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VOL. I. 




1843. -^^^ 



>" ■ /^/. € 


The subject of pulpit eloquence is exciting so much 
of the attention of theological students at the present 
day, that the publisher of this edition of the Sermons of 
Dr. South believes he is performing an acceptable ser- 
vice, by presenting them in a form and at a price which 
will now bring them within the reach of all classes. 

Dr. South was a divine raised up and endowed with 
talents and abilities peculiarly adapted to the critical 
period when he lived. Remarkable for a combination of 
qualities rarely found together — for originality of con- 
ception — for keenness of argument — for boldness of re- 
proof — for severity of sarcasm ^ — and for playfulness of 
wit ; but above all, for the most earnest and fervent 
desire for the glory of God in the salvation of his fellow 
men ; it is scarcely possible to peruse his Discourses with- 
out becoming refreshed and nerved with their rich and 
glowing eloquence. " His judgment," says an eminent 
writer,* " was penetrating, and his knowledge extensive. 
He did honour to his age and country, I could almost 
say to human nature itself. He possessed at once all 
those extraordinary talents that were divided amongst 

* In the Tatler. 


the greatest authors of antiquity ; he had the sound, 
distinct, comprehensive knowledge of Aristotle, with all 
the beautiful lights, graces, and embellishments of 
Cicero. One does not know which to admire most in 
his writings, the strength of reason, force of style, or 
brightness of imagination. In short, the best way to 
praise him is to quote him. In all his writings will 
be found the divine, the orator, the casuist, and the 

The present edition contains all the Sermons published 
during the life of Dr. South, reprinted from the 
edition of 1737, in six volumes. Also the Posthumous 
Discourses, published in 1744, under the superintend- 
ence of Dr. William King, Principal of St. Mary Hall, 
Oxford, in five volumes. The three discourses published 
in 1717, by Edmund Curll, have also been added, of 
. which some account is given in the advertisement pre- 
fixed to them, in Vol. iv. page 489. 

This edition is accompanied with a very copious and 
carefully collated Index of all the principal matters 
contained in the volumes, which cannot fail of being- 
acceptable not only to the general reader, but especially 
to the student, as furnishing an easy mode of reference 
to the almost boundless diversity of topics which in the 
course of his ministry he eithA* illustrated or enforced. 

March 1, 1843. 



VOL. I. 


PrOV. III. 17. 

Her ways are ways of pleasantness. P. 3. 

Some objections against this truth are removed, 4 — 9, and the duty of 
repentance represented under a mixture of sweetness, 8, 9. 
The excellencies of the pleasure of wisdom are enumerated : 

I. As it is the pleasure of the mind, 9, in reference, 1. To speculation, ih., 
on the account of the greatness, 10, and newness of the objects, ib. 2. To 
practice, 11. 

II. As it never satiates and wearies, 12. The comparison of other pleasures 
with it ; such as that of an epicure, ih., that of ambition, 13, that of friend- 
ship and conversation, 14. 

III. As it is in nobody's power, but only in his that has it, 15, which pro- 
perty and perpetuity is not to be found in worldly enjoyments, 15, 16. 

A consequence is drawn against the absurd austerities of the Romish pro- 
fession, 16. 

A short description of the religious pleasure, 17. 



Gen. I. 27. 

So God created man in his own image ; in the image of God created he him. 

P. 21. 

The several false opinions of the heathen philosophers concerning the 
original of the world, 21. 

The image of God in man considered, 22. 

I. Wherein it does not consist, adequately and formally ; not in power and 
dominion, as the Socinians erroneously assert, ib. 

II. Wherein it does consist : 1. in the universal rectitude of all the faculties 
of the soul, 23, viz. of his understanding, ib., both speculative, 24, 26, and 
practical, 25. Of his will, 26, concerning the freedom of it, 27. Of his 
passions, 28. Love, ib. Hatred, 29. Anger, ib. Joy, ib. Sorrow, ib. Hope, 
30. Fear, ib. 2. In those characters of majesty that God imprinted upon 
his body, 31, 32. 

VOL. I. b 


The consideration of tlie irreparable loss sustained in the fall of our first 
r.arents, 32, 33, and of the excellency of Christian religiou, designed by God 
lo repair the breaches of our humanity, 33. 


interest deposed, and truth restored. 
Matt. x. 33. 

But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I deny before my Father 

which «.y in heaven. P. 36. 

The occasion of those words inquired into, 36, and their explication, by 
being compared with other parallel scriptures, 37, and some observations de- 
duced from them, 3B. 

The explication of them, by showing, 

I. How many \Yays Christ and his truths may be denied, 39. 1. By an 
heretical judgaicnt, 39, 40. 2. By oral expressions, 40. 3. By our actions, 41. 

What denial is intended by these words, 42. 

II. The causes inducing men to deny Christ in his truths, 42. 1. The 
seeming absurdity of many truths, ib. 2. Their unprofitableness, 43, 44. 
3. Their apparent danger, 45. 

III. How far a man may consult his safety, in time of persecution, without 
denying Christ, 46. 1. By withdrawing his person, ib. 2. By concealing his 
judgment, ib. 

When those ways of securing ourselves are not lawful, 47. 

IV. What is meant by Christ's denial of us, 48, with reference, 1.. To the 
action itself, ib. 2. To its circumstances, 49. 

V. How many uses maybe drawn from the words, 60. 1. An exhortation, 
chiefly to persons in authority, to defend Christ in his truth, ib., and in his 
members, 51. 2. An information, to show us the danger as well as baseness 
of denying Christ, ib. 


ecclesiastical policy the best policy. 
1 Kings xiii. 33, 34. 

After this thing king Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again 
of the lowest q/' the people priests of the high places. Whosoever would, he 
consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. And 
this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to 
destroy it from off the face of the earth. P. 53. 

Jeroboam's historj' and practice, 53. Some observations from it, 55. An 
explication of the words, " high places," ib. ; and consecration, 56. 
The sense of the words drawn into two propositions, 

I. The means to strengthen or to ruin the civil power is either to establish 
or destroy' the right worship of God, 57. Of which proposition the truth is 
proved bj' all records of divine and profane history, ib. ; and the reason is 
drawn from the judicial proceeding of God ; and from the dependence of the 
principles of government upon religion, ib. 

From which may be inferred, 1. The pestilential design of disjoining the 
civil and ecclesiastical interest, 61. 2. The danger of any thing that may 
make even the true religion suspected to be false, 62. 

II. The way to destroy religion is to embase the dispensers of it, 63 : which 
is done, 1. By divesting them of all temporal privileges and advantages, ib. 
2. By admitting unworthy persons to this function, 66. By which means, 


1. ministers are brought under contempt, G8, .2 men of fit parts and abilities 
are discouraged from undertaking the ministry, 70, 
A brief recapitulation of the whole, 71. 



Titus ii. ult. 

These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man 

despise thee. P. 75. 

Titus supposed to be a bishop in all this epistle, 76, The duties of which 
place are, 

I. To teach, 76 ; either immediately by himself, 78, or mediately by the 
subordinate ministration of others, ib. 

II. To rule, 79, by an exaction of duty from persons under him, ib., bj' a 
protection of the persons under the discharge of their duty, 80 ; and by 
animadversion upon such as neglect it, ib. 

And the means better to execute those duties is, not to be despised, 82 ; in 
the handling of which prescription these things may be observed ; 

1. The ill effects that contempt has upon government, 82. 2. The causes 
upon which church-rulers are frequently despised. And thej' are, 

Either groundless ; such as their very profession itself, 84 ; loss of their 
former grandeur and privilege, 85. 

Or just ; such as ignorance, 85 ; viciousness, 86 ; fearfulness, ib. ; and a 
proneness to despise others, 87. 

The character of a clergyman, 88. 


WHY Christ's doctrine was rejected by the jews. 
John vii. 17. 

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, 
or whether I speak of myself. P. 89. 

An account of the Jewish and Christian economy, 89. 

The gospel must meet Avith a rightly disposed will, before it can gain the 
assent of the understanding, 90 ; which will appear from the following con- 
siderations ; 

I. What Christ's doctrine is, with relation to matters of belief, 91 ; and to 
matters of practice, ib. 

II. That men's unbelief of that doctrine was from no defect in the argu- 
ments, 92; whose strength was sufficient, from the completion of all the pre- 
dictions, 93, and the authority of miracles, ib. And whose insufficiency (if 
there could have been any) was not the cause of the unbelief of the Jews, 
94, who assented to things less evident, ib. ; neither evident nor certain, but 
only probable, ib- ; neither evident, uor certain, nor probable, but false and 
fallacious, 95. 

III. That the Jewish unbelief proceeded from the pravity of the will, 
influencing the understanding to a disbelief of Christianity, 95 ; the last being 
prepossessed with other notions ; and the first being wholly governed by 
covetousness and ambition, 96. 

IV. That a well disposed mind, with a readiness to obey the will of God, 
is the best means to enlighten the understanding to a belief of Christianity, 
97 ; upon the account both of God's goodness, ib., and of a natural efficienc}% 
98, arising from a right disposition of the will, which will engage the under- 
standing in the search of the truth through diligence, ib., and impartiality, 100. 

From which particulars may be learned, 1. The true cause of atheism and 
scepticism, 101. 2. The most effectual means of becoming good Christians, 

b 2 



god's peculiar regard to places set apart for divine worship. 

Psalm lxxxvii. 2. 
God hath loved the gates of Sion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. P. 106. 

All comparisons import, in tlie superior part of tliem, difference and pre- 
eminence, 106, and so from the comparison of this text arise these propo- 
sitions : 

.1 That God bears a different respect to consecrated places from -what he 
hears to all otliers, 106. Which difference he shows, 1. By the interposals of 
his Providence for the erecting and preserving of them, ib. 2. By his 
punisliments upon tlie violators of tliem, 109. 3. Not upon the account of 
any inherent sanctity in the things themselves ; but because he has the sole 
property of them, 112; by appropriating them to his peculiar use, 113; and 
bj' deed of gift made by surrender on man's part, ib. ; and by acceptance on 
his, 114. 

II. That God prefers the vporship paid to him in such places above tliat in 
all otliers, IIG; because, 1. Such places are naturally apt to excite a 
greater devotion, ib. 2. In them our worship is a more direct service and 
homage to him, 118, 

From all which we are taught to have these three ingredients in our devo- 
tion : desire, reverence, and confidence, 120. 


all contingencies under the direction of god's providence. 

Prov. XVI. 33. 
The lot is cast into the lap ; but the whole disposing of it is of the Lord, P. 121 . 

God's providence has its influence upon all things, even the most for- 
tuitous, such as the casting of lots, 121. Which things implying in them- 
selves somewhat future, and somewhat contingent, are 

I. In reference to men, out of the reach of their knowledge and of their 
power, 121. 

II. In reference to God, comprehended by a certain knowledge, 122 ; and 
governed by as certain a providence, 123 ; and by him directed to both cer- 
tain, 123, and great ends, 125; in reference, 

1. To societies or united bodies of men, 125. 2. To particular persons, 
■whether pubhc, as princes, 128 ; or private, touching their lives, 130, health, 
ib., reputation, 131, friendships, 132, employments, ib. 

Therefore we ought to rely on, divine providence ; and be neither too con- 
fident in prosperity', 134, nor too despondent in adversity, 135, but carry a 
conscience clear towards God, "who is the sole and absolute disposer of all 
things, 136. 


the wisdom of this world. 

1 Cor. III. 19. 

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. P. 137. 

Worldly wisdom, in scripture, is taken sometimes for philosophy, 137 ; 
sometimes, as here, for policy, ib. ; which, 

_I._ Governs its actions generally by these rules, 138. 1. By a constant 
dissimulation ; not a bare concealment of one's mind; but a man's positive 
professing what he is not, and resolves not to be, ib. 2. By submitting 
conscience and religion to one's interest, 140. 3. By making one's self the 
sole end of all actions, 141. 4. By having no respect to friendship, grati- 
tude, or sense of honour, 142. 
Which rules and principles arc. 


II. Foolish and absurd in reference to God, 144; because in the pursuit of 
them man pitches, 1. Upon an end unproportionable to the measure of liis 
duration, 144, or to the vastness of his desires, 145. 2. Upon means in 
themselves insufficient for, 146, and frequently contrary to the attaining of 
such ends, 147 ; which is proved to happen in the four foregoing rules of 
the worldly politician, 148. 

Therefore we ought to be sincere, 152, and commit our persons and con- 
cerns to the wise and good providence of God, 152. 


good intentions no excuse for bad actions. ' "^ ' 

2 Corinthians viii. 12. 

Tor if there he first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, 

and not according to that he hath not. P. 153. 

