lessoi the disgrace : — Is ncA 
this the carpenter, the son of Maiy? — ai 

Mary ; great God of Israel I What I — 

of the meanest of thy people 1 (for he had 
not regarded the low estate of his handmaiden) 
— and of the poorest t too (for she had not 
a lamb to offer, but was purified as Moses 



VJ 



«i 



i 



1 



I 




* J I 



=•?••■ 



CHARACTER OF SHIMEI 

directed in such a case, by the oblation of a 
turtle-dove. ) 

That the Saviour of their nation could be 
poor, and not have where to lay his head, — 
was a crime never to be forgiven ; and though 
the purity of his doctrine, and the works he 
had done in his support, were stronger argu- 
ments on its side, than his humiliation could 
be against it, yet the offence still re- 
mained ; — they looked for the redemption of 
Israel ; but they would have it only in those 
dreams of power which filled their imagi- 
nation. 

Ye who weigh the worth of all things only 
in the goldsmith's balance I — was this religion 
for you ? — a religion whose appearance was 
not great and splendid, — but looked thin and 
meagre, and whose principles and promises 
showed more like the curses of the law, than 
its blessings : for they called for suf- 
ferings, and promised little but persecutions. 

In truth, it is not easy for tribulation or 
distress, for nakedness or famine, to make 
many coverts out of pride ; or reconcile a 
worldly heart to the scom and reproaches, 
which were sure to be the portion of every one 
who believed a mystery so discredited by the 



SERMON XVI 

world, and so unpalatable to all its pasaons 
and pleasures. 

But to bring this sermon to its proper J 
conclusion. I 

If Astrea or Justice never finally took ha 
leave of the world, till the day that poverty 
first became ridiculous, it is matter of consola- 
tion, that the God of Justice is ever over us ; 
— that whatever outrages the lowness of our 
condition may be exposed to, from a mean and j 

undisceming world, that we walk in the I 

presence of the greatest and most generous of f 
beings, who is infinitely removed from cruelty 
and straitness of mind, and all those little and 
illiberal passions, with which we hourly insult 
each other. 

The worst part of mankind are not always 

to be conquered — - but if they are 'tis 

by the imitation of these qualities which must 

do it : — 'tis true as I have shown 

they may fail ; but still all is not lost, 

for if we conquer not the world in the 

v^y attempts to do it, we shall at least ecu- 
quer ourselves, and lay the foundatioa of our 
peace (where it ought to be) within our oun 
hearts. 



SERMON XVII 

THE CASE OF HEZEKIAH AND THE 

MESSENGERS * 

And ha Mid, What have they aeen in thina honsa f and Hasekiah 
aaawarady All tha things that are in mj honsa hava thaj seen ; 
than la nothing amongst all mj traasores that I have not shown 
tham. — S Kdigs xx. 16. 



■A 



ND where was the harm, you'll say, 
in all this? 
An eastern prince, the son of 
Baladine, had sent messengers with presents as 
fiEur as from Babylon, to congratulate Hezekiah 
upon the recovery from his sickness ; and Hez- 
eldah, who was a good prince, acted consist- 
«itly with himself: he received and entertained 
the men^ and hearkened unto them^ and before 
he sent them away, he courteously showed 
them all that was worth a stranger's curiosity 
in his house and his kingdom and in 

* Preached before bis Excellency the Earl of Herttoro, 
at Paris, 1764. 



SERMON XVII 

this, seemed only to have discharged himself of 
■what urbanity or the etiquette of courts might 
require. Notwithstanding this, in the %"erse 
which immediately follows the text, we find he 
had done amiss ; and as a punishment for it, 
that all his riches, which his forefathers had laid 
up in store unto that day, were threatened to 

be carried away in triumph to Babylon, 

the very place from whence the messengers 
had come. 

A hard return 1 and what his behaviour does 
not seem to have deserved. To set this matter 
in a clear hght, it will be necessary to enlarge 

upon the whole story, the reflections 

which will arise out of it, as we go along, may 

help us at least, I hope they will be of 

use on their own account- 
After the miraculous defeat of the Assyrians. 
we read in the beginning of this chapter, that 
Hezekiah was sick even unto death ; and that 
God sends the prophet Isaiah, with the unwel- 
come message, that he should set Ms house m 
order, for that he should die, and not live. 

There are many instances of men, who have 
received such news with the greatest ease of 
mind, and even entertained the thoughts of it 
with smiles upon their countenances, • — and 



HEZEKIAH AND THE MESSENGERS 

this, either irom strength of spirits and the 
natural cheerfulness of their temper, — or that 
they knew the world, and cared not for it, 
or expected a better — ■ — — yet thou- 
sands of good men, with all the helps of phi- 
losophy, and against all the assurances of a 
well-spent life, that the change must be to 
their account, — upon the approach of death 
have still leaned towards this world, and 
wanted spirits and resolution to bear the shock 
of a separation irom it for ever. 

This, in some measure, seemed to have been 
Hezekiah's case ; for though he liad walked 
before God in truth, and with a perfect heart, 
and had done that which was good in his sight, 

yet we find that the hasty summons 

afflicted him greatly ; that upon the de- 
livery of the message he wept sore ; that 

he turned his face to the wall, perhaps 

for the greater secrecy of his devotion, and that, 
by withdrawing himself thus from all external 
objects, he might offer up his prayer to his 
God, with greater and more fer\'ent attention. 

And he prayed, and said, O Lord I 

I beseech thee remember O Hezekiah I 

How couldst thou fear that God had forgotten 
thee? or, bow couldst thou doubt of his remem- 



SERMON XVII 

brance of thy integrity, when he called tbee 
to receive its recompense? 

But here it appears of what materials man is 

made : he pursues happiness and yet is 

so content with misery, that he would wander 

for ever in this dark vale of it, and say, 

'* // is good. Lord! to be here, and to build tab- 
ernacles of rest : " and so long as we are clothed 
with flesh, and nature has so great a share 
within us, it is no wonder if that part claims its 
right, and pleads for the sweetness of life, not- 
withstanding all its cares and disappointments. 

This natural weakness, no doubt, had its 
weight in Hezekiah's earnest prayer for life: 
and yet fixim the success it met with, and the 
immediate change of God's purpose thereupon, 
it is hard to imagine, but that it must hare 
been accompanied with some meritorious and 
more generous motive ; and if we suppose, as 
some have done, that he turned his &ce 
towards the wall, because that part of his 
chamber looked towards the temple, the care 
of whose preservation lay next his heart, we 
may consistently enough give this sense to his 
prayer. 

" O God I remember how I have walked 
before thee in truth ; how much I have 



HEZEKIAH AND THE MESSENGERS 

done to rescue thy religion from error and 

fiedsehood ; thou knowest that the eyes 

of the world are fixed upon me, as one that 
hath forsaken their idolatry, and restored thy 

worship; that I stand in the midst of a 

crooked and corrupt generation, which looks 
through all my actions, and watches all events 
which happen to me : if now they shall see me 
snatched away in the midst of my days and 
service, How will thy great name sufier in my 
extinction ? Will not the heathen say. This 

is to serve the God of Israeli How 

fidthfully did Hezekiah walk before him? — 
What enemies did he bring upon himself, in 
too warmly promoting his worship ? and now 
when the hour of sickness and distress came 
upon him, and he most wanted the aid of his 
God : — behold how he was forsaken 1 " 

It is not unreasonable to ascribe some such 
pious and more disinterested motive to Heze- 
kiah's desire of life, from the issue and success 

of his prayer : for it came to pass, before 

Isaiah had gone out into the middle courts that 
the word of the Lord came to Aim, sayings Turn 
again and tell Hezekiah I have heard his 
prayer^ I have seen his tears ; and behold I mil 
heal Mm. 



SERMON XVII 

It was upon this occasion, as we read in the 
I2th verse of this chapter, that Baradock-bala- 
dan, son of Baladine king of Babylon, sent 
letters and a present unto Hezekiah : he had 
heard the fame of his sickness and recovery ; 
for as the Chaldeans were great searchers into 
the secrets of nature, especially into the mo- 
tions of the celestial bodies, in all probability 
they had taken notice, at that distance, of the 
strange appearance of the shadow's returning 
ten degrees backwards upon their dials, and 
had inquired and learned upon what account, 
and in whose favour, such a sign was given ; 
so that this astronomical miracle, besides the 
political motive which it would suggest of 
courting such a favourite of heaven, had been 
sufficient by itself to have led a curious people 
as far as Jerusalem, that they might see Uie 
man for whose sake the sun had forsook his 
course. 

And here we see how hard it is to stand Uie 
shock of prosperity, and how much tnur a 
proof we give of our strength in that extzeme 
of life, than in the other. 

In all t^e trials of adversity, we find that 
Hezekiah behaved well, nothing un- 
manned him : when besi^ed by the Assyr* 



HEZEKIAH AND THE MESSENGERS 

ian host, which shut hini up in Jerusalem, 
and tlireatened his destruction, — he stood un- 
shaken, and depended upon God's succour. 

When cast down upon his bed of 

sickness, and threatened with death, he meekly 

turned his face towards the wall, wept 

and prayed, and depended upon Gou's mercy : 
— but no sooner does prosperity return upon 
him, and the messengers from a far country 
come to pay the flattering homage due to his 
greatness, and the extraordinary' felicity of his 
life, but he turns giddy, and sinks under the 
weight of his good fortune, and with a transport 
unbecoming a wise man upon it, 'tis said, he 
hearkened unto the men, and showed thera all 
the house of liis precious things, tlie silver and 
the gold, the spices and the precious ointments, 
and all the house of his armour, and all that was 
found in his treasures ; that there was nothing in 
his house, nor in his dominions, that Hezekiah 
showed them not : for though it is not expressly 
said here (though it is in the parallel passage in 
Chronicles), — nor is he charged by the prophet 
that he did this out of vanity and a weak trans- 
port of ostentation ; yet as we are sure 

God could not be offended but where there 
wras a real crime, we might reasonably con- 




SERMON XVII 

dude that this was his, and that he who 
searches into the heart of man, beheld that his 
was corrupted with the blessings he had given 
him, and that it was just to make what was 
the occasion of his pride, become the instru- 
ment of his punishment, by decreeing, that all 
the riches he had laid up in store until that day, 
should be carried away in triumph to Babylon, 
the very place from whence the messengers had 
come who had been eye-witnesses of his folly. 

" O Hezekiah I How couldst thou provoke 
God to bring this judgment upon thee ? How 
could thy spirit, all meek and gentle as it was, 
have ever feJlen into this snare? Were thy 
treasures rich as the earth — What ! was thy 
heart so vain as to be lifted up therewith ? 
Was not all that was valuable in the world — 
nay, was not heaven itself almost at thy com- 
mand whilst thou wast humble? and. How 
was it, that thou couldst barter away all this, 
for what was Ughter than a bubble, and dese- 
crate an action so fiiU of courtesy and kindness 
as thine appeared to be, by suffering it to take 
its rise from so polluted a fountain ? " 

There is scarce anything which the heart 
more unwillingly bears, than an analysis of 
this kind. 



HEZEKIAH AND THE MESSENGERS 

We are a strange compound ; and something 
foreign from what charity would suspect, so 
eternally twists itself into what we do, that not 
only in momentous concerns, where interest 
lists under it all the powers of disguise, — but 

even in the most indifferent of our actions 

not worth a fallacy by force of habit, 

we continue it: so that whatever a man is 

about, observe him, he stands 

armed inside and out with two motives; an 

ostensible one for the world, and another 

which he reserves for his own private use ; — 
this, you may say, the world has no concern 
with : it might have been so ; but by obtrud- 
ing the wrong motive upon the world, and 
stealing from it a character, instead of win- 
ning one ; we give it a right, and a 

temptation along with it, to inquire into the 
affair. 

The motives of the one for doing it, are 
often little better than the other for deserving 
it. Let us see if some social virtue may not 
be extracted from the errors of both the one 
and the other. 

Vanity bids all her sons be generous and 

brave, and her daughters chaste and 

courteous. But why do we want her 



SERMON XVII 

instructions ? Ask the comedian who is 

taught a part he feels not 

Is it that the principles of religion w&Dt 
strength, or that the rea] passion for wh&t 
is good and worthy will not cany us high 

enough God I thou knowest they cany 

us too high we want not to be, — but 

to seem 

Look out of your door, — take notice of 
that man : see what disquieting, intriguing, and 
shifting, he is content to go through, merely 
to be thought a man of plain dealing ; — three 
grains of honesty would save him all this 
trouble alas 1 he has them not. 

Behold a second, under a show of piety hid- 
ing the impurities of a debauched life: ■ 

he is just entering the house of God : r-r_ 

would he was more pure — or less pious:— 
but then he could not gain his point. 

Observe a third going on almost in the same 
track, with what an inflexible sanctity of de- 
portment he sustains himself as he advances : — 

every line in his fece writes abstinence ; 

every stride looks like a check upon his de- 
sires : see, I beseech you, how he is cloaked up 
with sermons, prayers, and sacraments ; and so 
bemuffled with the extonals of religicra. that 



HEZEKIAH AND THE MESSENGERS 

he has not a hand to spare for a worldly pur- 
pose; — he has armour at least — Why does 
he put it on ? Is there no serving God with- 
out all this ? Must the garb of reUgion be ex- 
tended so wide to the danger of its rending ? 
— Yes truly, or it will not hide the secret 

and, What is that ? 

That the saint has no reUgion at alL 



But here comes Geneeosity; giving 

not to a decayed artist but to 

the arts and sciences themselves. — See, — he 
builds not a chamber in the wall apart for the 
prophet; but whole schools and colleges for 
those who come after. Lord I how they 

wiU magnify his namel- 'tis in capitals 

already ; the first — the highest, in the gilded 
rent-roll of every hospital and asylum. 



One honest tear shed in private over 

the unfortunate, is worth it alL 

What a problematic set of creatures does 
simulation make us I Who would divine, that 
all that anxiety and concern, so visible in the 
airs of one-half of that great assembly, should 
arise from nothing else, but that the other 
half of it may think them to be men of con- 
sequence, penetration, parts, and conduct? — 
What a noise among the claimants about it. 

979 



SERMON XVII 

Behold HuTniUty, out of mere pride, 

and honesty, ahnost out of knaver)'; 

Cftastity, never once in harm's way, and 

courage, like a Spanish soldier upon an Italian 
stage — a bladder full of wind. — Hark I that, 

— the sound of that trumpet, let Dot 

my soldier run, 'tis some good Chris- 
tian giving alms. O, Pitv, thou gentlest of 
human passions ! soft and tender are thy 
notes, and ill accord they with so loud an 
instrument. 

Thus sometimes jars, and will for ever jar 
in these cases : imposture is all dissonance, let 
what master soever of it undertake the part: 
let him harmonise and modulate it as he may. 
one tone will contradict another ; and whilst 
we have ears to hear, we shall distinguish it; 
'tis truth only which is consistent and ever in 
harmony with itself: it sits upon our lips, like 
the natural notes of some melodies, ready to 

drop out, whether we will or no; it 

racks no invention to let ourselves alone, and 
needs fear no critic to have the same excd- 
lency in the heart, which appears in the 
action. 

It is a pleasing allusion the Scripture nukes 
use of in calling us sometimes a house, and 



HEZEKIAH AND THE MESSENGERS 

sometiines a temple, according to the more 
or less exalted qualities of the spiritual guest 
which is lodged within us : whether this is the 
precise ground of the distinction, I will not 
affirm; but thus much may be said, that, if 
we are temples, 'tis truth and singleness of 
heart which must make the dedication: 'tis 
this which must first distinguish them from 
the unhallowed pile, where dirty tricks and 
impositions are practised by the host upon 
the traveller, who tarries but for a moment, 
and returns not again. 

We all take notice, how close and reserved 
people are ; but we do not take notice, at the 
same time, that every one may have some- 
thing to conceal, as well as ourselves; and 
that we are only marking the distances and 
taking the measiu*es of self-defence from each 
other in the very instances we complain of: 
this is so true, that there is scarce any char- 
acter so rare, as a man of real open and gen- 
erous integrity, who carries his heart in 

his hand, who says the thing he thinks, 

and does the thing he pretends. Though no 
one can dislike the character, — yet. Discre- 
tion generally shakes her head, — and the 
world soon lets him into the reason. 

981 



SERMON XVII 

" Ok that I had in the xvilderness a lodging 
of wayfariiig men / that I viight leave such a 
people, and go from them.'" Where is the man 
of a nice sense of truth and strong feelings, 
from whom the duplicity of the world has not 
at one time or other wrung the same wish; 
and where lies the wilderness to which some 
one has not fled, from the same melancholy 
impulse? 

Thus much for those who give occasion to 

be thought ill of; let us say a word or 

two unto those who take it 

But to avoid all commonplace cant as much 

as I can on this head, 1 will forbear 

to say, because I do not tliink it, that 'tis a 
breach of Christian charity to think or speak 
evil of our neighbour, &c. 

We cannot avoid it : our opinions 

must follow the evidence ; and we are ^a- 
petually in such engagements and situations, 
that 'tis our duty to speak what our opinions 
are — but God forbid that this ever should be 
done but from its best motive — the sense of 
what is due to virtue, governed by discretion 
and the utmost fellow-feeling : were we to go 
on otherwise, be^nning with the great broad 
cloak of hypocrisy, and so down throu£^ all 



/^ 



HEZEEIAH AND THE MESSENGERS 

its little trimmings and facings, tearing away 

without mercy all that look'd seemly, 

we should leave but a tatter d world of it. 

But I confine what I have to say to a char- 
acter less equivocal, and which takes up too 
much room in the world : it is that of those, 
who from a general distrust of all that looks 
disinterested, finding nothing to blame in an 
action, and perhaps much to admire in it, — 
immediately fSsdl foul upon its motives : Does 
Job serve God for rumght ? What a vile in- 
sinuation! Besides, the question was not, 
whether Job was a rich man or a poor man ? — 
but, whether he was a man of integrity or no ? 
and the appearances were strong on his side : 
indeed it might have been otherwise ; it was 
possible Job might be insincere, and the devil 
took the advantage of the die for it. 

It is a bad picture, and done by a terrible 
master, and yet we are always copying it 
Does a man from a real conviction of heart 

forsake his vices ? the position is not to 

be allowed, no ; his vices have forsaken 

hiuL 

Does a pure virgin fear God and say her 
prayers: she is in her cUmacteric. 

Does humanity clothe and educate the un- 

983 






SERMON XVII 

blown orphan ? Poverty I thou hast no 

jenealogies : See ! is he not the father 

of the child ? Thus do we rob heroes of the 
best part of their glory — their virtue. Take 
away the motive of the act, you take away all 
that is worth having in it; — wrest it unto 
ungenerous ends, you load the virtuous man 

who did it with infamy ; undo it all 

— I beseech you : ive him back his hon- 
our, restore e jewel you have taken 

from him — replat him in the eye of the 

world 

it is too late. 

It is punful to utter the reproaches which 

should come in here. 1 will trust them 

with yourselves : in coming from that quarter, 
they will more naturally produce such fruits 

as will not set your teeth on edge for 

they will be the fruits of love and goodwill, 
to the praise of God and the happiness of the 
wwld, which I wish. 



SERMON XVIII 

THE LEVITE AND HIS CONCUBINE 

And It came to p«M in thote dajB, when there was no king in 
lamely that there was a certain Leyite sojourning on the side of 
Mount ^hzaim, who took onto him a ooncubine. 

JuDQis xiz. 1, 2, 3. 



A 



CONCUBINE!— but the text 
accounts for it, for in those days 
there was no kmg in IsraeU and the Levite, 
you will say, like every other man in it, did 

what was right in his own eyes, and so, 

you may add, did his concubine too, — for 
she played the whore against him^ and went 
away. 