Men are apt to abuse the world and themselves in some general principles 
of action ; and particularly in this, that God accepts the will for the deed, 
153. The delusion of which! is laid open in these words, ib., expressing, 
that where there is no power God accepts the will ; but implying, that where 
there is he does not. So there is nothing of so fatal an import as the plea of 
a good intention, and of a good will, 154 ; for God requires the obedience of 
the whole man, and never accepts the will but as such, 156. Thence we may 
understand how far it holds good, that God accepts the will for the deed, 
ib. ; a rule whose 

1. Ground is founded upon that eternal truth, that God requires of man 
nothing impossible, 158; and consequently whose, 

2. Bounds are determined by what power man naturally hath, 158 ; but 

3. Misapphcation consists in these, 158. 1. That men often mistake for an 
act of the will, what really is not so, ib., as a bare approbation, ib. ; wish- 
ing, 159; mere inclination, 160. 2. That men mistake for impossibilities, 
things which are not trulj' so, 161 ; as in duties of very great labour, ib., 
danger, 162, cost, 165, in conquering an inveterate liabit, 168. 

Tlierefore there is not a weightier case of conscience, than to know, how 
far God accepts the will, and when men truly will a thing, and have really 
no power, 169. 


of the origin, nature, and baseness of the sin of ingratitude. 

Judges viii. 34, 35. 

And the children of Israel remembered not the Lord their God, who had de- 
livered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side : neither 
showed they kindness to the house of Jeruhhaul, namely, Gideon, according 
to all the goodness which he had showed unto Israel. P. 171. 

Tlie history of Gideon, and the Israelites' behaviour towards him, 171, are 
the subject and occasion of these words, which treat of their ingratitude both 
towards God and man, 172. This vice in this latter sense is described, ib., 
by showing, 

I. What gratitude is, 173 ; what are its parts, ib. ; what grounds it hath 
in the law of nature, 174, of God's word, ]75, of man, 176. 

II. The nature and baseness of ingratitude, 178. 

III. That ingratitude proceeds from 'a proneness to do ill turns, with a com- 
placency upon the sight of any mischief befalling another ; and from an utter 
insensibility of all kindnesses, 179. 

IV. That it is always attended with many other ill qualities, 180; pride, 
ib., hard-heartedness, 182, and falsehood, 183. Tlierefore, 

V. Wliat consequences may be drawn fiom the premises, 184. 1. Never 
to enter into a league of friendship with an ungrnteful person, z'/. Because, 


2. he cannot be altered by any acts of kindness, ib. ; and, 3. He has no 
true sense of religion, 185. Exhortation to gratitude as a debt to God, 186. 



PrOV, XII. 82. 

Lying lips are abomination to the Lord. P. 187. 

Tlie universality of lying is described, 187. And this vice is further prose- 
cuted, bj- showing, 

I. The nature of it, 188. Wherein it consists, and the unlawfulness of all 
sorts of lies, whether pernicious, officious, or jocose, 189. 

II. The effects of it, 192 ; all sins that came into the world, 192, all mise- 
ries that befall mankind, ib., an utter dissolution of all society, 195, an 
indisposition to the impressions of religion, 197. 

III. The punishments of it : the loss of all credit, 198; the hatred of all 
wlioni the liar has or would have deceived, 199 ; and an eternal separation 
from God, 201. 

All which particulars are briefly summed up, 202. 



Prov. X. 9. 

He that walketh uprightly, walketh surely. P. 207. 
The life of man is in scripture expressed by walking ; which to do surely, 
great caution must be taken not to lay down false principles, or mistake in 
consequences from right ones, 207 ; but to walk uprightly, under the notion 
of an infinite mind governing the world, and an expectation of another state 
hereafter, 208. Which two principles will secure us in all our actions, whe- 
ther the}" be considered, 

I. As true, 208. The folly of a sinner presuming upon God's mercy, 210. 
Or relying upon a future repentance, 211. Or whether supposed, 

II. As only probable, 212. No man, inmost temporal concerns, acts upon 
surer grounds than of probability, 218. And self-preservation will oblige a 
man to undergo a lesser evil to secure himself from the probability of a 
greater, 214. Probability supposes that a thing mayor may not be; both 
which are examined with relation to a future state, 214. 

III. As false, 21G. Under this supjDOsition the virtuous walketh more 
surely than the wicked, with reference to temporal enjo3'ments : reputation, 
216, quietness, 217, health, 218. Answer to an objection, that many sinners 
enjoy all these, 219. 

Thence we may perceive the folly of atheistical persons, 220, and learn to 
walk uprightly, as the best ground for our present and future happiness, 222. 


of the superlative love of christ to his disciples. 
John xv. 15. 

Henceforth I call you not servants ; for the servant knows not what his lord 

docth ; but 1 have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my 

Father, have I made known unto you. P. 224. 

The superlative love of Christ appears in tlie several degrees of his kindness 
to man, before he was created, 224 ; when created, ib. ; when fallen, 225 ; 
whom even he not only spared, but, from the number of subjects, took into 
the retinue of his servants, and further advanced to tlie privilege of a friend, 
ib. The difference between which two appellations is this: 

I. That a servant is for the most part, 1. Unacquainted with his master's 


designs, 226. 2. Restrained with a degenerous awe of mind, 227. 3. In- 
dued with a mercenary disposition, 227. 

II. That a friend is blessed with many privileges; as, 1. Freedom of 
access, 228. 2. Favourable construction of all passages, 229. 3. Sympathy' in 
joy and grief, 231. 4. Communication of secrets, 232. 5. Counsel and ad- 
vice, 234. 6. Constancy and perpetuity, 2.3-5. 

In every one of which particulars, the excellency of Christ's friendship 
shining forth, 236, we may learn the high advantage of true piety, 237. 


ECCLES. V. 2. 

Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing 

before God ; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth ; therefore let thy 

words be few. P. 240. 

Solomon having been spoken to by God himself, and so the fittest to teach 
us how to speak to God, here observes to us, that when we are in God's 
house, we are more especially in his presence ; that this ought to create a 
reverence in our addresses to him, and that this reverence consists in the 
preparation of our thoughts, and the government of our expressions, 240; 
the two great joint ingredients of prayer, ib. Of which. 

The first is, premeditation of thought, 245. 

Tlie second is, ordering of our words by pertinence and brevity of ex- 
pression, 255. 

Because prayer prevails upon God ; 

Not as it does with men, by way of information, 241 ; persuasion, ib ; 
importunity, ib. An objection to this last is answered, 244. 

But as it is the fulfilling of that condition upon which God dispenseth his 
blessings to mankind, 242. An objection to this is removed, ib. 

As it is most properly an act of dependence upon God, 244 ; a dependence 
not natural, but moral ; for else it would belong indifferently to the wicked 
as well as to the just, ib. 

I. Premeditation ought to respect, 1. The object of our praj'ers ; God and 
liis divine perfections, 246. 2. The matter of our prayers, 247 : either things 
of absolute necessity, as the virtues of a pious life ; or of unquestionable 
charity, as the innocent comforts of it, 248. 3, The order and disposition of 
our prayers, 249 : by excluding every thing which maj' seem irreverent, in- 
coherent, and impertinent; absurd and irrational; rude, slight, and careless, 
249. ' 

Therefore all Christian churches have governed their public worship by a 
liturgy or set form of prayer, 250. Which way of praying is, trul}-. 

To pray by the spirit ; that is, with the heart, not hypocritically ; and ac- 
cording to the rules prescribed by God's Holy Spirit, not unwarrantably^, or 
by a pretence to immediate inspiration, 251 . 

Not to stint, but help and enlarge the spirit of prayer, 252 ; for the soul, 
being of a limited nature, cannot at the same time supply two distinct facul- 
ties to the same height of operation ; words are the work of the brain ; and 
devotion, properly the business of the heart, indispensably required in 
prayer, 253. 

Whereas on the contrary, extemporary prayers stint the spirit, by calling 
off the faculties of the soul from dealing with the heart both in the minister 
and in the people, 253. And besides, they are prone to encourage pride 
and ostentation, 254 ; faction and sedition, 255. 

II. Brevity of expression the greatest perfection of speech, 256; autho- 
rized by both divine, ib., and human examples, 258; suited best to the 
modesty, 259, discretion, ib., and respect required in all suppliants, 260. 
Is still further enforced in our addresses to God by these arguments, 260: 
1. That all the reasons for prolixity of speech with men cease to be so when 


we pray to God, ih. 2. That there are but few things necessary to be 
prayed for, 264. 3. That the person who prays cannot keep up the same fer- 
vour and attention in a long as in a short prayer, 265. 4, That shortnessof 
speech is the most natural and lively way of expressing the utmost agonies 
of the soul, 266. 5. That we have examples in scripture both of brevity and 
prohxity of speech in prayer, as of brevity in the Lord's prayer, 267 ; the 
practice of it in our Saviour himself, ib. ; the success of it in several instan- 
ces ; as of the leper, of the blind man, and of the publican, 268. Whereas 
.the heathens and the pharisees, the grand instances of idolatry and hypocrisy, 
are noted for prolixit}', 268. 

By these rules we may judge, 1. Of our church's excellent liturgy ; for its 
brevity and fulness, for the frequent opportunity of mentioning the name and 
some great attribute of God ; for its alternate responses, which thing pro- 
perly denominates it a Book of Common Prayer, 269 ; for appointing even a 
form of prayer before sermons, 270. 2. Of" the dissenters' prayers, always 
notable for length and tautology, incoherence and confusion, 271. 

And, after this comparison, pronounce our liturgy the greatest treasure of 
rational devotion ; and pray God would vouchsafe long to continue to us the 
use of it, 272. 



Romans i. 82. 
Who hnowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are 

worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do 
i them. P. 273. 

The sin of taking pleasure in other men's sins is not only distinct from, 
but also much greater than all those others mentioned in the foregoing cata- 
logue, 273. To arrive at which pitch of sinning there is a considerable diffi- 
culty, 276 ; because every man has naturally a distinguishing sense of good 
and evil, and an inward satisfaction or dissatisfaction after the doing of 
either, and cannot quickly or easily extinguish this principle, but by another 
inferior principle gratified with objects contrary to the former, 274, 275. 
And consequently no man is quickl}^ or easily brought to take pleasure in his 
own, much less in other men's sins, 276. Of which sin, 

I. The causes are, 1. The commission of the same sins in one's own per- 
son, 276. 2. The commission of them against the full conviction of con- 
science, 277. 3. The continuance in them, 279. 4. The inseparable poor- 
spiritedness of guilt, which is less uneasy in company, 280. 5. A peculiar 
unaccountable malignity of nature, 282. 

II. The reasons why the guilt of that sin is so great, are, 1. That there is 
naturally no motive to tempt men to it, 284. 2. That the nature of this sin 
is boundless and unlimited, 286. 3. That this sin includes in it the guilt of 
many preceding ones, 287. 

III. Tlie persons guilty of that sin are generally such as draw others to it, 
289; particularly, 1. who teach doctrines, ih,, which represent sinful actions, 
either as not sinful, 290, or as less sinful tlian they really are, 291, Censure 
of some modern casuists, 292. 2. Wlio allure men to sin through formal 
persuasion or inflaming objects, 293. 3. Who affect the con^.pany of vicious 
persons, 295. 4. Who encourage others in their sins by commendation, ib., 
or preferment, 296. 

Lastly, the effects of this sin are, 1. Upon particular persons; that it 
quite depraves the natural frame of the heart, 297 ; it indisposes a man to 
repent of it, 298 ; it grows the more, as a man lives longer, ib. ; it will damn 
more surelj', because man}' are damned who never arrived to this pitch, 300. 
2. Upon communities of men ; that it propagates the practice of anj' sin, 
till it becomes national, ih. ; especially where great sinners make their depen- 
dents their proselytes, 301, and the follies of the young carry with them the 
approbation of the old, ib. This the reason of the late increase of vice, 302. 



sinners inexcusable from natural religion only. 

Romans i. 20. 

So that they are without excuse. P. 803. 

The apostle in this epistle addresses himself chiefly to the Jews ; but in 
this first. chapter he deals with the Greeks and gentiles, 303, whom he charges 
with an inexcusable sinfulness, 303. And the charge contains in this and in 
the precedent and subsequent verses, 

I. The sin [that knowing God they did not glorify him as God, ver. 21] : 
Idolatry ; not that kind of one which worships that for God which is not 
God ; but the other, which worships the true God by the mediation of 
corporeal resemblances, 304. 

II. The persons guilty of this sin [such as professed themselves wise, ver. 
22] : not the Gnostics, but the old heathen philosophers, 305. 