Then shame and grief go with her, 

and wherever she seeks a shelter, may the 
hand of Justice shut the door against 
herl 

Not so ; for she went unto her father's house 
in Bethlehem-judah, and was with him four 
whole months. Blessed interval for med- 
itation upon the fickleness and vanity of this 

9S5 



SERMON XVIII 

world and its pleasures 1 I see the holy man 

upon his knees, with hands compressed 

to his bosom, and with uplifted eyes, thanking 
heaven that the object which had so long 
shared his affections, was fled 

The text gives a different picture of his sit- 
uation ; for he arose and -went after her to 
speak friendly to her, and to bring her bade 
again, having his servant mth him, and a couple 
of asses ; and she brought him unto her father's 
house ; and when the father of the datnsel saw 
him, he rejoiced to meet him. 

A most sentimental group ! you'll 

say : and so it is, my good commentator, the 
world talks of everything : give but the out- 
lines of a story, let Spleen or Prudery 

snatch the pencil, and they will finish it with 
so many hard strokes, and with so dirty s 
colouring, that Catidour and Couriesy will ^ 
in torture as they look at it. — Gentle and 
virtuous spirits 1 ye who know not what it is 
to be rigid interpreters, but of your own fidl- 

ings, to you T address myself the 

unhired advocates for the conduct of the mis- 
guided, Whence is it that the world is 

not more jealous of your office ? How often 
must ye repeat it, " That such a one's doing 



THE LEVITE AND HIS CONCUBINE 

so or so" is not sufficient evidence by 

itself to overthrow the accused ? That our 
actions stand surrounded with a thousand cir- 
cumstances which do not present themselves at 
first sight : — that the first springs and motives 
which impelled the unfortunate, lie deeper still ; 

and, that of the millions which every 

hour are arraigned, thousands of them may 
have err'd, merely from the head^ and been 
actually outwitted into evil ; and even when 
firom the heart, — that the difficulties and 

temptations under which they acted, 

the force of the passions, the suita- 
bleness of the object, and the many struggles 

of virtue before she fell, may be so 

many appeals from justice to the judgment- 
seat of pity. 

Here then let us stop a moment, and give 
the story of the Levite and his Concubine a 
second hearing : like all others, much of it 
depends upon the telling ; and as the Scripture 
has left us no kind of comment upon it, 'tis a 
story on which the heart cannot be at a loss 
for what to say, or the imagination for what to 

suppose the danger is, humanity may 

say too muck 

And it came to pass in those days^ when there 



SERMON XVTII 

was Tio king in Israel, thai a certain Lexite 
sqjourmng on the side of mount Ephraim, took 
unto himself a Concubine. 

O Abraham, thou father of the faithful ! if 

this was wrong, Why didst thou set so 

ensnaring an example before the eyes of thy 
descendants ? and. Why did the God of Abra- 
ham, the Cod of Isaac and Jacob, bless so 
often the seed of such intercourses, and prom- 
ise to multiply and make princes come out of 
them? 

God can dispense with his own laws ; and 
accordingly we find the holiest of the patri- 
archs, and others in Scripture, whose hearts 
cleaved most unto God, accommodating them- 
selves as well as they could to the dispensation : 
that Abraham had Hagar ; — that Jacob, be- 
sides his two wives, Rachel and Leah, took 
also unto him Zilpah and Bilhah, from whom 
many of the tribes descended : — that Darid 
had seven wives and ten concubines ; — Reho- 

boam, sixty ; and that, in whatever cases 

it became reproachable, it seemed not so much 
the thing itself as the abuse of it, which made 
it so : this was remarkable in that of Solomcai, 
whose excess became an insult upon the priv- 
il^es of mankind ; ioc by the same pluk of 



r 



THE LEVITE AND HIS CONCUBINE 

luxury, which made it necessary to have forty 
thousand stalls of horses, — he had unfortu- 
nately miscalculated his other wants, and so 
had seven hundred wives, and three hundred 
concubines. 

Wise deluded man 1 was it not that 

thou madest some amends for thy bad practice, 
by thy good preaching, what would become 

of theel three hundred but let us 

turn aside, I beseech you, from so bad a 
stumbling-block. 

The Levite had but one. The Hebrew 
word imports a woman a concubine, or a wife 
a concubine, to distinguish her from the more 
infamous species, who came under the roofs of 
the licentious without principle. Our annota- 
tors tell us, that in Jewish (economics^ these 
difier'd little from the wife, except in some 
outward ceremonies and stipulations, but 
agreed with her in all the true essences of 
marriage, and gave themselves up to the hus- 
band (for so he is called), with faith plighted, 
with sentiments, and with affection. 

Such a one the Levite wanted to share his 
solitude, and fill up that uncomfortable blank 
in the heart in such a situation ; for notwith- 
standing all we meet with in books, in many of 




SERMON XVIIl 

which, no doubt, there are a good many band- 
some things said upon the sweets of retire- 
ment, &c yet still "it is not good for 

man to be alone: " nor can all which the cold- 
hearted pedant stuns our ears with upon the 
subject, ever give one answer of satisfaction to 
the mind ; in the midst of the loudest vaunt- 
ings of philosophy, Nature will have her yearn- 
ings for society and friendship ; a good 

heart wants some object to be kind to 

and the best part of our blood, and the purest 
of our spirits, suffer most under the destitution. 

Let the torpid monk seek heaven comfort- 
less and alone. God speed him 1 For 

my own part, I fear I should never so find the 

way : let me be wise and reUgious but 

let me be Man : wherever thy Providence 
places me, or whatever be the road 1 take to 

get to thee give me some companion 

in my journey, be it only to remark to. 
How our shadows lengthen as the sun goes 
down ; — to whom I may say. How fresh is 
the face of nature ! How sweet the flowers 
of the field ! How dehcious are these fruits ! 

Alas 1 with bitter herbs, like his passover, 
did the Levite eat them : for as they thus 
walked the path of life together, she 



THE LEVITE AND HIS CONCUBINE 

wantonly tum'd aside unto another, and fled 
from him. 

It is the mild and quiet half of the world, 
who are generally outraged and borne down 
by the other half of it : but in this they have 
the advantage ; whatever be the sense of their 
wrongs, that pride stands not so watchfid a 
sentinel over their forgiveness, as it does in 
the breasts of the fierce and froward : we 
should all of us, I believe, be more forgiving 
than we are, would the world but give us 
leave; but it is apt to impose its ill-ofiiees 
in remissions, especially of this kind: the 
truth is, it has its laws, to which the heart is 
not always a party ; and acts so like an unfeel- 
ing engine in all cases without distinction, that 
it requires aU the firmness of the most settled 
humanity to bear up against it. 

Many a bitter conflict would the Levite 
have to sustain within himself — his Concu- 
bine — and the sentiments of his tribe, upon 

the wrong done him : much matter for 

pleading and many an embarrassing ac- 

count on all sides : in a period of four whole 
months, every passion would take its empire 
by turns ; and in the ebbs and flows of the less 
unfriendly ones. Pity would find some mo- 

991 



SERMON XVIII 




- Religion herself 



ments to be heard - 

would not be silent, CHARixy would 

have much to say, and thus attun'd, evray 

object he beheld on the borders of mount 

Ephraira, every grot and grove be 

pass'd by, would solicit the recollection of 
former kindness, and awaken an advocate in 
her behalf, more powerful than them alt 

'* 1 grant 1 grant it all " — he would 

cry, — " 'tis foul I 'tis faithless 1 but. 

Why is the door of mercy to be shut for ever 
against it? and, Why is it to be the only sad 
crime that the injured may not remit, or rea- 
son or ima^nation pass over without a scar ? 

Is it the blackest? In what catalogue 

of human offences is it so marked ? or, Is it, 
that of all others 'tis a blow most grievous to 

be endured ? the heart cries out. It is 

so : but let me ask my own, What passions 
are they which give edge and force to this 
weapon which has struck me ? and, whether 
it is not my own pride, as much as my virtues, 
which at this moment excites the greatest part 
of that intolerable anguish in the wound which 
I am laying to her charge ? But, merciful 
heaven ! was it otherwise, why is an unhappy 
creature of thine to be persecuted by me with 



THE LEVITE AND HIS CONCUBINE 

80 much cnid revenge and rancorous despite 
as my first transport called for ? Have faults 

no extenuations ? Makes it nothing, that 

when the trespass was committed, she forsook 
the partner of her guilt, and fled directly to 
her father's house ? And is there no difference 
betwixt one propensely going out of the road 
and continuing there, through depravity of 

will and a hapless wanderer straying 

by delusion, and wuily treading back her 

steps? Sweet is the look of sorrow for 

an offence, in a heart determined never to 

conunit it more I Upon that altar only 

could I offer up my wrongs. Cruel is the 
punishment which an ingenious mind will 
take upon itself, from the remorse of so hard 

a trespass agamst me, and if that wiU 

not balance the account, just God I let 

me forgive the rest Mercy well becomes the 

heart of all thy creatures, but most 

of thy servant, a Licvite, who offers up so 
many daily sacrifices to thee, for the trans- 
gressions of thy people. 

— *'But to little purpose, he would add, 
have I served at thy altar, where my business 
was to sue for mercy, had I not leamt to 
practise it.** 



1 

I 



SERMON XVIII 

Peace and happiness rest upon the head and 
heart of every man who can thus think 1 

So he arose and went after her, to speak 
friendly to her — in the original — "to speak 

to her heart" ; to apply to their former 

endearments, — and to ask, How she could 
be so unkind to him, and so very mikind to 
herself? 

Even the upbraidings of the quiet 

and relenting are sweet : not like the striv- 
ings of the fierce and inexorable, who bite and 
devour all who have thwarted them in their 
way ; — but they are calm and courteous, like 
the spirit which watches over their character ; 
How could such a temper woo the damsel, 
and not bring her back ? or. How could the 
father of the damsel, in such a scene, have a 
heart open to any impressions but those men- 
tioned in the text ; That when he iow 

him, he rejoiced to meet him ; urged his 

stay irom day to day, with that most irresisti- 
ble of all invitations, — " Comfort thy heart, 
and tarry all niffhi, aTid let thine heart be 
merry." 

If Mercy and Truth thus met together in 
settling this account. Love would surely be of 
the party : great — great is its power in cement- 



THE LEVITE AND HIS CONCUBINE 

ing what has been broken, and wipuig out 
wrongs even from the memory itself: and so 

it was for the Levite arose up, and 

with him his Concubine and his servant, and 
they departed. 

It serves no purpose to pursue the story 
further; the catastrophe is horrid, and would 
lead us beyond the particular purpose for 
which I have enlarged upon thus much of it, 
and that is, to discredit rash judgment, and 
illustrate frt>m the manner of conducting this 
drama, the courtesy which the dramatis persotuB 
of every other piece may have a right to. Al- 
most one-half of our time is spent in telling 
and hearing evil of one another — some un- 
fortunate knight is always upon the stage 

and every hour brings forth something 

strange and terrible to fiU up our discourse 
and our astonishment, ** How people can be 
so foolish I " and 'tis well if the compli- 
ment ends there ; so that there is not a social 
virtue for which there is so constant a demand, 
— or, consequently, so well worth cultivating, 
as that which opposes this unfriendly current 

many and rapid are the springs which 

feed it, and various and sudden, God knows, 
are the gusts which render it unsafe to us in 

99S 



SERMON XVIII 

this short passage of our life : let us make the 
discourse as serviceable as we can, by tracing 
some of the most remarkable of them up to 
their source. 

And, first, there is one miserable inlet to 
this evil, and which, by the way, if speculation 
is supposed to precede practice, may have been 
derived, for aught I know, from some of our 
busiest inquirers after nature, — and that is, 
when with more zeal than knowledge we 
account for phenomena, before we are sure of 
their existence. —It is not the Jiianner of the 
Romans to condemn any man to death, (much 

less to be martyred), said Festus; and 

doth our law judge any man before it hear htm^ 
and know what he doth? cried Nicodemus; 
and he that answereth, or detennineth, a matter . 

before he has Jieard it, it is folly, anda 

ihame unto him. — We are generally in su<^ a 
haste to make our own decrees, that we pass 

over the justice of these, and then the 

scene is so changed by it, that 'tis our own 
folly only which is real, and that of the accused, 
which is imaginary: thro' too much predpi- 
tancy it will happen so; and then the jest 
is spoil'd — or we have criticised our own 
shadow. 



THE LEVITE AND HIS CONCUBINE 

A second way is, when the process goes on 
more orderly, and we begin with getting infor- 
mation but do it from those suspected 

evidences, against which our Saviour warns 
us, when he bids us ** not to judge according to 

appearance:'' in truth, *tis behind these 

that most of the things which bhnd human 

judgment lie concealed, and, on the 

contrary, there are many things which appear to 

be, — which are not : Christ came eating 

and drinking^ — behold a wine-bibber! 

he sat with sinners he was their friend : 

in many cases of which kind, Truths 

like a modest matron, scorns art — and dis- 
dains to press herself forward into the circle to 

be seen : ground sufficient for Suspicion 

to draw up the libel for Malice to give 

the torture, — or rash Judgment to start up 
and pass a final sentence. 

A third way is, when the facts which denote 
misconduct are less disputable, but are com- 
mented upon with an asperity of censure, 
which a humane or a gracious temper would 
spare : an abhorrence against what is criminal, 
is so fair a plea for this, and looks so like virtue 
in the face, that in a sermon against rash judg- 
ment, it would be unseasonable to call it in 

»7 



SERMON XVni 

question, and yet, I declare, in the full- ] 

est torrent of exclamations which the guilty 
can deserve, that the simple apostrophe, " who 
made me to differ ? why was not I an exam- 
ple ? " would touch my heart more, and give . 
me a better earnest of the commentators, ^f 
than the most corrosive period you could add. 
The punishment of the unhappy, I fear, is 

enough without it and were it not, 

'tis piteous, the tongue of a Christian* 

whose religion is all candour and courtesy, ] 
should be made the executioner. We find in 
the discourse between Abraham and the rich 
man, though the one was in heaven, and the 
other in hell, yet still the patriarch treated him 
with mild language : — Son ! Son, remember 
that Oum in thy Ufetivw, &c. — and in the dis- 
pute about the body of Moses, between the 
Archangel and the devil (himsdf), St. Jude 
tells us, he durst not bring a railing accusation 
against him ; — 'twas imworthy his high char- 
acter, and, indeed, might have beai 

impohtic too ; for if he had (as one of our 
divines notes upon the passage), the devil had 

been too hard for him at railing, 'twas 

his own weapon, and the basest spirits, 

after his example, are the most exp^: at it. 



s 



THE LEVITE AND HIS CONCUBINE 

This leads me to the observation of a fourth 
cruel inlet into this evil, and that is, the desire 
of being thou^t men of wit and parts, and the 
vain expectation of coming honestly by the 
title, by shrewd and sarcastic reflections upon 
whatever is done in the world. This is set- 
ting up trade upon the broken stock of other 
people's failings, -perhaps their misfortunes: 

SO, much good may it do them with what 

honour they can get, the furthest ex- 
tent of which, I think, is, to be praised, as we 
do some sauces, with tears in our eyes : It is a 
commerce most illiberal : and as it requires no 
vast capital, too many embark in it, and so 
long as there are bad passions to be gratified, 

and bad heads to judge, with such it may 

pass for wit, or at least, like some vile relation, 
whom all the family is ashamed of, claim kin- 
dred with it, even in better companies. What- 
ever be the degree of its affinity, it has helped 
to give wit a bad name, as if the main essence 
of it was satire : certainly there is a difference 
between Bitterness and Saltness^ — that is, 

between the malignity and the festivity 

of wit, the one is a mere quickness of 

apprehension, void of humanity, — and is a 
talent of the devil ; the other comes from the 

999 



SERMON XVIII 

Father of spirits, so pure and abstracted from 
persons, that willingly it hurts no man : or if 
it touches upon an indecorum, 'tis with that 
dexterity of true genius, which enables him 
rather to gi ve a new colour to the absurdity, and 

let it pass. He may smile at the obelisk 

raised to another's fame, but the malign 

nant wit will level it at once with the ground. 

and build his own upon the ruins of it. 

What then, ye rash censurers of the world I 
Have ye no mansions for your credit, but 
those from whence ye have extruded the right 
owners ? Are there no regions for you to 
shine in, that ye descend for it into the low 
caverns of abuse and crimination ? Have ye 

no seats but those of the scomfiil to sit 

down in ? If Honour has mistook his road, 
or the Virtues, in their excesses, have ap- 
proached too near the confines of Vice, are 
they, therefore, to be cast down the precipice ! 
Must Beauty for ever be trampled upon in 

the dirt for one one false step? And 

shall no one virtue or good quality, out oi the 
thousand the fair penitent may have left, 

shall not one of them be suffered to 

stand by her ? Just God of Heaven 

and Earth I -'' 



i 



THE LEVITE AND HIS CONCUBINE 

But thou art merciful, loving, and 



righteous, and lookest down with pity upon 
these wrongs thy servants do unto each other : 
pardon us, we beseech thee, for them, and all 
our transgressions ; let it not be remembered, 
that we were brethren of the same flesh, the 
same feelings and infirmities. O my Gk>Dl 
write it not down in thy book, that thou 
madest us merciful after thy own image; 

that thou hast given us a religion so 

courteous, so good temper'd, that 

every precept of it carries a balm along with it 
to heal the soreness of our natures, and sweeten 
our spirits, that we might live with such kind 
intercourse in this world, as will fit us to exist 
together in a better. 



SOI 



SERMON XIX 

FBUX'S BEHAVIOUR TOWARDS PAUI^ 

EXAMINED 

Ha hoped akoy that money should have been given him of 
Ptoly that he might loose him. — Aotb xziy. 16. 

A NOBLE object to take up the consid- 
eration of the Roman governor ! 

" He hoped^ that numey should 

have been given him I ^' forwhatend? to 

enable him to judge betwixt right and wrong I 

and. From whence was it to be wrung ? 

from the poor scrip of a disciple of the carpen- 
ter's son, who left nothing to his followers but 
poverty and suflPerings. 

And was this Felix I the great, the 

noble Felix I Felix the happy I the 

gallant Felix, who kept Drusilla I Could 

he do this ? base passion I What 

canst thou not make us do ? 

Let us consider the whole transaction. 

Paul, in the b^pjining of this chapter, had 
been accused before Felix, by Tertullus, of 

908 



SERMON XIX 

very grievous crimes, of being a pesti- 
lent fellow a mover of seditions, and a 

profaner of the temple, &c. To which 

accusations, the apostle having liberty from 
Felix to reply, he makes his defence from the 
10th to the 22nd verse to this pmport He 
shows him, first, that the whole charge was 
destitute of all proof; which he openly chal- 
lenges them to produce against him, if they 

had it : that, on the contrary, he was so 

far from being the man Tertullus had repre- 
sented, that the very principles of the religion 

with which he then stood charged, and 

which they called Heresy, led him to be the 
most unexceptionable in his conduct, by Uie 
continual exercise which it demanded of him, 
of having a conscience void of offence at all 
times, both towards God and man ; that con- 
sistently with this, his adversaries had neither 
found him in the temple disputing with any 
man, neither raising up the people, mthtr in 

the synagogue, or in the city, for this 

he appeals to themselves : that it was 

but twelve days since he came up from Jeru- 
salem for to worship : that, during that 

time, when he purified in the temple, he did it 
as became him, without noise, without tumult: 



FELIX'S BEHAVIOUR 

this he calls upon the Jews who came from 
Asia, and were eye-witnesses of his behaviom*, 

to attest ; and, in a word, he m*ges the 

whole defence before Felix in so strong a man- 
ner, and with such plain and natural arguments 
of his innocence, as to leave no colour for his 
adversaries to reply. 

There was, however, still one adversary 

in this court, though silent, yet not 

satisfied. 

— Spare thy eloquence, Tertullusl roll up 
the charge: a more notable orator than thy- 
self is risen up, 'tis Avarice, and that 

too in the most fatal place for the prisoner it 

could have taken possession of, 'tis in 

the heart of the man who judges him. 