III. The cause of that sin [holding the truth in unrighteousness, ver. 18], 
300, that the truths which they were accoimtable for, viz. 1. The being of a 
God, 307 ; 2. That he is the maker and governor of the world, ib. ; 3. That 
he is to be worshipped, ib:; 4. That he is to be worshipped by pious prac- 
tices, ib. ; 5. That everj' deviation from duty is to be repented of, ib. ; 6. 
That every guilty person is obnoxious to punishment, 308; 

Were by them held in unrighteousness, 1 . By not acting up to what they 
knew, 308. 2. Hy not improving those known principles into proper con- 
sequences, 309. 3. By concealing what they knew, 310. 

IV. The judgment passed upon them [that thej^ were without excuse, 
ver. 20], 312 ; that they were unfit not only for a pardon, but even for a plea, 
313. Because, 

1. The freedom of the will, which they generally asserted, excluded them 
from the plea of unwillingness, 313. 2. The knowledge of their understand- 
ing excluded them from the plea of ignorance, 314. 

From all these we may consider, 

1. The great mercy of God in the revelation of the gospel, 315. 

2. The deplorable condition of obstinate sinners under it, 817- 


of a worthy preparation for the sacrament of the eucharist. 

Matt, xxvii. 12. 

And he saith unto him. Friend, how earnest thou hither, not having a wedding- 
garment? P. 318. 

The design of this parable, under the circumstantial passages of a wed- 
ding's royal solemnity, is to set forth th^ free offer of the gospel to the Jews 
first, and, upon their refusal, to the gentiles, 818. But it may be more 
peculiarly applied to the holy Eucharist ; which not only by analogy, but 
with propriety of speech, and from the very ceremony of breaking bread, may 
very well be called a wedding-supper, 819 ; to the worthy participation 
whereof there is indispensably required a suitable and sufficient preparation, 
320. In which these conditions are required ; 

1. That the preparation be habitual, 323. 

2. That it be also actual, 325 ; of which the principal ingredients are, 
1. Self-examination, 327; 2. Repentance, 828; 3. Prayer, 329 ; 4. Fasting, 
330 ; 5. Alms-giving, 831 ; 6. Charitable temper of mind, 332 ; 7. Reading 
and meditation, 338. 

[The reverend author seemed to have designed another discourse upon this 
text, because in this sermon he only despatches the first part, viz. The 
necessitj' of preparation ; but proceeds not to the second, viz. That God is a 
severe animadverter upon such as partake without such a preparation, 820.] 



the fatal imposture and force of words. 

Isaiah v. 20. 

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil. P. 334. 

[Vol. ii. Serm. xxix. p. 500. Serm. xxx. p. 519. Vol. iii. Serm. i.] 

Here a woe is denounced against those, not only in particular, who 
judicially pronounce the guilty innocent, and the innocent guilty ; but, in 
general, who, by abusing men's minds with false notions, make evil pass for 
good, and good for evil, 334. And in the examination of this vile practice it 
will be necessary, 

I. To examine the nature of good and evil, what they are, and upon what 
they are founded, viz. Upon the conformity or unconformity to right reason, 
336. Not upon the opinion, 337, or laws of men, ib. ; because then, 1. The 
same action under the same circumstances might be both morally good and 
morally evil, 339. 2. The laws could neither be morally good nor evil, ib. 
3. The same action might be in respect of the divine law, commanding it, 
morally good; and, of a human, forbidding it, morally evil, ib. 

But that the nature of good and evil is founded upon a jus naturale, ante- 
cedent to all jus positivum, may be exemplified in those two moral duties, 
towards God and towards one's neighbour, 340. 

IT. To show the way how good and evil operate upon men's minds, viz. by 
their respective names or appellations, 341 . 

III. To show the mischief arising from the misapplication of names, 342. 
For since, 1. The generality of men are absolutely governed by words and 
names, 842. And, 2. Chiefly in matters of good and evil, 345 ; which are 
commonly taken upon trust, by reason of the frequent affinity between vice 
and virtue, 346 ; and of most men's inability to judge exactly of things, ib. 
Thence may be inferred the comjirehensive mischief of this misapplication, by 
which man is either, 1. deceived, 348; or, 2. misrepresented, 349. 

Lastly, To assign several instances, wherein those mischievous effects do 
actually show themselves. Vol. ii. p. 500. 

I. In religion and church, 501; such as calling, 1. The religion of the 
church of England, popery, 502 ; which calumny is confuted, from the 
carriage of the church of Rome towards the church of England, 503 ; and 
from the church of England's denying the chief articles of the church of 
Rome, 503 ; 2. Schismatics, true protestants, 507 ; against whom it is proved, 
that they and the papists are not such irreconcilable enemies as they pretend 
to be, 507. 3. The last subversion of the church, reformation, 510; which 
mistaken word turned the monarchy into an anarchy, 510; 4. The execution 
of the laws, persecution, 511 ; by which sophistry the great disturbers of our 
church pass for innocent, and the laws are made the only malefactors, 511 ; 
5. Base compliance and half-conformity, moderation, 512, both in church 
governors, 513, and civil magistrates, 514. 

A terrible instance of pulpit-impostors seducing the minds of men, 517. 

II. In the civil government, 520, 522 (with an apology for a clergj'man's 
treating upon this subject, 520); such as calling, 1. Monarchy, arbitrary' 
power, 52.3 ; 2. The prince's friends, evil counsellors, 526 ; 3. The enemies 
both of prince and people, public spirits, 528 ; 4. Malicious and ambitious 
designs, liberty and property, and the rights of the subject, 531. Together 
with a discovery of the several fallacies couched under those words, 525, 
527, 529, 5.32. 

The necessity of reflecting frequently upon the great long rebellion, 5.33. 

III. In private interests of particular persons, vol. iii. 3; such as calling, 
1. Revenge, a sense of honour, 3; 2. Bodily abstinence with a demure 
affected countenance, piety and mortification, 6; 3. Unalterable malice, con- 
stancy, 7; 4. A temper of mind resolved not to cringe and fawn, pride, and 
morosity, and ill-nature, 8; and, on the contrary, flattery and easy simplicity. 


and good fellowship, good-nature, 10 ; 5. Pragmatical meddling with other- 
men's matters, fitness for business, 11. Add to these, the calling covetoiis- 
ness, good husbandry, 12, prodigality, liberality, 1.3, justice, cruelty, and 
cowardice, mercy, 13. 

A general survey and recollection of all that has been said on this immense 
subject, 13. 


prevention of sin an invaluable mercy. 

1 Samuel xxv. 82, 33. 

And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent thee 
this day to meet me. And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, who hast 
kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with 
my own hand. P. 351. 

This is David's retractation of his revenge resolved upon an insolent wealthy 
rustic, who had most unthankfuUy rejected his request with railing at his 
person and messengers, 351. From which we may, 

I. Observe the greatness of sin-preventing mercy, 352. Which appears, 
1. From the deplorable condition of the sinner, before that mercy prevents 
him, 352. 2. From the cause of that mercy, which is God's free grace, 355. 
3. From the danger of sin unprevented ; which will then be certainly com- 
mitted ; and, in such deliberate commission, there is a greater probability that 
it will not, than that it will be pardoned, 356 ; because every commission 
hardens the soul in that sin, and disposes the soul to proceed further, and it 
is not in the sinner's power to repent, 357. 4. From the advantages of the 
prevention of sin above those of the pardon of it, 358 ; which are the clear- 
ness of a man's condition, ib., and the satisfaction of his mind, 359. 

II. Make several useful applications, 3G0. As, 1. To learn how vastly 
greater the pleasure is upon the forbearance, than in the commission of sin, 
860. 2. To find out the disposition of one's heart by this sure criterion, with 
what ecstasy he receives s. spiritual blessing, 360. 2. To be content, and 
thankfully to acquiesce in any condition and under the severest passages of 
providence, 862 ; with relation to health, ib., reputation, ib., and wealth, 363. 


an account of the nature and measures of conscience. 

1 John hi. 21. 

Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, we have confidence towards God. 

P. 865, 383. 

It is of great moment and difiiculty to be rationally satisfied about the 
estate of one's soul, 865 ; in which weighty concern we ought not to rely 
upon such uncertain rules, ib., as these: 1. The general esteem of the 
world, ib. 2. The judgment of any casuist, 366. 3. "rhe absolution of any 
priest, 868. 4. The external profession even of a true rehgion, 369. 

But a man's own heart and conscience, above all other things, is able to 
give him confidence towards God, 370. In order to which we must know, 

I. How the heart or conscience ought to be informed, 871, viz. by right 
reason and scripture, 372, and endeavouring- to employ the utmost of our 
ability, to get the clearest knowledge of our duty ; and thus to come to that 
confidence, which, though it amounts not to an infallible demonstration, yet 
is a rational well-grounded hope, ib. 

II. By what means we may get our hearts thus informed, 374, viz. 1. By a 
Careful attention to the dictates of reason and natural morality, ib. 2. By a 
tender regard to every pious motion of God's Spirit, 375. 3. By a study of 
the revealed word of God, 877. 4. By keeping a frequent and impartial 
account with our conscience, 378. 



With tins caution, lest either, on the one side, every doubting may over- 
throw our confidence ; or, on the other, a bare silence of conscience raise it 
too much, 380. 

III. Whence the testimony of conscience is so authentic, 384, viz. 1. Be- 
cause it is commissioned to tliis office by God himself, ib. : and there is 
examined the absurdity and impertinence, 386, the impudence and impiety 
of false pretences of conscience, 390 ; such particularly as those of schis- 
matical dissenters, 389, who oppose the solemn usages of our church; the 
necessity of which is founded upon sound reason, ib. 2. Because it is quick 
sighted, 393, tender and sensible, 394, exactly and severely impartial, 39-5. 

IV. Some particular instances, wherein this confidence suggested by con- 
science exerts itself, 39G, viz. 1. In our addresses to God liy prayer, ib. 
2. At the time of some notable sharp trial, 397 ; as poverty, 398, calumny 
and disgrace^ ib. 3. Above all others, at the time of death, 899. 


the doctrine of merit stated. 

Job xxii. 2. 

Can a man be profitable to God ? P. 404. 

It is an impossible thing for man to merit of God, 404. And although, 
I. Men are naturally prone to persuade themselves they can merit, 406; 

1. They naturally place too high a value upon themselves and perform- 
ances, 40*6 ; 

2. They measure their apprehensions of God by what thej^ observe of 
worldly princes, 407 ; yet, 

II. Such a persuasion is false and absurd, 408, because the conditions re- 
quired in merit are wanting : viz. 

1. Tliat the action be not due, 408. But man lies under an indispensable 
obligation of duty to God, by the law of nature, as God's creature, 409, and 
servant, 410, and by God's positive law, 411. 

2. Tliat the action ma}^ add to the state of the person of whom it is to 
merit, 411. But God is a perfect being, wanting no supply, 412 ; and man 
is an inconsiderable creature, beholden for every thing to every part of the 
creation, ib. 

3. That the action and reward may be of an equal value, 413; which can- 
not be in the best of our relisjious performances, 414; notwithstandinof the 
popish distinction between merit of condignity and congruity, ib. 

4. That the action be done by the man's sole power, without the help of 
him of whom he is to merit, 416. But God worketh in us not only to do, 
but also to will, ib. 

III. This persuasion hath been the foundation of great corruptions in re- 
ligion, 417 ; viz., Pelagianism, ib., and poperj', 419. 

But though we are not able to merit, yet, 

IV. This ought not to discourage our obedience, 419. Since, 

1. A beggar may ask an alms, which he cannot claim as his due, 420. 
^ 2. God's immutable veracity and promise will oblige him to reward our 
sincere obedience, 420. 


of the light within us. "' 

Luke xi. 35. 

Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. P. 422. 

Tlie light within us, or right reason, is our conscience, whose duties are to 
inform and to oblige; which is capable of being turned into darkness; a very 


considerable evil, and a great danger of falling into it, 422. The cause of 
this light's being darkened is, 

I. In general; every thing which either defiles the conscience, 420, or 
weakens it by putting a bias upon its judging faculty, 428. 

II. In particular; every kind and degree of sin considered, 

1. In the act, 428. And thus every commission of any great sin darkens 
the conscience, 429. 

2. In the habit, 430. And thus the repeated practice of sin puts out its 

light, ib. . 

3. In the principle, 431. And thus every vicious affection perverts the 
judo-ing, and darkens the discerning power of conscience, 431. Such as, 1. 
Sen'suality, 432 ; by the false pleasures of lust, 43-3, of intemperance, 434 ; 
2. Covetousness, 435; 3. Ambition or pride, 436; and many others be- 
sides, 438. 