If Felix believed Paul innocent, and acted 
accordingly — (that is) released him without 

reward, this subtle advocate told him 

he would lose one of the profits of his employ- 
ment — and if he acknowledged the faith of 
Christ, which Paul occasionally explained in 

his defence, it told him, he might lose 

the employment itself ; so that notwith- 
standing the character of the apostle appeared 
(as it was) most spotless, and the faith he pro- 
fessed so very clear, that as he urged it, the 

305 



SERMON XIX 

heart gave its consent, — yet, at the same 
time, the passions rebelled, and so strong an 
interest was formed thereby, against the first 
impressions in favour of the man and his 

cause, that both were dismissed ; the 

one to a more convenient hearing, which never 
came ; the other to the hardships of a prison 

for two whole years, hoping, as the 

text informs us, that money should have been 
pven him ; and even at the last, when be left 
the province, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, 
— ^that is, — to serve his interests in another 
shape, with all the conviction upon his mind, 
that he had done nothing worthy of bonds, he, 
nevertheless, left the holy man bound, and 
consigned over to the hopeless prospect of 
ending his days in the same state of confine- 
ment, in which he had ungenerously left him. 
One would ima^ne, as covetousness is a 
vice not natiurally cruel in itself, that there 
must certainly have been a mixture of other 
motives in the governor's breast, to account 
for a proceeding so contnuy to humanity and 
his own conviction ; and could it be of use to 
raise conjectures upon it, there seems but too 
probable grounds for such a suppositioii. It 
seems that Drusilla, whose curioaty, upon a 



FELIX'S BEHAVIOUR 

double account, had led her to hear Paul, 
(for she was a daughter of Abraham 



as well as of Eve) was a character which 

might have figured very well even in our own 
times; for, as Josephus tells us, she had left 
the Jew her husband, and without any pre- 
tence in their law to justify a divorce, had 
given herself up without ceremony to Felix ; 
for which cause, though she is here caUed his 
wife, she was, in reason and justice, the wife of 
another man, — and consequently lived in an 
open state of adultery. So that when Paul, in 
exphiming the faith of Christ, took occasion 
to argue upon the morality of the Gospel, 

and urged the eternal laws of justice, 

the unchangeable obligations to temperance, 

of which chastity was a branch, it was 

scarce possible to fi:'ame his discourse so (had 
he wished to temporise), but that either her 
interest or her love must have taken offence : 
and though we do not read, like Felix, she 
trembled at the account, 'tis yet natural to 
imagine she was affected with other passions, 
of which the apostle might feel the effects 

and 'twas well he suffered no more, if 

two such violent enemies as lust and avarice 
were combined against hiuL 

307 



SERMON XIX 



But this by the way, ■ 



~ for as the text 



seems only to acknowledge one of these 
motives, it is not our business to assign the 
other. 

It is observable, that this same apostle, 
speaking, in the epistle to Timothy, of the ill- 
eflfects of this same ruling passion, affirms, 
that it is the root of all evil ; and I make no 
doubt that the remembrance of his own suffer- 
ings had no small share in the severity of the 

reflection. Infinite are the examples, 

where the love of money is only a subordinate 
and ministerial passion, exercised for the sup- 
port of some other vices ; and 'tis generally 
found, when there is either ambition, prodi- 
gality, or lust, to be fed by it, that it then 
rages with least mercy and discretion ; in 
which cases, strictly speaking, it is not the 
root of other evils, but other evils are the 
root of it 

This forces me to recall what I have said 
upon covetousness, as a vice not naturally 
cruel : it is not apt to represent itself to our 
imaginations, at first sig^t, under that idea; 
we consider it only as a mean, worthless turn 
of mind, incapable of judging or doing what is 
right : but as it is a vice which does not al- 



FELIX'S BEHAVIOUR 

ways set up for itself, — to know truly what it 
is in this respect, we must know what masters 

it serves : they are many, and of various 

casts and humours, and each one lends 

it something of his own complexional tint and 
character. 

This, I suppose, may be the cause that there 
is a greater and more whimsical mystery in 
the love of money, than in the darkest and 
most nonsensical problem that ever was 
pored on. 

Even at the best, and when the passion 
seems to seek nothing more than its own 

amusement, there is little very 

little, I fear, to be said for its humanity. 

It may be a sport to the miser, but con- 
sider, it must be death and destruction 

to others. The moment this sordid humour 

b^^ to govern farewell all honest 

and natural affection 1 farewell all he owes to 

parents, to children, to fiiends ! how 

fiast the obligations vanish 1 see he is 

now stripped of all feelings whatever : 

the shrill cry of Justice and the low 

lamentation of humble distress, are notes 

equally beyond his compass. Eternal 

God ! see ! — he passes by one whom thou 

309 



SERMON XIX 

hast just bruised, without one pensive reflec- 
tion : he entere the cabin of the widow 

whose husband and child thou hast taken to 
thyself, exacts his bond without, a sigh 1 

— Heaven ! if I am to be tempted, let 

it be by glory, by ambition, by 

some generous and manly vice : — if I must 
fall, let it be by some passion which thou hast 
planted in my nature, which shall not hanien 
my heart, but leave me room at last to retreat 
and come back to thee 1 

It would be easy here to add the common 
arguments which reason oiFers against this 
vice ; but they are so well imderstood, both 
in matter and fonn, it is needless. 

I might cite to you what Seneca says upon 

it but the misfortune is, that at tlie 

same time he was writing against riches, he 
was enjoying a great estate, and using every 
means to make that estate greater. 

With infinite pleasure mi^t a preacha 
enrich his discourse in this place, by weaving 
into it all the smart things which andent w 
modem wits have said up<m the love of money : 

— he might inform you, 

" That poverty wants something 

that covetousness wanteth aU." 



FELIXS BEHAVIOUR 

''That a miser can only be said to have 
riches, as a sick man has a fever, which holds 

and tyrannises over the man, not he 

over if* 

'^ That covetousness is the shirt of the soul, 
the last vice it parts with." 

''That natm« is content with few things, 
or that nature is never satisfied at 



all, &C." 

The reflection of our Saviour, That the life 
of man consisteth not in the aJmndance of the 

things which he possesseth^ speaks more 

to the heart, — and the single hint of the Camels 
and what a very narrow passage he has to go 

through, has more coercion in it, than 

all the see-saws of philosophy. 

I shall endeavour therefore to draw such 
other reflections from this piece of sacred his- 
tory, as are applicable to human life, 

and more likely to be of use. 

There is nothing generally in which our 
happmess and honour are more nearly con- 
cerned, than in forming true notions both of 
men and things ; for m proportion as we think 
rightly of them, we approve ourselves to the 
world, — and as we govern ourselves by such 
judgments, so we secure our peace and well- 

311 



SERMON XIX 

being in passing through it: the false steps 
and miscarriages in life, issuing from a defect 
in this capital point, are so many and fatal, 
that there can be nothing more instructive 
than an inquiry into the causes of this perver- 
sion, which often appears so very gross in us, 
that were you to take a view of the world, 

see what notions it entertains, and 

by what considerations it is governed, — you 
would say of the mistakes of human judgment, 
what the prophet does of the folly of human 

actions, ** That we were wise to do mA 

but to judge rightly 9 had no understanding^* 
That in many dark and abstracted questions 

of mere speculation, we should err, is 

not strange: we live among mysteries and 
riddles, and almost ever3rthing which comes in 
our way, in one light or other, may be said to 

baffle our understandings, yet seldom, 

so as to mistake in extremities, and take one 
contrary for another; — 'tis very rare, for in- 
stance, that we take the virtue of a plant to be 
hot, when it is extremely cold, — or, that we 
try the experiment of opium, to keep us 
waking : yet, this we are continually at- 
tempting in the conduct of life, as well as in 
the great ends and measures of it. That such 

312 



FELIXS BEHAVIOUR 

wrong determinations in us do arise from any 
defect of judgment inevitably misleading us — 
would reflect dishonour upon God ; as if he 
had made and sent men into the world on 
purpose to play the fooL His all-bountiful 
hand made his judgment, like his heart, up- 
riirht; and the instances of his saimcity, in 
;:*erU^ rf,und»tly confirm ITw/are 
led therefore in course to a supposition, that, 
in all inconsistent instances there is a secret 
bias, somehow or other, hung upon the mind, 
which turns it aside from reason and truth. 

What this is, if we do not care to search for 
it in ourselves, we shall find it registered in this 
transaction of Felix : and we may depend that 
in all wrong judgments whatever, in such plain 
cases as this, that the same explanation must 
be given of it, which is given in the text, 
namely, that it is some selfish consid- 
eration some secret dirty engagement 

with some little appetite, which does us so 
much dishonour. 

The judgments of the more disinterested 
and impartial of us, receive no small tincture 
from our affections : we generally consult them 
in all doubtful points, and it happens well if 
the matter in question is not almost settled 

SIS 



SERMON XIX 

before the arbitrator is called into the debate ; 
but in the more flagrant instances, where the 
passions govern the whole man, 'tis melan- 
choly to see the office to which reason, the 
great prerogative of his nature, is reduced; 
serving the lower appetites in the dishonest 
drudgery of finding out arguments to justify 
the present pursuit 

To judge rightly of our own worth, we 
should retire a little from the world, to see all 

its pleasures and pains too, in their 

proper size and dimensions ; this, no 

doubt, was the reason, St. Paul, when he ia- 
tended to convert Felix, began his discourse 
upon the day of judgment, on purpose to 
take the heart off from this world and its 
pleasures, which dishonour the understandii^J 
so as to turn the wisest of men into fools 
and children. 

If you enlarge your observations upon this 
plan, you will find where the evil lies which 
has supported those desperate opinions, which 
have so long divided the Christian w<xid 
and are likely to divide it for ever. 

Consider popery well ; you will be convinced, 
that the truest definition which can be giva 
of it, is, ■ -That it is a pecuniaiy system. 



FELIX'S BEHAVIOUR 

well contrived to operate upon men's passions 
and weakness, whilst their pockets are o'pick- 
ing : run through all the points of difference 
between us, — and when you see, that in every 
one of them, they serve the same end which 
Felix had in view, either of money or power ; 
there is little room left to doubt whence 
the doud arises which is spread over the 
understanding. 