Thence a man may learn what he is to avoid, that he may have a clear, 
impartial, and right judging conscience, 438. 


of loving our enemies. ' ''=^ 

Matthew v. 44. 
But I say unto you, Love your enemies. P. 440. 

The duty here enjoined by Christ is not opposed to the Mosaic law, but to 
the doctrine of the scribes and pharisees, 440. For the matter of all the 
commandments, except the fourth, is of natural, moral right, ib. ; and there is 
no addition of any new precepts, but only of some particular instances of 
duty, 441 ; with an answer to some objections concerning the commands of 
loving God with all our heart, 442, and laj'ing down our life for our brother, 
443, Then it is proved, that Christ opposed not Moses' law as faulty or 
imperfect, but only the comments of the scribes and pharisees upon or rather 
against it, 444. Among th^ duties here enjoined by Christ, is to love our 
enemies, 445 : by which, 

I. Negatively, 445, is not meant 

I. A fair deportment and amicable language, 445. 
, 2. Fair promises, 447. 

3. A few kind offices, 448. But, 

II. Positively, 449, is meant, 

1. A discharging the mind of all the leaven of malice, 449. 

2. The doing all real offices of kindness that opportunity shall lay in the 
way, 450. 

3. The praying for them, 451. 

All which are not inconsistent with a due care of defending and securing 
ourselves against them, 452. 

III. This love of enemies may be enforced by many arguments drawn 

1 . Their condition ; as they are joined with us in the community of the 
same nature, 453 ; or (as it may happen) of the same religion, ib., or as they 
may be capable, if not of being made friends, yet of being shamed and ren- 
dered inexcusable, 454. 

2. The excellency of the duty itself, 454. 

3. The great example of our Saviour, 455 ; and that of a king, upon the 
commemoration of whose nativity and return this sermon was preached, 456. 

Lastly, because this duty is so difficult, we ought to beg God's assistance 
against the opposition which flesh and blood will make to it, 456. 



false foundations removed, and true ones laid. 

Matthew vii. 26, 27. 

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall he 
likened to a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand : and the rain 
descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that 
house ; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. P. 458. 

Our Saviour teaches us not to build upon a deceitful bottom, in tlie great 
business of our eternal happiness, 459 ; but only upon practice and obedience : 

I. That is the best and surest foundation, 459; being, 

1. The only thing that can mend our corrupt nature, 459. 

2. The highest perfection of our nature, 4G0. 

3. The main end of religion, 460 ; as the designs of it in this world are 
the honour of God, 461 ; and the advantage of society, ib. 

II. All other foundations are false, 462; such as 

1. A naked unoperative faith, 462. 

2. The goodness of the heart and honesty of intention, 463. 

3. Party and singularity, 464; because the piety of no party can sanctify 
its proselytes, 465 ; and such an adhesion to a party carries with it much of 
spiritual pride in men, who naturally have a desire of preeminence, and a 
spirit of opposition to such as are not of their own way, ib. 

III. Such false foundations, upon trial, will be sure to fall, 466 ; which 
is shown from 

1. The devil's force and opposition, 466 ; which is sudden and unexpected, 
ib. ; furious and impetuous, 467 ; restless and importunate, ib. 

2. The impotence and non-resistance of the soul, 468; which is frequently 
unprepared, weak, and inconstant, 468, 469. 

IV. Tlie fall will be very great, 469 ; being scandalous and diffusive, ib, ; 
hardly and very rarely recoverable, 470. 

Therefore no man must venture to build his ^vation upon false and sink- 
ing grounds, 470 ; but only upon such terms asUod will deal with him, viz., 
a perfect obedience, 471 . 


a true state and account of the plea of a tender conscience. 

1 Corinthians viii. 12. 

But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye 

sin against Christ. P. 473. 

The apostle treateth of a weak conscience in new converts from Judaism 
[in Rom. xiv.] and from heathenism [here] 473, in these words; towards the 
understanding of which we must know, 

I. What a weak conscience is, 475; not that which is improperly called 
tender, ib., but the weakness here spoken of is opposed to faith, 476 ; and 

1. The ignorance of some action's lawfulness, 476; not wilful, but such a 
one as is excusable, and the object of pity, ib., arising from the natural weak- 
ness of the understanding, or from the want of opportunity or means of 
knowledge, 477. 

2. The suspicion of some action's unlawfulness, 478. 

8. A religious abstinence from the use of that thing, of the unlawfulness 
whereof it is ignorant or suspicious, 478. 

II. How such a weak conscience is wounded, 479; viz. 
1. By being grieved and robbed of its peace, 479. 


2. By being emboldened to act against its present persuasion, 479; either 
tbrough example, ib., or tlirough a command, with the conjunction of some 
reward or penalty, 480, descending from a private or a public person, ib. 

III. We may thence infer : 

1. That none having been brought up and long continued in the commu- 
nion of a true church, having withal the use of his reason, can justly plead 
weakness of conscience, 481. 

2. That such a weakness can upon no sufficient ground be continued in, 483. 

3. That the plea of it ought not to be admitted in prejudice of the laws, 
which are framed for the good not of any particular persons, but of the com- 
munity, 484. For tlie ill consequences would be, that there could be no 
limits assigned to this plea, 485, nor any evidence of its sincerity, ib., and this 
would absolutely bind the magistrate's hands, 486. 

Besides, such pleas are usually accompanied with partiality, 487, and hypo- 
cris}', such as those of the dissenters, ib., which upon the foregoing reasons 
ought not to be allowed, 488. 


christianity mysterious, and the wisdom of god in making it so. ^ 

1 Corinthians ii. 7. 

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery. P. 489. 

The apostle's design here is to set forth the transcendent worth of the gospel 
by two qualifications eminently belonging to it, 489, viz. 

I. That is the wisdom of God, 489 ; a wisdom respecting speculation, and 
here principally relating to practice, ih. ; a wisdom as irresistibly powerful, as 
it is infallible, 490. 

II. That this wisdom is in a mystery, 490. 

1. In the nature of the things treated of in the Christian religion, 491 ; 
which are of difficult apprehension for their greatness, ib. spirituality, 492, 
strangeness, 493; as may be exemplified in two principal articles of it, re- 
generation, 494, and the resurrection, ib. 

2. In the ends of it, 495 ; it is as much the design of religion to oblige 
men to believe the credenda as to practise the agenda ; and there is as clear 
a reason for the belief of the one, as for the practice of the other, ib. But 
their raysteriousness, 1. makes a greater impression of awe, 496; 2. humbles 
the pride of men's reason, 498; 3. engnges us in a more diligent search, 499; 
4. will, when fully revealed, make part of our happiness hereafter, 501 . 

Thence we may learn in such important points of religion, 

1. To submit to the judgment of the whole church in general, and of our 
spiritual guides in particular, 502. 

2. Not to conclude every thing impossible, which to our reason is unintel- 
ligible, 504. 

3. Nor by a vain presumption to pretend to clear up all mysteries in 
religion, 504. 



Rev. XXII. 16. 

/ am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 

P. 507. 

In this book of mysteries nothing is more mysterious than what is con- 
tained in these words, the union of the divinity and humanity in our Saviour's 
person, 507- He is, 

I. In his divinity, the root of David ; having a being before him, 508 ; a 
being which had no beginning, equal to his Father : though his divinity is de- 


iiied by the Arians : and his pre-existence to liis humanity by the Socinians, 

II. In his humanit}', the offspring of David, 511 ; being, in St. Matthew's 
genealogy, naturally the son of David ; and, in that of St. Luke, legally the 
king of the Jews, 513. 

III. The bright and morning star, 517, with relation, 

1. To the nature of its substance : he was pure, without the least imper- 
fection, 517 ; 

2. To the manner of its appearance : he appeared small in his humanit}', 
though he was the great almighty God, 518 ; 

3. To the quality of its operation, 519; open and visible by his light, 
chasing away the heathenish false worship, the imperfect one of the Jews, 
and all pretended Messiahs, 519, 520 ; secret and invisible by his influence, 
illuminating our judgment, bending our will, and at last changing the whole 
man, 621. 


jesus of nazareth proved the true and only messiah. 

John i. 11. 
He came to his own, and his own received him not. P. 523. 

No scripture has so directly and immoveably stood in the way of the 
several opposers of the divinity of our Saviour, as this chapter, 523, whereof 
this text is a part : in which we have, 

I. Christ's coming into the world, 524 ; who 

1. Was the second person in the glorious Trinity, the ever blessed and 
eternal Son of God, 624. 

2. Came from the bosom of liis Father, and the incomprehensible glories of 
the Godhead, 527. 

3. Came to the Jews, who were his own by right of consanguinity, 528. 

4. When they were in their lowest estate, 529 ; national, ib., and ecclesi- 
astical, 530. In which we may consider the invincible strength and the im- 
moveable veracity of God's promise, ib. 

II. Christ rejected by his own, 531. For the Jews' 

1. Exceptions were, 1. That he came not as a temporal prince, 532. 2. 
Tliat he set himself against Moses' law, ib. 

2. The unreasonableness of which exceptions appears from this : 1. That 
the Messiah's blessings were not to be temporal, 538 ; and he himself, accord- 
ing to all the' prophecies of scripture, was to be of a low, despised estate, 
534. 2. That Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfil and abrogate Moses' 
law, 535. 

3. The Jews had great reasons to induce them to receive him. For, 1. 
All the marks of the Messiah did most eminently appear in him, 536. 2. 
His whole behaviour among them was a continued act of mercy and cha- 
rity, 537. 

Lastly, the Jews are not the only persons concerned in this guilt, but also 
all vicious Christians, 539. 






My Lord, 

Though to prefix so great a name to so mean a piece, seems like 
enlarging the entrance of a house that affords no reception ; yet since 
there is nothing can Avarrant the publication of it, but what can also 
command it, the work must think of no other patronage than the same 
that adorns and protects its author. Some indeed vouch great names, 
because they think they deserve ; but I, because I need such : and had 
I not more occasion than many others to see and converse with your 
Lordship's candour and proneness to pardon, there is none had greater 
cause to dread your judgment ; and thereby, in some part, I venture to 
commend my own. For all know, who know your Lordship, that in a 
nobler respect than either that of government or patronage, you repre- 
sent and head the best of universities, and have travelled over too many 
nations and authors to encourage any one that understands himself, to 
appear an author in your hands, who seldom read any books to inform 
yourself, but only to countenance and credit them. But, my Lord, what 

VOL. I. B 


is here published pretends no instruction, but only homage ; while it 
teaches many of the world, it only describes your Lordship, who have 
made the ways of labour and virtue, of doing, and doing good, your 
business and your recreation, your meat and your drink, and I may add 
also, your sleep. My Lord, the subject here treated of is of that nature 
that it would seem but a chimera, and a bold paradox, did it not in the 
very front carry an instance to exemplify it, and so by the dedication 
convince the world, that the discourse itself was not impracticable. 
For such ever was, and is, and will be the temper of the generality of 
mankind, that, while I send men for pleasure to religion, I cannot but 
expect, that they will look upon me as only having a mind to be plea- 
sant with them myself; nor are men to be worded into new tempers or 
constitutions : and he that thinks that any one can persuade, but he that 
made the world, will find that he does not well understand it. 

My Lord, I have obeyed your command, for such must I account 
your desire ; and thereby design, not so much the publication of my 
sermon as of my obedience : for, next to the supreme pleasure de- 
scribed in the ensuing discourse, I enjoy none greater, than in having 
any opportunity to declare myself, 

Your Lordship's^very humble Servant, 

and obliged Chaplain, 

Robert South. 



[Preached before the Court at Christ Church Chapel.] 

Prov. III. 17- 
Her ways are timys of pleasantness. 

The text, relating to something going before, must carry our 
eye back to the thirteenth verse, where we shall find, that the 
thing, of which these words are affirmed, is Wisdom : a name 
by which the Spirit of God was here pleased to express to us re- 
ligion, and thereby to tell the world, what before it was not 
aware of, and perhaps will not yet believe, that those two great 
things that so engross the desires and designs of both the nobler 
and ignobler sort of mankind, are to be found in religion, namely, 
wisdom and pleasure ; and that the former is the direct Avay to 
the latter, as religion is to both. 

That pleasiu-e is man's chiefest good (because indeed it is the 
perception of good that is properly pleasure), is an assertion most 
certainly true, though, under the common acceptance of it, not 
only false, but odious : for, according to this, pleasure and sen- 
suality pass for tenns equivalent ; and, therefore, he that takes 
it in this sense alters the subject of the discourse. Sensuality 
is indeed a part, or rather one kind, of pleasure, such a one as it 
is : for pleasure, in general, is the consequent apprehension of a 
suitable object, suitably applied to a rightly-disposed faculty; 
and so must be conversant both about the faculties of the body 
and of the soul respectively ; as being the result of the fruitions 
belonging to both. 

Now amongst those many arguinents used to press upon men 
the exercise of religion, I know none that are like to be so suc- 
cessful, as those that answer and remove the prejudices that 
generally possess and bar up the hearts of men against it : 
amongst whict, there is none so prevalent in truth, though so 

B 2 


little owned in pretence, as that it is an enemy to men's pleasures, 
that it bereaves them of all the sweets of converse, dooms them 
to an absurd and perj^etual melancholy, designing to make the 
world nothing else but a great monastery. With which notion 
of religion, nature and reason seem to have great cause to be 
dissatisfied. For, since God never created any faculty, either in 
soul or body, but withal prepared for it a suitable object, and 
that in order to its gratification ; can we think that religion Avas 
designed only for a contradiction to nature ? And, with the 
greatest and most irrational tyranny in the world, to tantalize 
and tie men up from enjoyment, in the midst of all the opportu- 
nities of enjoyment ? To place men with the furious affections 
of hunger and thirst in the very bosom of plenty ; and then to 
tell them, that the envy of Providence has sealed up every thing 
that is suitable under the character of unlaurful? For certainly, 
first to frame appetites fit to receive pleasure, and then to inter- 
dict them with a " touch not, taste not," can be nothing else, 
than only to give them occasion to devour and prey upon them- 
selves ; and so to keep men under the perpetual torment of an 
unsatisfied desire : a tiling hugely contrary to the natural feli- 
city of the creature, and consequently to the wisdom and good- 
ness of the great Creator. 

He therefore that would persuade men to religion, both with 
art and efficacy, must found the persuasion of it upon this, that 
it interferes not with any rational pleasure, that it bids nobody 
quit the enjoyment of any one thing that his reason can prove to 
him ought to be enjoyed. It is confessed, when through the 
cross circumstances of a man's temper or condition, the enjoy- 
ment of a pleasure would certainly expose him to a greater in- 
convenience, then rehgion bids him quit it ; that is, it bids him 
prefer the endurance of a lesser evil before a greater, and nature 
itself does no less. Religion therefore intrenches upon none of 
our privileges, invades none of our pleasures ; it may indeed 
sometimes command us to change, but never totally to abjure 

But it is easily foreseen, that this discourse Avill in the very 
beginning of it be encountered by an argument from experience, 
and therefore not more obvious than strong ; namely, that it 
cannot but be the greatest trouble in the world for a man th\is, 
as it were, even to shake off himself, and to defy his nature, hj 
a jjerpetual thwarting of his innate appetites and desires ; which 
yet is absolutely necessary to a severe and impartial prosecution 
of a course of piety : nay, and we have this asserted also, by the 
verdict of Christ liimself, who still makes the disciplines of self- 
denial and the cross, those terrible blows to flesh and blood, the 
indispensable requisites to the being of his disciples. All which 
being so, would not he that should be so hardy as to attempt to 
persuade men to piety from the pleasures of it, b6 liable to that 


invective taunt from all mankind, that the Israelites gave to 
Moses : " Wilt thou put out the eyes of this people ?" Wilt thou 
persuade us out of our first notions ? Wilt thou demonstrate, 
that there is any delight in a cross, any comfort in violent abridg- 
ments, and, which is the greatest paradox of all, that the highest 
pleasure is to abstain from it? 

For answer to which, it must be confessed, that all arguments 
whatsoever against experience are fallacious ; and therefore, in 
order to the clearing of the assertion laid down, I shall premise 
these two considerations : 

1. That pleasure is, in the nature of it, a relative thing, and 
so imports a peculiar relation and correspondence to the state and 
condition of the person to w^hom it is a pleasure. For as those 
who discourse of atoms affirm that there are atoms of all forms, 
some round, some triangular, some square, and the like ; all 
which are continually in motion, and never settle till they fall 
into a fit cii'cumscription or j^lace of the same figvire : so there 
are the like great diversities of minds and objects. Whence it is, 
that this object, striking upon a mind thus or thus disposed, flies 
off and rebounds without making any impression ; but the same 
luckily happening upon another of a disposition, as it were, 
framed for it, is presently caught at, and greedily clasped into 
the nearest unions and embraces. 

2. The other thing to be considered, is this : that the estate of 
all men by nature is more or less different from that estate, into 
which the same persons do, or may pass, by the exercise of that 
which the philosophers called virtue, and into which men are 
much more effectually and sublimely translated by that which 
we call grace ; that is, by the supernatural over-powering opera- 
tion of God's Spirit. The difference of which two estates con- 
sists in this : that in the former the sensitive appetites rule and 
domineer ; in the latter the supreme faculty of the soul, called 
reason, sways the sceptre, and acts the whole man above the irre- 
gular demands of appetite and affection. 

That the distinction between these two is not a mere figment, 
framed only to serve an hypothesis in divinity ; and that there is 
no man but is really under one, before he is under the other, I 
shall prove, by showing a reason why it is so, or rather indeed 
w^hy it cannot but be so. And it is this : because every man, in 
the beginning of his life, for several years is capable only of 
exercising his sensitive faculties and desires, the use of reason 
not showing itself till about the seventh year of his age ; and 
then at length but, as it were, dawning in very imperfect essays 
and discoveries. Now it being most undeniably evident, that 
every faculty and power grows stronger and stronger by exercise; 
is it any w^onder at all, Avhen a man, for the space of his first six 
years, and those the years of ductility and impression, has been 
wholly ruled by the propensions of sense, at that age very eager 

6 DR. south's sermons. [[serm. I, 

and Impetuous ; that then, after all, his reason beginning to exert 
and put forth itself, finds the man prepossessed, and under an- 
other power ? So that it has much ado, by many little steps %nd 
gradual conquests, to recover its prerogative from the usurpations 
of appetite, and so to subject the whole man to its dictates ; the 
difficulty of which is not conquered by some men all their days. 
And this is one true ground of the difference between a state 
of nature and a state of grace, which some are pleased to 
scoff at in divinity, who think that they confute all that they 
laugh at, not knowing that it may be solidly evinced by mere 
reason and philosophy. 

These two considerations being premised, namely, that pleasure 
implies a proportion and agreement to the respective states and 
conditions of men ; and that the estate of men by nature is 
vastly different from the estate into which grace or virtue 
transplants them ; all that objection levelled against the foregoing 
assertion is very easily resolvable. 

For there is no doubt, but a man, while he resigns liimself up 
to the brutish guidance of sense and appetite, has no relish at all 
for the siDiritual, refined delights of a soul clarified by grace and 
virtue. The pleasures of an angel can never be the pleasures of 
a hog. But this is the thing that we contend for ; that a man, 
having once advanced himself to a state of superiority over the 
control of his inferior appetites, finds an infinitely more solid 
and sublime pleasure in the delights proper to his reason, than 
the same person had ever conveyed to liim by the bare ministry 
of his senses. His taste is absolutely changed, and therefore that 
which pleased him formerly, becomes flat and insipid to his 
appetite, now grown more mascxiline and severe. For, as age 
and maturity passes a real and marvellous change iipon the diet 
and recreations of the same person ; so that no man at the years 
and vigour of thirty, is either fond of sugar-plums or rattles : in 
like manner, when reason, by the assistance of grace, has pre- 
vailed over, and out-grown the encroachments of sense, the 
delights of sensuality are to such a one but as a hobby-horse 
would be to a counsellor of state ; or, as tasteless as a bundle of 
hay to a hungry lion. Every alteration of a man's condition 
infallibly infers an alteration of his pleasiu-es. 

The Athenians laughed the physiognomist to scorn, who, 
pretending to read men's minds in their foreheads, described 
Socrates for a crabbed, lustful, proud, ill-natured person ; they 
knowing how directly contrary he was to that dirty character. 
But Socrates bade them forbear laughing at the man, for that he 
had given them a most exact account of his nature ; but what 
they saw in him so contrary at the present, was from the con- 
quest that he had got over his natural disposition by philosophy. 
And now let any one consider, whether that anger, that revenge, 
that Avantonness and ambition, that were the proper pleasures of 


Socrates, under his natural temper of crabbed, lustful, and proud, 
could have at all affected or enamoured the mmd of the same 
Socrates, made gentle, chaste, and humble by philosophy. 

Aristotle says, that were it possible to put a young man's eye 
into an old man's head, he Avould see as plainly and clearly as the 
other; so, could we infuse the inclinations and principles of a 
virtuous person into him that prosecutes his debauches Avith the 
greatest keenness of desire, and sense of dehght, he would loathe 
and reject them as heartily, as he now pursues them. Diogenes, 
being asked at a feast, why he did not continue eating as the rest 
did, answered him that asked him with another question, Pray, 
why do you eat ? Why, says he, for my pleasure ; why, so, says 
Diogenes, do I abstain for my pleasure. And therefore the vain, 
the vicious, and luxurious person argues at a high rate of 
inconsequence, when he makes his particular desires the general 
measure of other men's delights. But the case is so plain, that I 
shaU not ujobraid any man's understanding, by endeavouring to 
give it any farther illusti'ation. 

But still, after all, I must not deny that the change and passage 
from a state of nature, to a state of virtue, is laborious, and, 
consequently, irksome and unpleasant : and to this it is, that all 
the forementioned expressions of .our Saviour do allude. But 
surely the baseness of one condition, and the generous excellency 
of the other, is a sufficient argument to induce any one to a 
change. For as no man would think it a desirable thing, to 
preserve the itch upon himself, only for the pleasure of scratching 
that attends that loathsome distemper : so neither can any man, 
that would be faithful to his reason, yield liis ear to be bored 
through by his domineering appetites, and so choose to sen^e 
them for ever, only for those poor, thin gratifications of sensuality 
that they are able to reward him Avith. The ascent up the hill 
is hard and tedious, but the serenity and fair prospect at the top 
is sufficient to incite the labour of undertaking it, and to reward 
it, being undertook. But the difference of these two conditions 
of men, as the foundation of their different pleasures, being thus 
made out, to press men with arguments to pass from one to 
another, is not directly in the way or design of this discourse. 

Yet, before I come to declare positively the pleasures that are 
to be found in the ways of religion, one of the grand duties of 
which is stated upon repentance ; a thing expressed to us by the 
grim names of mortification, crucifixion, and the like ; and that I 
may not proceed only upon absolute negations, without some 
concessions, we will see, whether this so harsh, dismal, and 
affrighting duty of repentance is so entirely gaU, as to admit of 
no mixture, no allay of sweetness, to reconcile it to the appre- 
hensions of reason and nature. 

Now repentance consists properly of two things: — 1. Sorrow 
for sin. 2. Change of life. 

8 DR south's sermons. [serm, I. 

A word briefly of them both. 

1. And first of sorroxo for sin : usually, the sting of sorrow is 
this, that it neither removes nor alters the thing we sorrow for ; 
and so is but a kind of reproach to our reason, which will be 
sure to accost us with tliis dilemma. Either the thing we sorrow 
for, is to be remedied, or it is not : if it is, why then do we 
spend the time in mourning, which should be spent in an active 
applying of remedies ? But if it is not ; then is our sorrow vain 
and superfluous, as tending to no real eflfect. For no man can 
weep his father or his friend out of the grave, or mourn liimself 
out of a bankrupt condition. But this si^iritual sorrow is 
effectual to one of the greatest and highest purposes that mankind 
can be concerned in. It is a means to avert an impendent 
wrath, to disarm an offended Omnipotence ; and even to fetch a 
soul out of the very jaws of hell. So that the end and conse- 
quence of this sorrow sweetens the sorrow itself; and, as Solomon 
says, " In the midst of lavighter, the heart is sorrowful ;" so, in 
the midst of sorrow here, the heart may rejoice : for while it 
mourns, it reads, that " those that mourn shall be comforted ;" 
and so while the penitent weeps with one eye, he views his 
deliverance with the other. But then for the external expres- 
sions, and vent of sorrow ; we know that there is a certain 
pleasure in weeping ; it is the discharge of a big and a swelling 
grief ; of a fuU and a strangling discontent ; and therefore, he 
that never had such a bviixlen upon his heart, as to give him 
opportunity thus to ease it, has one pleasure in this world yet to 

2. As for the other part of repentance, which is change of life, 
this indeed may be troublesome in the entrance ; yet it is but the 
first bold onset, the first i-esolute violence and invasion upon a 
vicious habit, that is so sharp and afflicting. Every impression 
of the lancet cuts, but it is the first only that smarts. Besides, 
it is an argument hugely unreasonable, to plead the pain of 
passing from a vicious estate, unless it was proved, that there 
was none in the continuance under it ; but surely, when we read 
of the service, the bondage, and the captivity of sinners, we are 
not entertained only with the air of words and metaphors ; and 
instead of truth, put off" with simihtvides. Let him that says it 
is a trouble to refrain from a debauch, convince us, that it is not 
a greater to undergo one ; and that the confessor did not impose 
a shrewd penance upon the di'unken man, by bidding hun go and 
be drunk again ; and that hsping, raging, redness of eyes, and 
Avhat is not fit to be named in such an audience, is not more 
toilsome, than to be clean, and quiet, and discreet, and respected 
for being so. All the trouble that is in it, is the trouble of being 
sound, being cured, and being recovered. But if there be great 
arguments for health, then certainly there are the same for the 
obtaining of it ; and so, keejiing a due proportion between 


spirituals and temporals, we neither have nor pretend to greater 
arguments for repentance. 