If this reasoning is conclusive with regard 
to those who merely differ from us m religion, 

let us try if it will not hold good with 

r^fard to those who have none at all, — or 
rather, who affect to treat all persuasions of it, 
with ridicule alike. Thanks to good sense, 
good manners, and a more enlarged knowledge, 
this humour is going down, and seems to be 
settling at present, chiefly amongst the inferior 

classes of the people where it is likely 

to rest: as for the lowest ranks, though they 
are apt enough to follow the modes of their 
betters, yet are they not likely to be struck 
with this one, of making merry with that 
which is their consolation ; they are too serious 
a set of poor people ever heartily to enter 
into it — 

There is enough, however, of it in the world 

su 



SERMON XIX 

to say, that this all-sacred system, which holds 
the world in harmony and peace, is too often 
the first object that the giddy and inconsid- 
erate make choice of to try the temper of 
their wits upon. Now, of the numbers who 
make this experiment, do you believe that 
one in a thousand does it from conviction, 

or from arguments which a course of 

study, much cool reasoning, and 

a sober inquiry into antiquity, and the true 
merits of the question, have frimished him 

with? The years and way of life of the 

most froward of these, lead us to a difier^it 
explanation. 

Religion, which lays so many restraints upon 
us, is a troublesome companion to those who 

will lay no restraints upon themselves ; 

and for this reason there is nothing more 
common to be observed, than that the little 
arguments and cavils, which such men have 
gathered up against it, in the early part of 
their lives, — how considerable soever they 
may have appeared, when viewed through 
their passions and prejudices, which give an 

unnatural turn to all objects, yet, when 

the edge of appetite has been worn down, and 
the heat of pursuit pretty weU over, 

316 



FELIXS BEHAVIOUR 

and reason and judgment have got possession 

of their empire 

They seldom fail of bringing the 



lost sheep back to his fold. 

May God bring us all there. Amen. 



SIT 



\ 



SERMON XX 

THE PRODIGAL SON 

And not manj days after, the jonnger ion gathered all he had 
together, and took his journey into a fax conntiy. — Lun xr. 18. 

I KNOW not whether the remark is to our 
honour or otherwise, that lessons of wis- 
dom have never such a power over us, as when 
they are wrought into the heart, through the 
groimd-work of a story which engages the 
passions : Is it that we are like iron, and must 
first be heated before we can be wrought 
upon ? or. Is the heart so in love with deceit, 
that where a true report will not reach it, we 
must cheat it with a fable, in order to come 
at truth? 

Whether this parable of the prodigal (for 

so it is usually caUed) is really such, or 

built upon some story known at that time in 
Jerusalem, is not much to the purpose; it is 
given us to enlarge upon, and turn to the best 
moral accoimt we can. 

A certain man, says our Saviour, had two 

319 



(( 



SERMON XX 

sons, and the younger of them said to his 
father, Give me the portion of goods which 
falls to me : and he divided unto them his 
substance. And not many days after, the 
younger son gathered all together, and took 
his journey into a far country, and there wasted 
his substance with riotous Ii\Tng." 

The account is short : the interesting and 
pathetic passages with which such a transaction 
would be necessarily connected, are left to 

be suppUed by the heart : the story is 

silent but nature is not : much 

kind advice, and many a tender expostulation, 
would fall from the father's Ups, no doubt, 
upon this occasion. 

He would dissuade his son upon the folly 
of so rash an enterprise, by showing him the 

dangers of the journey, the inexperience 

of his age, the hazards his life, his for- 
tune, his virtue would run, without a guide, 
without a friend: he would tell him of the 
m^ny snares and temptations which he had to 

avoid, or encounter at every step, the 

pleasures which would solicit him in every 
luxurious court, — the little knowledge he 
could gain — except that of evil : he would 
speak of the seduction of women* — their 



I 



THE PRODIGAL SON 

charms their poisons : what hap- 
less indulgences he might give way to, when 
fSetr from restraint, and the check of giving his 
father pain. 

The dissuasive would but inflame his de- 
sire. 

He gathers all together. 



I see the picture of his departure 



the camels and asses loaden with his sub- 
stance, detached on one side of the piece, and 

already on their way : the prodigal son 

standing on the foreground, with a forced 
sedateness, struggling against the fluttering 
movement of joy, upon his deliverance fit)m 

restraint : the elder brother holding his 

hand, as if unwilling to let it go : the 

father, sad moment 1 with a firm look, 

covering a prophetic sentiment, "that all 
would not go well with his child,*' — approach- 
ing to embrace him, and bid him adieu. 

Poor inconsiderate youth 1 From whose arms 
art thou flying? From what a shelter art 
thou going forth into the storm? Art thou 
weary of a father's affection, of a father's care ? 
or, Hopest thou to find a warmer interest, a 
truer counsellor, or a kinder friend in a land of 
strangers, where youth is made a prey, and 

391 



SERMON XX 

so many thousands are confederated to deiiave 
them, and live by their spoils? 

We will seek no farther than this idea, for 
the extravagances by which the prodigal son 
added one unhappy example to the number : 

his fortune wasted the followers of it 

fled in course, the wants of nature 

remain, the hand of God gone forth 

against him, "f^*^ when he had spent 

all, a mighty fandfie arose m that country." 
Heaven ! have pity upon the youth, for he is 

in hunger and distress stray'd out of the 

reach of a parent, who counts every hour at 

his absence with anguish, cut off from 

aU his tender offices by his folly and 

from relief and charity from others, by the 
calamity of the times 

Nothing so powerfully calls home the mind 

as distress : the tense fibre then relaxes, 

the soul retires to itself, sits pensive 

and susceptible of right impressions : if we 
have a friend, 'tis then we think of him ; if a 
benefactor, at that moment all his kindnesses 
press upon our mind. — Gracious and boun- 
tiftil God I Is it not for this that th^ who in 
their prosperity forget thee, do yet remember 
and return to thee in the hour of their s<»row ? 



I 



THE PRODIGAL SON 

When our heart is in heaviness, upon whom 
can we think but thee, who knowest our 
necessities afar off, — puttest all our tears in 
thy bottle, — seest every careful thought, — 
hearest every sigh and melancholy groan we 
utter 

Strange 1 — that we should only begin to 
think of Gk)D with comfort, when with joy 
and comfort we can think of nothing else. 

Man surely is a compoimd of riddles and 
contradictions: by the law of his nature he 
avoids pain, and yet unless he stiffers in the 
Jlesh^ he tcill not cease from sin^ though it is 
sure to bring pain and misery upon his head 
for ever. 

Whilst all went pleasurably on with the 
prodigal, we hear not one word concerning his 
ffither no pang of remorse for the suffer- 
ings in which he had left him, or resolution of 
returning, to make up the accoimt of his folly : 
his first hour of distress seemed to be his first 

hour of wisdom : When he came to him- 

self 9 he said^ How many hired servants of my 
father have bread erumgh and to spare^ whilst 
I perish! 

Of all the terrors of nature, that of one day 
or other dying by hunger, is the greatest, and 



SERMON XX 



wisely 



into ( 



' frame to awaken j 



wove 
3 industry, and call forth his talents ; 
though we seem to go on carelessly, sporting 

with it as we do with other terrors, yet 

he that sees this enemy fairly, and in his most 
frightful shape, will need no long remonstrance 
to make him turn out of the way to avoid him. 

It was the case of the prodigal he ' 

arose to go to his father 

Alas ! How should he tell his story ? 

Ye who have trod this round, tell me in what 
words he shall give into his father, the sad 
Items of his extravagance and folly ? i 

The feasts and banquets which he J 

gave to whole cities in the East, — the costs] 

of Asiatic rarities, and of Asiatic cooks I 

to dress them, the expenses of singingJ 

men and singing women, the flute, the 

harp, the sackbut, and of all kinds of music — 
the dress of the Persian courts, how magnifi- 
cent I their slaves, how numerous I their 

chariots, their horses, their palaces, their ftimi- 
ture, what immense sums they had devoured I 

what expectations from strangers of 

condition t what exactions I 

How shall the youth make his father com- 
prehend, that he was cheated at Damascus by 



I 

i 

i 



I 



I 



\ 






i 



5; 

i 



I 
i 



1 1 



1^ 



THE PRODIGAL SON 

one of the best men in the world ; — that he 
had lent a part of his substance to a friend at 
Nineveh, who had fled ofi^ with it to the Gan- 
ges ; — that a whore of Babylon had swallowed 
his best pearl, and anointed the whole city with 
his balm of Gilead ; — that he had been sold 
by a man of honom* for twenty shekels of 

silver, to a worker in graven images ; 

that the images he had pm'chased had profited 
him nothing ; — that they could not be trans- 
ported across the wilderness, and had been 
burnt with fire at Shusan; — that the *apes 
and peacocks, which he had sent for from Tar- 
sis, lay dead upon his hands; and that the 
mununies had not been dead long enough, 
which had been brought him out of Egypt : 

that all had gone wrong since the day 

he forsook his father's house. 

L#eave the story, it will be told 

more concisely. When he was yet far 

off^ his father saw Aim, Compassion told 

it in three words — he fell upon Us neck and 
kissed him. 

Great is the power of eloquence ; but never 
is it so great as when it pleads along with 
nature, and the culprit is a child strayed from 

* Vide 2 Chronicles is. 21. 

S85 



SERMON XX 

his duty, and returned to it again 
Casuists may settle the point as they will: 
But what could a parent see more in the ac- 
count, than the natural one, of an ingenuous 
heart too open for the world, — smitten with 
strong sensations of pleasures, and suffered to 
satly forth unarmed into the midst of enemies 
stronger than himself? 

Glenerosity sorrows as much for the over- 
matched, as Pity herself does. 

The idea of a son so ruined, would double 
the father's caresses : — every effusion of his 
tenderness would add bitterness to his son's 

remorse, " Gracious Heaven I what a 

father have I rendered miserable ! " 

And he said, I have simied against heaven^ 
and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to { 
be called thy son. 

But the father said. Bring forth the best 
robe. 

O ye affections I how fondly do you play at 

cross purposes with each other I Tis 

the natural dialogue of true transport : joy is 
not methodical ; and where an offender, be- 
loved, overcharges itself in the offence, 

words are too cold ; and a conciliated heart 
rephes by tokens of esteem. 



THE PRODIGAL SON 

And he said unto his servants^ Bring forth 
the best robe^ and put it on him : and put a ring 
on his handy and shoes on his feet ^ and bring 
hither the fatted calf^ and let us eat and drink 
and be inerry. 