Having thus now cleared off all that by way of objection can 
lie against the truth asserted, by showing the proper quahfication 
of the subject, to whom only the "ways of wisdom" can be 
" ways of pleasantness ;" for the further prosecution of the mat- 
ter in hand, I shall show what are those properties that so pecu- 
liarly set off and enhance the excellency of tliis pleasure. 

I. The first Is, that it is the proper pleasure of that part of 
man, which is the largest and most comprehensive of pleasure, 
and that is his mind : a substance of a boundless comprehension. 
The mind of man is an image, not only of God's spirituaUty, but 
of his infinity. It is not like any of the senses, limited to this 
or that kind of object : as the sight intermeddles not with that 
Avliich afi^ects the smell ; but, with a universal superintendence, 
it arbitrates upon and takes them all in. It is, as I may so say, 
an ocean, into wliicli all the little ri\Tilets of sensation, both ex- 
ternal and internal, discharge themselves. It is framed by God 
to receive all, and more than nature can afford it ; and so to be 
its own motive to seek for something above nature. Now this 
is that part of man, to which the pleasures of religion proj^erly 
belong ; and that in a double respect : 

1. In reference to speculation, as it sustains the name of un- 
derstanding. 2. In reference to practice, as it sustains the name 
of conscience. 

1. And first for speculation : the pleasures of which have been 
sometimes so great, so intense, so engrossing of all the powers of 
the soul, that there has been no room left for any other pleasure. 
It has so called together all the spirits to that one work, that 
there has been no supply to carry on the inferior operations of 
nature. Contemplation feels no hunger, nor is sensible of any 
thirst, but of that after knowledge. How frequent and exalted a 
pleasure did David find from liis meditation in the divine law ! 
" All the day long" it was the theme of liis thoughts. The af- 
fairs of state, the government of his kingdom, might indeed em- 
ploy, but it Avas tliis only that refreshed his mind. 

How short of this are the delights of the epicure ! How vastly 
disproportionate are the pleasures of the eating, and of the think- 
ing man ! Indeed as different as the silence of an Archimedes in 
the study of a problem, and the stillness of a sow at her wash. 
Nothing is comparable to the pleasure of an active and a pre- 
vailing thought : a thought prevailing over the difficulty and ob- 
scurity of the object, and refreshing the soul with new discoveries 
and images of things ; and thereby extending the bounds of ap- 
prehension, and, as it were, enlarging the territories of reason. 

Now this pleasiu'e of the speculation of divine things is ad- 
vanced upon a double account. 


(1.) The greatness. 

(2.) The newness of the object. 

(1.) And first for the greatness of it. It is no less than the 
great God himself, and that both in his nature and his works. 
For the eye of reason, lilve that of the eagle, directs itself chiefly 
to the sun, to a glory that neither admits of a superior, nor an 
equal. KeUgion carries the soul to the study of every divine 

It possesses it with the amazing thoughts of omnipotence ; of a 
power able to fetch up such a glonous fabric, as this of the world, 
out of the abyss of vanity and notliing, and able to throAV it back 
into the same original nothing again. It drowns us in the spe- 
culation of the divine omniscience ; that can maintain a steady 
infallible comprehension of all events in themselves contingent 
and accidental ; and certainly know that, wliich does not certainly 
exist. It confounds the greatest subtilties of speculation, with 
the riddles of God's omnipresence ; that can spread a single indi- 
vidual substance through all spaces ; and yet w^ithout any com- 
mensuration of parts to any, or circumscription it^zVA/?? any, though 
totally in every one. And then for his eternity ; which non- 
plusses the strongest and clearest conception, to comprehend how 
one single act of duration should measure all periods and portions 
of time, without any of the distinguishing parts of succession. 
Likewise for liis justice ; which shall prey upon the sinner for 
ever, satisfying itself by a perpetual miracle, rendering the crea- 
ture immortal in the midst of the flames; always consuming, but 
never consumed. With the like Avonders we may entertain our 
speculations from his mercy, liis beloved, his triumphant attribute ; 
an attribute, if it Avere possible, sometliing more than infinite ; 
for even his justice is so, and his mercy ti"anscends that. Lastly, 
we may contemplate upon liis supernatural, astonishing Avorks: 
particularly in the resurrection, and reparation of the same nu- 
merical body, by a re-union of all the scattered parts, to be at 
length disposed of into an estate of eternal avoc or bliss ; as also 
the greatness and strangeness of the beatific vision ; hoAV a created 
eye should be so fortified, as to bear all those glories that stream 
from the fountain of uncreated light, the meanest expression of 
which light is, that it is inexpressible. Now Avhat great and 
high objects are these, for a rational contemplation to busy itself 
upon ! Heights that scorn the reach of our prospect ; and depths 
in Avliich the tallest reason Avill never touch the bottom : yet 
surely the pleasure arising from thence is great and noble ; for- 
asmuch as they afford perpetual matter and employment to the 
inquisitiveness of human reason ; and so are large enough for it 
to take its full scope and range in : Avhich, Avhen it has sucked 
and drained the utmost of an object, naturally lays it aside, and 
neglects it as a dry and empty thing. 

(2.) As the things belonging to religion entertain our specula- 


tion with great objects, so they entertain it also with new : and 
novelty we know is the great parent of pleasure ; upon which 
account it is that men are so much pleased with variety, and va- 
riety is nothing else but a continued novelty. The Athenians, 
who were the professed and most diligent improvers of their rea- 
son, made it their whole business " to hear or to tell some new 
thing ;" for the truth is, newness, especially in great matters, Avas 
a worthy entertainment for a searching mind ; it was (as I may 
so say) a liigh taste, fit for the relish of an Athenian reason. 
And thereupon the mere unheard-of strangeness of Jesus and the 
resurrection, made them desirous to hear it discoursed of to them 
again, Acts xvii. 23. But how Avould it have employed their 
searcliing faculties, had the mystery of the Trinity, and the incar- 
nation of the Son of God, and the whole economy of man's re- 
dem2:>tion, been explained to them ! For how could it ever enter 
into the thoughts of reason, that a satisfaction coidd be paid to 
an infinite justice ? or, that two natures so inconceivably differ- 
ent, as the human and di^dne, could imite into one person ? The 
knowledge of these tilings could derive from nothing else but 
pure revelation, and consequently must be piu'cly new to the 
highest discourses of mere nature. Noav that the newness of an 
object so exceedingly pleases and strikes the mind, appears from 
this one consideration ; that every thing pleases more in expecta- 
tion than fruition : and expectation supposes a thing as yet new, 
the hoped-for discovery of which is the jileasure that entertains 
the expecting and inquiring mind : whereas actual discovery, as 
it were, rifles and deflowers the newness and freshness of the ob- 
ject, and so, for the most part, makes it cheap, familiar, and con- 

It is clear, therefore, that if there be any pleasure to the mind 
from speculation, and if tliis pleasure of speculation be advanced 
by the greatness and newness of the things contemplated upon, 
all this is to be found in the way of religion. 

2. In the next place, rehgion is a pleasure to the mind, as it 
respects practice, and so sustains the name of conscience. And 
conscience undoubtedly is the great repository and magazine of 
all those pleasures that can afford any soHd refreshment to the 
soul. For when tliis is cahu, and serene, and absolving, then, 
properly, a man enjoys all tilings, and Avhat is more, liimself ; for 
that he must do, before he can enjoy any tiling else. . But it is 
only a pious life, led exactly by the rules of a severe rehgion, 
that can authorize a man's conscience to sjoeak comfortably to 
him: it is this that must word the sentence, before the conscience 
can pronovmce it, and then it will do it with majesty and autho- 
rity : it will not whisper but proclaim a jubilee to the mind ; it 
will not drop, but pour in oil upon the wounded heart. And is 
there any pleasure comparable to that which sj^rings from hence? 
The pleasure of conscience is not only greater than all c»ther 

12 DR. south's serjions. Qserm. I. 

pleasures, but may also serve instead of them: for they only 
please and affect the mind in transitu, in the pitiful narrow com- 
pass of actual fruition ; whereas that of conscience entertains and 
feeds it a long time after with durable, lasting reflections. 

And thus much for the first ennobHng projjerty of the pleasure 
belonging to religion ; namely, that it is the pleasure of the mind; 
and that both as it relates to speculation, and is called the 
understanding, and as it relates to practice, and is called the 

II. The second ennobHng jiroperty of it is. That it is such a 
pleasure as never satiates or weaynes : for it j)roperly affects the 
spirit, and a spirit feels no weariness, as being privileged from the 
causes of it. But can the ej)icure say so of any of the pleasures 
that he so much dotes uj)on ? Do they not expire while they 
satisfy; and, after a few minutes' refreshment, determine in 
loathing and unquietness ? How short is the interval between a 
pleasure and a burden ! How undiscernible the transition from 
one to the other ! Pleasure dwells no longer upon the appetite, 
than the necessities of nature, which are quickly and easily pro- 
vided for ; and then all that follows is a load and an oppression. 
Every morsel to a satisfied hunger, is only a new labour to a tired 
digestion. Every draught to him that has quenched liis thirst, is 
but a farther quenching of nature ; a provision for rheiun and 
diseases, a drowning of the quickness and activity of the spirits. 

He that prolongs his meals, and sacrifices his time, as well as 
his other conveniences, to liis luxury, how quickly does he out- 
sit his pleasure ! And then, how is all the following time be- 
stowed upon ceremony and surfeit ! till at length, after a long 
fatigue of eating, and drinking, and babbling, he concludes the 
great Avork of dining genteelly, and so makes a shift to rise from 
table, that he may lie down upon his bed : where, after he has 
slept liimself into some use of hunself, by much ado he staggers 
to his table again, and there acts over the same brutish scene : so 
that he passes liis Avhole life in a dozed condition betAveen sleejD- 
ing and Avaking, Avith a kind of droAvsiness and confusion upon 
his senses ; Avhich, Avhat pleasure it can be, is hard to conceive ; 
all that is of it, dAvells upon the tip of liis tongue, and Avithin the 
compass of his palate : a worthy prize for a man to purchase Avitli 
the loss of his time, his reason, and liimself. 

Nor is that man less deceived, that tliinks to maintain a con- 
stant tenure of pleasm*e, by a continual pursuit of sports and re- 
creations : for it is most certainly true of all these things, that 
as they refresh a man when he is weary, so they weary him Avhen 
he is refreshed ; Avhicli is an evident demonstration that God 
never designed the use of them to be continual ; by })utting such 
an emptiness in them, as should so quickly fail and lurch the 


The most voluptuous and loose person breathing, were he but 
tied to follow his hawks and his hounds, his dice and his court- . 
ships every day, would find it the greatest torment and calamity 
that coidd befall him ; he would fly to the mines and the galleys 
for his recreation, and to the spade and the mattock for a diver- 
sion from the misery of a continual unintermitted pleasure. 

But, on the contrary, the providence of God has so ordered 
the course of things, that there is no action, the usefulness of 
which has made it the matter of duty, and of a profession, but a 
man may bear the continual pursuit of it, without loathing or 
satiety. The same shop and trade, that employs a man in liis 
youth, employs him also in his age. Every morning he rises 
fresh to his hammer and his anvil ; he passes the day singing : 
custom has naturalized liis labour to liim: his shop is his element, 
and he cannot, with any enjoyment of liimself, live out of it. 
Wliereas no custom can make the painfulness of a debauch easy 
or pleasing to a man ; sinc« nothing can be pleasant that is un- 
natural. But now, if God has interwoven such a pleasure with 
the works of our ordinary calling ; how much superior and more 
refined must that be, that arises from the survey of a pious and 
well-governed life ! surely, as much as Christianity is nobler than 
a trade. 

And then, for the constant freshness of it ; it is such a plea- 
sure as can never cloy or overwork the mind : for, surely no man 
was ever weary of thinking, much less of thinking that he had 
done well or virtuously, that he had conquered such and such a 
temptation, or offered violence to any of his exorbitant desires. 
Tliis is a dehght that grows and improves under thought and re- 
flection : and while it exercises, does also endear itself to the 
mind ; at the same time employing and inflaming the meditations. 
All pleasures that afi^ect the body, must needs weary, because 
they transport, and all transportation is violence ; and no violence 
can be lasting, but determines upon the falling of the spirits, 
which are not able to keep up that height of motion that the 
pleasure of the senses raises them to : and therefore how inevi- 
tably does an immoderate laughter end in a sigh ! which is 
only nature's recovering itself after a force done to it. But the 
religious pleasure of a well-disposed mind moves gently, and 
therefore constantly ; it does not aftect by rapture and ecstasy ; 
but is like the pleasure of health, which is still and sober, yet 
greater and stronger than those that call up the senses with grosser 
and more affecting impressions. God has given no man a body 
as strong as his appetites, but has corrected the boundlessness of 
his voluptuous desires, by stinting his strength, and contracting 
his capacities. 

But to look upon those pleasures, also, that have a higher ob- 
ject than the body ; as those that spring from honour and gran- 
deur of condition : yet we shall find that even these are not so 

14 DR. SOUTIl's SERMONS. []sERM. I. 

fresh and constant, but the mind can nauseate them, and quickly 
feel the thinness of a popular breath. Those that are so fond of 
applause while they j)ursue it, how little do they taste it when 
they have it ! Like lightning, it only flashes ujjon the face, and is 
gone, and it is well if it does not hurt the man. But for great- 
ness of place, though it is fit and necessary that some persons in 
the Avorld should be in love with a splendid servitude, yet certainly 
they must be much beholden to their own fancy, that they can 
be pleased at it. For he that rises up early and goes to bed late, 
only to receive addresses, to read and answer petitions, is really 
as much tied and abridged in his freedom, as he that waits all 
that time to present one. And what pleasure can it be to be en- 
cumbered with dependences, thronged and surrounded with peti- 
tioners, and those perhaps sometimes all suitors for the same thing? 
whereupon all but one Avill be sure to depart grumbling, because 
they miss of Avhat they tliink their due ; and even that one scarce 
thankful, because he thinks he has no more than his due. In a 
word, if it is a pleasure to be envied and shot at, to be maligned 
standing, and to be despised falling, to endeavom- that Avhicli is 
impossible, which is to please all, and to suffer for not doing it ; 
then is it a pleasure to be great, and to be able to dispose of men's 
fortunes and prefennents. 

But farther, to proceed from hence to yet a higher degree of 
pleasure, indeed the highest on tliis side that of rehgion ; which 
is the pleasure of friendship and conversation. Friendship must 
confessedly be allowed the top, the flower, and crown of all tem- 
poral enjoyments. Yet has not this also its flaws and its dark 
side ? for is not my fi'iend a man ? and is not friendship subject 
to the same mortality and change that men are ? And in case 
a man loves, and is not loved again, does he not think that he has 
cause to hate as heartily, and ten times more eagerly than ever 
he loved ? And then to be an enemy, and once to have been a 
friend, does it not embitter the rupture, and aggravate the cala- 
mity ? But admitting that my friend continues so to the end ; 
yet, in the meantmie, is he all perfection, all virtue, and discre- 
tion ? Has he not humours to be endured, as well as kindnesses 
to be enjoyed ? And am I sure to smell the rose without some- 
times feeling the thorn ? 

And then, lastly, for company ; though it may reprieve a man 
from his melancholy, yet it cannot secure him from his conscience, 
nor from sometimes being alone. And what is all that a man 
enjoys, from a week's, a month's, or a year's converse, comparable 
to what he feels for one hour when his conscience shall take him 
aside, and rate him by himself ? 

In short, run over the whole circle of all earthly pleasures, 
and I dare affirm, that had not God secured a man a solid pleasure 
from his own actions, after he had rolled from one to another, and 
enjoyed them all, he would be forced to complain, that either 


they were not indeed pleasures, or that pleasure was not satis- 

III. The tliird ennobling property of the pleasure that accrues 
to a man from rehgion, is, that it is such a one as is in nobody's 
poioer, but only in his that has it ; so that he who has the pro- 
perty may be also sure of the perpetuity. And tell me so of 
any outward enjoyment that mortahty is capable of. We are 
generally at the mercy of men's rapine, avarice, and violence, 
whether we shall be happy or no. For if I build my felicity 
upon my estate or reputation, I am happy as long as the tyrant or 
the railer will give me leave to be so. But when my concernment 
takes up no more room or compass than myself, then so long as 
I know where to breathe and to exist, I knoAV also where to be 
happy : for I know I may be so in my own breast, in the court 
of my own conscience ; where, if I can but prevail with myself 
to be innocent, I need bribe neither judge nor officer to be />ro- 
nounced so. The pleasure of the religious man is an easy and 
a portable pleasure, such a one as he carries about in his bosom, 
without alarming either the eye or envy of the world. A man put- 
ting all his pleasures into this one, is like a traveller's putting all 
his goods into one jewel ; the value is the same, and the conve- 
nience greater. 

There is nothing that can raise a man to that generous abso- 
luteness of condition, as neither to cringe, to fawn, or to depend 
meanly ; but that which gives liim that happiness within himself, 
for which men depend upon others. For surely I need salute no 
great man's threshold, sneak to none of his friends or servants, 
to speak a good word for me to my conscience. It is a noble 
and a sure defiance of a great malice, backed with a great interest ; 
which yet can have no advantage of a man, but from his ow n 
expectations of something that is without himself But if I can 
make my duty my delight ; if I can feast, and please, and caress 
my mind with the pleasures of worthy speculations, or virtuous 
practices ; let greatness and malice vex and abridge me if they 
can : my pleasures are as free as my will ; no more to be con- 
trolled than my choice, or the imlimited range of my thoughts 
and my desires. 

Nor is this kind of pleasure only out of the reach of any out- 
ward violence, but even those things also that make a much closer 
impression upon us, which are the irresistible decays of natm'e, 
have yet no influence at all upon this. For when age itself, 
which of all things in the world wiU not be baffled or defied, 
shall begin to arrest, seize, and remind us of our mortality by 
pains, aches, deadness of limbs, and dulness of senses, yet then 
the pleasure of the mind shall be in its full youth, vigour, and 
freshness. A palsy may as well shake an oak, or a fever dry up 
a fountain, as either of them shake, dry up, or impair the delight 

16 DR. south's sermons Qserm. t. 

of conscience. For it lies within, it centres in the heart, it grows 
into tlie very substance of the soul, so that it accompanies a man 
to his grave ; he never outlives it, and that for this cause only, 
because he cannot outlive himself. 

And thus I have endeavoured to describe the excellency of 
that pleasure that is to be found in the ways of a religious wis- 
dom, by those excellent properties that do attend it ; which 
whether they reach the description that has been given them or 
no, every man may convince liimself, by the best of demonstra- 
tions, which is his own trial. 

Now, from all this discourse, this I am sure is a most natural 
and direct consequence, that if the ways of religion are ways of 
pleasantness, such as are not ways of pleasantness, are not tridy 
and properly ways of rehgion. Upon which ground it is easy to 
see what judgment is to be passed upon all those affected, un- 
commanded, absurd austerities, so much jjrized and exercised by 
some of the Romish profession. Pilgrimages, going barefoot, 
hair-shirts, and wliips, with other such gospel artillery, are their 
only helps to devotion ; tilings never enjoined, either by the pro- 
phets under the Jewish, or by the apostles under the Christian 
economy ; wdio yet surely understood the proper and the most 
efficacious instruments of piety as well as any confessor or friar 
of all the order of St. Francis, or any casuist whatsoever. 

It seems that, with them, a man sometimes cannot be a peni- 
tent, unless he also turns vagabond, and foots it to Jerusalem, or 
wanders over this or that part of the world to visit the shrine of 
such or such a pretended saint, though perhaps, in his life, ten 
times more ridiculous than themselves : thus, that which Avas 
Cain's curse, is become their religion. He that tliinks to expiate 
a sin by going barefoot, only makes one folly the atonement for 
another ; Paul indeed was scourged and beaten by the Jew^s, but 
we never read that he beat or scourged himself ; and if they think 
" that his keeping under of his body" imports so much, they must 
first prove that the body cannot be kept under by a virtuous 
mind, and that the mind cannot be made virtuous but by a 
scourge, and consequently, that thongs and wliipcord are means 
of grace and tilings necessary to salvation. The truth is, if 
men's religion lies no deeper than their skin, it is possible that 
they may scourge themselves into very great improvements. 

But they will find that " bodily exercise" touches not the soul ; 
and that neither pride, nor lust, nor covetousness, nor any other 
vice, was ever mortified by corporal disciplines : it is not the back, 
but the heart, that must bleed for sin : and consequently, that in 
this whole course they are like men out of their way ; let them lash 
on never so fast, they are not at all the nearer to their journey's 
end: and howsoever they deceive themselves and others, they 
may as well expect to bring a cart as a soul to heaven by such 
means. What arguments they have to beguile poor, simple, im- 


stable souls with, I know not ; but surely the practical, casuisti- 
cal, that is, the principal, vital part of their religion savours ^ ery 
little of sj)irituality. 

And now upon the result of all, I suppose, that to exliort men 
to be I'eligious, is only in other words to exhort them to take 
their pleasure. A pleasure high, rational, and angelical ; a 
j^leasure embased with no appendent sting, no consequent loath- 
ing, no remorses or bitter farewells ; but such a one, as, being 
honey in the mouth, never turns to gall or gravel in the bell}' : 
a pleasure made for the soul, and the soul for that, suitable to its 
spirituality, and equal to all its capacities. Such a one as 
grows fresher upon enjoyment, and though continually fed upon, 
yet is never devoured. A pleasure that a man may call as pro- 
perly his own, as liis soul and his conscience ; neither liable to 
accident, nor exposed to injury ; for it is the foretaste of heaven, 
and the earnest of eternity. In a word, it is such a one, as 
being begun in grace, passes into glory, blessedness, and inmior- 
tality, and those pleasures " that neither eye has seen, nor ear 
heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man to conceive." 

To which God of his mercy vouchsafe to bring us all : to 
whom be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, 
majesty, and dominion, both now and for evennore. Amen. 

VOL. I. c 



November 9, 1662. 




Right Honourable, 

When I consider how impossible it is for a person of my condition 
to produce, and consequently how imprudent to attempt any thing in 
proportion either to the ampleness of the body you represent, or of the 
places you bear, I should be kept from venturing so poor a piece, de- 
signed to live but an hour, in so lasting a publication ; did not what 
your civility calls a request, your greatness render a command. The 
truth is, in things not unlawful great persons cannot be properly said 
to request ; because, all things considered, they must not be denied. 
To me it was honour enough to have your audience, enjoyment enough 
to behold your happy change, and to see the same city, the metropolis 
of loyalty and of the kingdom, to behold the glory of English churches 
reformed, that is, delivered from the reformers ; and to find at least the 
service of the church repaired, though not the building ; to see St. Paul's 
delivered from beasts here, as well as St. Paul at Ephesus ; and to 
view the church thronged only Avith troops of auditors, not of horse. 
This I could fully have acquiesced in, and received a large personal 
reward in my particular share of the public joy ; but since you are far- 
ther pleased, I will not say by your judgment to approve, but by your 
acceptance to encourage, the raw endeavours of a young divine, I shall 
take it for an opportunity, not as others in their sage prudence use to 
do, to quote three or four texts of scripture, and to tell you how you 
are to rule the city out of a concordance ; no, I bring not instructions, 
but what much better befits both you and myself, your commendations. 

c 2 


For I look upon your city as the gi-eat and magnificent stage of business, 
and by consequence the best place of improvement ; for from the school 
we go to the university, but from the university to London. And there- 
fore, as in your city meetings you must be esteemed the most consider- 
able body of the nation, so, met in the church, I look upon you as an 
auditory fit to be waited on, as you are, by both universities. And 
when I remember how instrumental you have been to recover this uni- 
versal settlement, and to retrieve the old spirit of loyalty to kings (as an 
ancient testimony of which you bear not the sword in vain) I seem in 
a manner deputed from Oxford, not so much a preacher to supply a 
course, as orator to present her thanks. As for the ensuing discourse, 
which (lest I chance to be traduced for a plagiary by him who has played 
the thief) I think fit to tell the world, by the Avay, was one of those that 
by a worthy hand were stolen from me in the king's chapel, and are 
still detained ; and to which, now accidentally published by your hon- 
ours' order, your patronage must give both value and protection. You 
will find me in it not to have pitched upon any subject, that men's guilt, 
and the consequence of guilt, their concernment, might render liable to 
exception; nor to have rubbed up the memory of what some heretofore 
in the city did, which more and better now detest, and therefore expi- 
ate: but my subject is inoffensive, harmless, and innocent as the state of 
innocence itself, and I hope suitable to the present design and genius of 
this nation ; which is, or should be, to return to that innocence, which 
it lost long since the fall. Briefly, my business is, by describing what 
man was in his first estate, to upbraid him with what he is in bis present : 
between whom, innocent and fallen (that in a word I may suit the subject 
to the place of my discom'se), there is as great an unlikeness, as between 
St. Paul's a cathedral, and St. Paul's a stable. But I must not forestall 
myself, nor transcribe the work into the dedication. I shall now only- 
desire you to accept the issue of your own requests ; the gratification of 
which I have bere consulted so much before my own reputation; while, 
like the poor widow, I endeavour to show my officiousness by an offer- 
ing, though I betray my poverty by the measure ; not so much caring, 
though I appear neither preacher nor scholar (which terms we have been 
taui^ht upon good reason to distinguish), so I may in this but show my- 

Your Honours' very humble Servant, 

Robert South. 
Worcester House, Nov. 24, 1662. 



of the creation of man in the image of god. 