When the afiections so kindly break loose, 
Joy is another name for Religion. 

We look up as we taste it : the cold Stoic 
without, when he hears the dancing and music, 
may ask sullenly (with the elder brother) 
What it means ? and refuse to enter : but the 
humane and compassionate all fly impetuously 
to the banquet, given for a son who was dead 
and is alive again — who was lost and is found. 
Gentle spirits, light up the pavilion with a 
sacred fire ; and parental love and filial piety, 
lead in the mask with riot and wild festivity 1 

Was it not for this that God gave man 

music to strike upon the kindly passions ; that 
Nature taught the feet to dance to its move- 
ments, and, as chief governess of the feast, 
poured forth wine into the goblet, to crown it 
with gladness ? 

The intention of this parable is so clear fix>m 
the occasion of it, that it will not be necessary 
to perplex it with any tedious explanation : it 
was designed by way of indirect remonstrance 

an 



SERMON XX 

to the Scribes and Pharisees, who ammad- 
verted upon our Saviour's conduct, for enter- 
ing so freely into conferences with sinners, 
order to reclaim thena. To that end, he pro- 
poses the parable of the shepherd, who left his 
ninety-and-nine sheep that were safe in the 
fold, to go and seek for one sheep that was 
gone astray, — telling them in other places, 
that they who were whole wanted not a phya- 
cian, — but they that were sick : and here, to 
carry on the same lesson, and to prove how 
acceptable such a recovery was to God, he re- 
lates this accomit of the prodigal son and his 
welcome reception. 

I know not whether it would be a subject of 
much edification to convince you here, tliat 
our Saviour, by the prodigal son, particularly 
pointed at those who are sinners of the Gentiles^ 
and were recovered by divine Grace to repent- 
ance; and that by the elder brother, 

he intended as manifestly the more &oward of 
the Jews, who envied their conversion, and 
thought it a kind of wrong to their primogeni- 
ture, in being made fellow-heirs with them of 
the promises of God. 

lliese uses have been so ably set f<Hth, in 
so many good sermons upcm the prodigal son. 



THE PRODIGAL SON 

that I shall turn aside from them at present, 
and content myself with some reflections upon 

that fatal passion which led him, and so 

many thousands after the example, to gather 
all he had together ^ and take his journey into 
afar country. 

The love of variety, or curiosity of seeing 
new things, which is the same, or at least a 

sister passion to it, seems wove into the 

frame of every son and daughter of Adam ; 
we usually speak of it as one of nature's levi- 
ties, though planted within us for the soUd 
purposes of carrying forward the mind to fresh 
inquiry and knowledge ; strip us of it, the 
mind (I fear) would doze for ever over the 
present page ; and we should all of us rest at 
ease with such objects as presented themselves 
in the parish or province where we first drew 
breath. 

It is to this spur which is ever in our sides, 
that we owe the impatience of this desire for 

travelling: the passion is no way bad, 

but as others are, in its mismanagement 

or excess; order it rightly, the advan- 
tages are worth the pursuit ; Ithe chief of 

which are to learn the languages, the laws 

and customs, and understand the government 



SERMON XX 

and intwestof other nations, to acquire^ 

an urbanity and confidence of behaviour, and fit 
the mind more easily for conversation and dis- 
course to take us out of the company 

of our aunts and grandmothers, and from the 
track of nursery mistakes ; and by showing us 
new objects, or old ones in new lights, to re- 
form our judgments by tasting perpetu- 
ally the varieties of nature, to know what is ' 

good and by observing the address and 

arts of man, to conceive what is sincere, 

and by seeing the difference of so many vari- 
ous humours and manners, to look into \ 

ourselves and form our own. 

This is some part of the cargo we might J 
return with ; but the impulse of seeing new J 
sights, augmented with that of getting clew t 
irom all lessons both of wisdom and reproof at 

home carries our youth too early out, 

to turn this venture to much account ; on the 
contrary, if the scene painted of the prodigal 
in his travels, looks more like a copy than an 
original, — will it not be well if such an ad- 
voitur^, with so unpromising a setting out, 

— without carte, — without compass, 

be not cast away for ever, — and may he 
not be said to escape well if he return 



I 

I 

I 



THE PRODIGAL SON 

to his country, only as naked as he first left 
it? 

But you will send an able pilot with your 
son a scholar. 

If ¥dsdom can speak in no other language 

but Greek or Latin, you do well 

or if mathematics will make a man a gentle- 
man, — or natural philosophy but teach him 

to make a bow, he may be of some 

service in introducing your son into good soci- 
eties, and supporting him in them when he 
has done but the upshot will be gener- 
ally this, that in the most pressing occasions 
of address if he is a mere man of read- 
ing, the unhappy youth will have the tutor to 
carry, — and not the tutor to carry him. 

But you will avoid this extreme; he shall 
be escorted by one who knows the world, not 
merely fix)m books — but fix)m his own experi- 
ence: a man who has been employed 

in such services, and thrice made the tour of 
Europe^ with success. 

That is, without breaking his own, or 

his pupil's neck; for if he is such as 

my eyes have seen I some broken Siviss vcUet de 
chamhrey — some general undertaker, who will 
perform the journey in so many months, '' if 

SSI 



SERMON XX 

Gk)D PERMIT " — much knowledge will not ac- 
crue; some profit at least, he will 

learn the amount toa hal^nny, of every stage 

jfrom Calais to Rome ; he will be carried 

to the best inns, instructed where there 

is the best wine, and sup a livre cheaper, than 
if the youth had been left to make the tour 
and the bargain himself — Look at our gov- 
ernor I I beseech you : see, he is an inch 

taller, as he relates the advantages. 

And here endeth his pride his 



knowledge, and his use. 

But when your son gets abroad, he will be 
taken out of his hand, by his society with men 
of rank and letters, with whom he will pass 
the greatest part of his time. 

Let me observe, in the first place, — that 
company which is really good, is very rare, 

and very shy : but you have surmounted 

this difficulty ; and procured him the best let- 
ters of recommendation to the most eminent 
and respectable in every capital 

And I answer, that he will obtain all by them, 
which courtesy strictly stands obliged to pay 
on such occasions, but no more. 

There is nothing in which we are so much 
deceived, as in the advantages proposed fix)m 

332 



THE PRODIGAL SON 

our connections and discourse with the literati, 
&c, in foreign parts ; especially if the experi- 
ment is made before we are matured by years 
or study. 

Conversation is a traffic ; and if you enter 
into it, without some stock of knowledge to 
balance the account perpetually betwixt you, 
— the trade drops at once : — and this is the 

reason, however it may be boasted to 

the contrary, why travellers have so little (es- 
pecially good) conversation with natives, 

owing to their suspicion, — or perhaps convic- 
tion, that there is nothing to be extracted 
fix)m the conversation of yoimg itinerants, 
worth the trouble of their bad language, — or 
the interruption of their visits. 

The pain on these occasions is usually re- 
ciprocal ; the consequence of which is, that the 
disappointed youth seeks an easier society; 
and as bad company is always ready, and ever 
lying in wait, — the career is soon finished; 
and the poor prodigal returns the same object 
of pity, with the prodigal in the Gospel 



SERMON XXI 

NATIONAL MERCIES CONSIDERED* 

And when thy son aaketh thee in time to come, saying, What 
mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which 
the Lord our Qod hath commanded youf then thou shalt say 
unto thy son, We were Pharaoh's bondsmen in Egypt, and the 
Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 

DxunBONOMT tL so, 81. 

THESE are the words which Moses left 
as a standing answer for the children 
of Israel to give their posterity, who in 
time to come might become ignorant, or mi- 
mindful of the many and great mercies, which 
Gk)D had vouchsafed to their forefathers ; all 
which had terminated in that one of their 
deliverance out of bondage. 

Though they were directed to speak in this 
manner, each man to his son, yet one cannot 
suppose, that the direction should be necessary 
for the next generation, — for the children of 
those who had been eye-witnesses of Gtod's 

* On the InaugiumtUm of hia present Majesty. 



SERMON XXI 

Providences : it does not seem likely that any 
of them should rise to that age of reasoning, 
which would put them upon asking the sup- 
posed question, and not be, long beforehand 
instructed in the answer. Every parent would 
tell his child the hardships of his captivity, 
and the amazing particulars of his deliverance : 

the story was so unconmion, so fiill of 

wonder, and withal, the recital of it 

would ever be a matter of such transport, it 

could not possibly be kept a secret : the 

piety and gratitude of one generation would 
anticipate the curiosity of another ; their sons 
would learn the story with their language. 

This probably might be the case with the 
first or second race of people, but in process 
of time, things might take a different turn: 
a long and undistm*bed possession of their 
liberties might blunt the sense of those provi- 
dences of God, which had procured them, and 
set the remembrance of all his mercies at too 
great a distance from their hearts. After they 
had for some years been eased of every real 
burden, an excess of freedom might make 
them restless under every imaginary one, and, 
amongst others that of their religion ; from 
whence they might seek occasion to inquire 

336 



NATIONAL MERCIES CONSIDERED 

into the foundation and fitness of its cere- 
monies, its statutes, and its judgments. 

They might ask, What meant so many com- 
mands in matters which to them appeared in- 
different in their own natures ? What policy 
in ordaining them ? and. What obligation could 
there lie upon reasonable creatures, to comply 
with a multitude of such unaccountable in- 
junctions, so unworthy the wisdom of God ? 

Hereafter, possibly, they might go further 
lengths; and though their natural bent was 
generally toward superstition, yet some adven- 
turers, as is ever the case, might steer for the 
opposite coast, and as they advanced might 
discover that all religions, of whatever denom- 
inations or complexions soever, were alike. 
That the reUgion of their own country in 
particular, was a contrivance of the Priests 
and Levites, — a phantom dressed out in a 
terrifying garb of their own making, to keep 

weak minds in fear: that its rites and 

ceremonies, and numberless injunctions, were 
so many different wheels in the same political 
engine, put in, no doubt, to amuse the igno- 
rant, and keep them in such a state of darkness, 
as clerical juggling requires. 

That as for the moral part of it, though it 

337 



SERMON XXI 

was unexceptionable in itself, yet it wj 

a piece of intelligence they did not stand i 
want of; men had natural reason always to | 

have found it out, and wisdom to | 

have practised it, without Moses' assistance. 

Nay, possibly, in process of time, they might ] 
arrive at greater improvements in religious ] 

controversy when they had given thdr 

system of infidelity ail the strength it could , 
admit of from reason, they might begin to j 
embeUish it with some more sprightly conceits 
and turns of ridicule. 

Some wanton IsraeUte, when he had eaten ] 
and was full, might give free scope and indul- 
gence to this talent : as arguments and sober 
reasoning fail'd, he might turn the edge of his 
wit against types and symbols, and treat all 
the mysteries of his religion, and everything 
that could be said on so serious a subject, with 
raillery and mirth: he might give vent to a 
world of pleasantry upon many sacred passages 
of his law : he might banter the golden cal^ 
or the brazen sarpent, with great courage 
and confoimd himself in the distinc- 
tions of clean and unclean beasts, by the 
desperate sallies of his wit against them. 

He could but possibly take one step farther: 



NATIONAL MERCIES CONSIDERED 

when the land which flowed with milk and 
honey, had quite worn out the impressions of 
his yoke, and blessings began to multiply upon 
his hands, he might draw this curious conclu- 
sion, that there was no Being who was the 

author and bestower of them, but that 

it was their own arm, and the mightiness of 
Israelitish strength, which had put them, 
and kept them, in possession of so much 

happiness. 

O Moses I How would thy meek and pa- 
tient spirit have been put to the torture by 
such a return? If a propensity towards su- 
perstition in the Israelites, did once betray thee 
into such an excess of anger, that thou threw- 
est the two tables out of thy hands, which 
Gk)D had wrote, and carelessly hazardest the 

whole treasure of the world, with what 

indignation and honest anguish wouldst thou 
have heard the scoffings of those who denied 
the hand which brought them forth, and said. 
Who is God, that we should obey his voice ? 
With what force and vivacity wouldst thou 
have reproached them with the history of 

their own nation : that if too free an 

enjoyment of Gk)D's blessings, had made them 
foiget to look backwards, it was nee- 



SERMON XXI 

essary to remind them, that their fore- 
fathers were Pharaoh's bondsmen in Egypt, 
without prospect of deliverance ; that the 
chains of their captivity had been fixed and 
riveted by a. succession of four hundred and 
thirty years, without the interruption of one 
struggle for their liberty : that after the expi- 
ration of that hopeless period, when no natural 
means favoured the event, they were snatched 
almost against their own wills, out of the 
hands of their oppressors, and led through an 
ocean of dangers, to the possession of a land 
of plenty : that this change in their affairs 

was not the produce of chance or fortune, 

nor was it projected or executed by any 
achievement or plan of human device, which 
might soon again be defeated by superior 
strength or policy from without, or fix)m force 
of accidents from within, from change of cir- 
cumstances, humours, and passions of men, 
all which generally had a sway in the rise 

and fiill of kingdoms, but that all was 

brought about by the power and goodness of 
God, who saw and pitied the afflictions of a 
distressed people, and, by a chain of great 
and mighty deliverances, set them free from 
the yoke of oppression. 



NATIONAL MERCIES CONSIDERED 

That since that mkaculous escape, a series 
of successes not to be accounted for by second 
causes, and the natural course of events, had 
demonstrated not only God's providence in 
general, but his particular providence and at- 
tachment to them that nations greater 

and mightier than they, were driven out before 
them, and their lands given to them for an 
everlasting possession. 

This was what they should teach their chil- 
dren, and their children's children after them. 

Happy generations, for whom so joyful 

a lesson was prepared ! happy indeed ! had ye 
at all times known to have made the use of 

it, which Moses continually exhorted, 

of drawing nigh unto God with all your hearts^ 
who had been so nigh unto you. 

And here let us drop the argument, as it 
respects the Jews, and for a moment tiun it 
towards ourselves : the present occasion, and 
the recollection which is natural upon it, of 
the many other parts of this complicated 
blessing vouchsafed to us, since we became a 
nation, making it hard to desist from such 
an application. 

I begin with the first in order of time, as 
well as the greatest of national deliverances, 

Sil 



SERMON XXI 

— our deliverance from darkness and idolatry, 
by the conveyance of the Hght which Chris- 
tianity brought with it into Britain, so early 
as in the lifetime of the apostles tliemselves, or 
at furthest, not many years after their death. 

Though this might seem a blessing conveyed 
and offered to us in common with other parts 
of the world, yet when you reflect upon this 
as a remote corner of the earth in respect to 

Judea, its situation and inaccessible- 

ness as an island, — the little that was then 

known of navigation, or carried on of 

commerce. the large tract of land which 

to this day remains unhallowed with the name 
of Christ, and almost in the neighbourhood 
of where the first glad tidings of him were 

sounded One cannot but adore the 

goodness of Gun, and remark a more partic- 
ular providence in its conveyance and estab- 
lishment here, than amongst other nations 

upon the continent, where, though the 

oppositions from error and prejudice were 
equal, it had not these natural impediments 
to encounter. 

Historians and statesmen, who generally 
search everywhere for the causes of events, 
but in the pleasure of Him who disposes of 



NATIONAL MERCIES CONSIDERED 

them, they make different reflections upon 
this. They may consider it as a matter inci- 
dental, brought to pass by the fortuitous am- 
bition, success, and settlement of the Romans 
here; it appearing, that in Claudius's reign, 
when Christianity began to get footing in 
Rome, near eighty thousand of that city and 
people were fixed in this island : as this made 
a free communication betwixt the two places, 
the way for the Gospel was in course open, 
and its transition from the one to the other, 

natural and easy to be accounted for, 

and yet, nevertheless, providential Gkxl often 
suffers us to pursue the devices of our hearts, 
whilst he turns the course of them, like the 
rivers of waters, to bountifrd purposes. Thus, 
he might make that pursuit of glory inherent 
in the Romans, the engine to advance his own, 
and establish it here: he might make the 
wickedness of the earth to work his own right- 
eousness, by suffering them to wander a while 
beyond their proper bounds, till his purposes 
were fulfilled, and then put his hook into their 
nostrils^ and lead these wild beasts of prey 
back again into their own land. 

Next to this blessing of the light of the 
Gospel, we must not forget that by which it 



NATIONAL MERCIES CONSIDERED 

has it been perfected and handed down, if not 

entirely without spot or wrinkle^ at least, 

without great blotches or marks of anility ! 

Even the blow which was suffered to fall 
upon it shortly after, in that period where our 
history looks so unlike herself, stain'd, Mary, 

by thee, and disfigured by blood : can 

one reflect upon it, without adoring the Provi- 
dence of God, which so speedily snatched the 
sword of persecution out of her hand, — mak- 
ing her reign as short as it was merciless. 

If God then made us, as he did the Israel- 
ites, suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of 
the flinty rock, how much more signal was his 
mercy in giving them to us without money, 
without price, in those good days which fol- 
lowed, when a long and wise reign was as 
necessary to build up our church, as a short 
one was before to save it from ruins. 

The blessing was necessary, and it 



was granted. 



God having multiplied the years of 

that renowned princess to an uncommon num- 
ber, giving her time, as well as a heart, to fix 
a wavering persecuted people, and settle them 
upon such a foundation as must make them 
happy : the touchstone, by which they 

345 



SERMON XXI 

are to be tried, whom God has intrusted with 
the care of kingdoms. 

Blessed be thy glorious name for ever and 
ever, in making that test so much easier for 
the British, than other princes of this earth; 
whose subjects, whatever other changes they 
have felt, have seldom happened upon that of 
changing their misery, and, it is to be feared, 
are never Ukely, so long as they are kept so 
strongly bound ui chains of darkness, — and 
chains of power. 

From both these kinds of evils, which are 
almost naturally connected together. How 
providential was our escape in the succeeding 
reign, when all the choice blood was bespoke; 
and preparations made to ofTer it up at one 
sacrifice I 

I would not intermix the horrors of that 
black projected festival, with the glories of 
this : or name the sorrows of the next reign, 
which ended in the subversion of our constitu- 
tion, was it not necessary to pursue the tluead 
of our deliverances through those times, and 
remark how nigh God's Providence was to us 
in them both, by protecting us from the one, 
in as signal a manner as he restored us from 
the other. 



NATIONAL MERCIES CONSIDERED 

Indeed the latter of them might have been 
a joyless matter of remembrance to us at this 
day, had it not been confirmed a blessing by a 
succeeding escape, which sealed and conveyed 
it safe down to us : whether it was to correct 
an undue sense of former blessings, — or to 
teach us to reflect upon the number and value 
of them, by threatening us with the depriva- 
tion of them, — we were suffered, however, to 
approach the edge of a precipice, where, if 
God had not raised up a deliverer to lead us 

back, all had been lost : the arts 

of Jesuitry had decoyed us forwards, or if 
that had failed, we had been push'd down 
by open force, and our destruction had been 
inevitable. 

The good consequences of that deliverance 
are such, that it seemed as if God had suffered 
our waters, like those of Bethesda, to be 
troubled, to make them afterwards more heal- 
ing to us ; since to the account of that day's 
blessing, we charge the enjoyment of every- 
thing since, worth a freeman's living for, 

the revival of our liberty, our religion ; 

the just rights of our kings, and the 

just rights of our people, and along with all, 
that happy provision for their continuance, 

347 



NATIONAL MERCIES CONSIDERED 

because they disengage the Providence of God 

from taking his part, and then giving a 

heart to his adversaries to be intractable. — 

And therefore, what was said by some one. 
That every sin was a treason against the soul, 

may be applied here, That every wicked 

man is a traitor to his king and country. And, 
whatever statesmen may write of the causes of 
the rise and fall of nations ; — for the contrary 
reasons, a good man will ever be found to be 
the best patriot and the best subject: and 
though an individual may say. What can my 
righteousness profit a nation of men ? it may 
be answered. That if it should fail of a blessing 

here, it will have one advantage at least, 

which is this. 

It will save thy own soul ; which may God 
grant Amen. 



349 




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