Genesis i. 27. 

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created 

he him. 

How hard it is for natural reason to discover a creation before 
revealed, or being revealed to believe it, the strange opinions of 
the old philosophers, and the infidelity of modern atheists, is too 
sad a demonstration. To run the world back to its first original 
and infancy, and (as it were) to view nature in its cradle, and 
trace the out-goings of the Ancient of days in the first instance 
and specimen of his creative power, is a research too great for 
any mortal inquiry ; and we might continue our scrutiny to the 
end of the world/ before natural reason would be able to find out 
when it begun. 

Epicurus's discourse concerning the original of the world is so 
fabulous and ridiculously merry, that Ave may well judge the 
design of his philosophy to have been pleasure, and not in- 

Aristotle held, that it streamed by connatural result and 
emanation from God, the infinite and eternal mind, as the light 
issues from the sun ; so that there was no instant of duration 
assignable of God's eternal existence, in which the world did not 
also coexist. 

Others held a fortuitous concourse of atoms ; but all seem 
jointly to explode a creation; still beating upon this ground, 
that the producing something out of nothing is impossible and 
incomprehensible; incomprehensible indeed I grant, but not 
therefore impossible. There is not the least transaction of sense 
and motion in the whole man, but philosophers are at a loss to 
comprehend, I am sure they are to explain it. Wherefore, it is 
not always rational to measure the truth of an assertion by the 
standard of our apprehension. 

But to bring tilings even to the bare perceptions of reason, I 
appeal to any one, who shall impartially reflect upon the ideas 
and conceptions of his own mind, whether he doth not find it as 
easy and suitable to his natural notions to conceive that an in- 
finite Almighty power might produce a thing out of nothing, and 
make that to exist de novo, which did not exist before ; as to con- 


ceive the Avorld to have had no beginning, but to have existed 
from eternity ; which, were it so proper for this place and exer- 
cise, I could easily demonstrate to be attended with no small 
train of absurdities. But then, besides that the acknowledging 
of a creation is safe, and the denial of it dangerous and irreli- 
gious, and yet not more, perhaps much less, demonstrable than 
the affirmative ; so, over and above, it gives me this advantage, 
that, let it seem never so strange, uncouth, and incomjarehensi- 
ble, the nonplus of my reason will yield a fairer opj)ortunity to 
my faith. 

In this chapter we have God surveying the works of the crea- 
tion, and leaving this general impress or character upon them, 
"that they were exceeding good." Wliat an omnipotence 
Avrought, we have an omniscience to approve. But as it is 
reasonable to imagine that there is more of design, and conse- 
quently more of perfection, in the last work, we haA^e God here 
giving his last stroke, and summing up all into man, the whole 
into a part, the universe into an individual ; so that whereas in 
other creatures we have but the trace of his footsteps, in man we 
have the draught of his hand. In him were united all the 
scattered perfections of the creature, all the graces and orna- 
ments ; all the aii's and features of being were abridged into this 
small, yet full system of nature and divinity : as we might well 
imagine that the great artificer woidd be more than ordinarily 
exact in drawing his own picture. 

The work that I shall undertake from these words, shall be to 
show what this image of God in man is, and wherein it doth con- 
sist. Wliich I shall do these two ways: 1. Negatively, by 
showing wherein it does not consist. 2. Positively, by showing 
wherein it does. 

For the first of these, we are to remove the erroneous opinion 
of the Socinians. They deny that the image of God consisted 
in any habitual perfections that adorned the soul of Adam : but 
as to his understanding bring him in void of all notion, a rude 
unwritten blank ; making liim to be created as much an infant 
as others are born ; sent into the world only to read and to spell 
out a God in the works of creation, to learn by degrees, till at 
length his understanding grew up to the stature of his body ; also 
without any inherent habits of virtue in liis will ; thus divesting 
him of all, and stripping him to his bare essence ; so that all 
the perfection they allowed his understanding was aptness and 
docility, and all that they attributed to his will was a possibility 
to be virtuous. 

But wherein, then, according to their opinion, did this image 
of God consist? Wliy, in that power and dominion that God 
gave Adam over the creatures ; in that he was vouched his im- 
mediate deputy upon earth, the viceroy of the creation, and lord- 
lieutenant of the world. But that this power and dominion is not 


adequately and formally the image of God, but only a part of it, 
is clear from hence : because then he that had most of this, would 
have most of God's image ; and consequently Nimrod had more 
of it than Noah, Saul than Samuel, the persecutors than the 
martyrs, and Cfesar than Christ himself, which to assert is a 
blasphemous paradox. And if the image of God is only grandeur, 
power, and sovereignty, certainly we have been hitherto much 
mistaken in our duty : and hereafter are by all means to beware 
of making ourselves unlike God, by too much self-denial and 
humility. I am not ignorant that some may distinguish between 
lE,ov(Tia and dvva^ig, between a lawful authority and actual power; 
and affirm, that God's image consists only in the former, which 
wicked princes, such as Saul and Nimrod, have not, though they 
possess the latter. But to this I answer, 

1. That the scripture neither makes nor owns such a distinc- 
tion ; nor any where asserts, that when princes begin to be 
wicked they cease of right to be governors. Add to this, that 
when God renewed this charter of man's sovereignty over the 
creatures to Noah and his family, we find no exception at all, 
but that Cham stood as fully invested with this right as any of 
his brethren. 

2. But, secondly, this savours of something ranker than 
Socinianism, even the tenets of the fifth monarchy, and of 
sovereignty founded only upon saint ship, and therefore fitter to 
be answered by the judge, than the divine ; and to receive its 
confutation at the bar of justice, than from the pulpit. 

Having now made our way through this false opinion, we are 
in the next place to lay down positively/ what this image of God 
in man is. It is, in short, that universal rectitude of all the 
faculties of the soid, by which they stand apt and disposed to 
their respective offices and operations ; which will be more fully 
set forth, by taking a distinct survey of it, in the several faculties 
belonging to the soid. 

1. In the understanding. 2. In the will. 3. In the passions 
or affections. 

I. And, first, for its noblest faculty, the understanding : it was 
then sublime, clear, and aspiring, and, as it were, the soul's upper 
region, lofty and serene, free from the vapours and disturbances 
of the inferior affections. It was the leading, controlling faculty ; 
all the passions wore the coloiu-s of reason ; it was not consid, 
but dictator. Discourse was then ahnost as quick as intuition ; 
it was nimble in proposing, firm in concluding ; it could sooner 
detei-mine than now it can dispute. Like the sun, it had both 
light and agility ; it knew no rest, but in motion ; no quiet, but 
in activity. It did not so properly apprehend, as irradiate the 
object ; not so much find, as make things intelligible. It did 
arbitrate upon the several reports of sense, and all the varieties 


of imagination ; not like a di'owsy judge, only hearing, but also 
directing their verdict. In sum, it was vegete, quick, and lively ; 
open as the day, untainted as the morning, full of the innocence 
and sprightliness of youth ; it gave the soliI a bright and a full 
view into all things, and was not only a window, but itself the 
prospect. Briefly, there is as much difference between the clear 
representations of the understanding then, and the obscure dis- 
coveries that it makes now, as there is between the prospect of a 
casement, and of a keyhole. 

Now, as there are two great functions of the soul, contempla- 
tion and practice, according to that general division of objects, 
some of which only entertain our speculation, others also employ 
our actions ; so the understanding, with relation to these, not 
because of any distinction in the faculty itself, is accordingly 
divided into speculative and practical; in both of which the 
image of God was then apparent. 

1. For the understanding speculative. There are some general 
maxims and notions in the mind of man, which are the rules of 
discourse, and the basis of all j^liilosophy. As, that the same 
tiling cannot at the same time be, and not be : that the whole 
is bigger than a part : that two dimensions, severally equal to a 
third, must also be equal to one another. Aristotle, indeed, 
affinns the mind to be at first a mere rasa tabula ; and that these 
notions are not ingenite, and imprinted by the finger of nature, 
but by the latter and more languid impressions of sense ; being 
only the reports of observation, and the result of so many 
repeated experiments. 

But to this I answer two tilings. 

(1.) That these notions are universal, and what is universal 
must needs proceed from some universal, constant principle, the 
same in all jiarticulars, which here can be notliing else but 
human nature. 

(2.) These cannot be infused by observation, because they are 
the rules by which men take their first apprehensions and obser- 
vations of things, and therefore in oixler of nature must needs 
precede them ; as the being of the rule must be before its appli- 
cation to the thing directed by it. From whence it folloAvs, that 
these were notions not descending from us, but born with us ; 
not our offspring, but our brethren ; and, as I may so say, such 
as we were taught without the help of a teacher. 

Now it was Adam's happiness in the state of innocence to 
have these clear and unsullied. He came into the Avorld a 
philosopher, wliich sufficiently appeared by Ins writing the 
nature of things upon their names; he could view essences in 
themselves, and read forms Avithoixt the comment of their re- 
spective jn'operties ; he coiild see consequents yet dormant in 
their principles, and effects yet unborn, and in the Avomb of their 
causes ; his understanding could almost 2>ierce into future eon- 


tlngents ; his conjectures improving even to prophecy, or the 
certainties of prediction ; till his fall, it Avas ignorant of nothing 
but of sin, or at least it rested in the notion, without the smart 
of the experiment. Could any difficulty have been proposed, 
the resolution would have been as early as the proposal ; it could 
not have had time to settle into doubt. Like a better Archimedes, 
the issue of all his inquiries was a evpriKa, a guprjica, the oif- 
spring of his brain without the sweat of his brow. Study was 
not then a duty, night-watcliings were needless; the light of 
reason wanted not the assistance of a candle. This is the doom 
of fallen man, to labour in the fire, to seek truth m profunda, to 
exhaust his time and impair his health, and perhaps to spin out 
his days and himself into one pitiful, controverted conclusion. 
There was then no poring, no struggling with memory, no strain- 
ing for invention ; liis faculties were quick and expedite ; they 
answered without knocking, they were ready upon the first 
summons, there was freedom and firmness in all their operations. 
I confess it is diflScult for us, avIio date our ignorance from our 
first being, and were still bred up with the same infirmities 
about us with wliich we were born, to raise our thoughts and 
imaginations to those intellectual perfections that attended our 
nature in the time of innocence, as it is for a peasant, bred up in 
the obscurities of a cottage, to fancy in his mind the unseen 
splendours of a court. But by rating positives by their priva- 
tives, and other arts of reason by which discourse supplies the 
want of the reports of sense, we may collect the excellency of 
the understanding then, by the glorious remainders of it now, 
and guess at the stateliness of the building by the magnificence 
of its ruins. All those arts, rarities, and inventions, wliich vul- 
gar minds gaze at, the ingenious pursue, and all admire, are but 
the rehcs of an intellect defaced with sin and time. We admire 
it now only as antiquaries do a piece of old coin, for the stamp 
it once bore, and not for those vanisliing lineaments and dis- 
appearing draughts that remain upon it at present. And cer- 
tainly that must needs have been very glorious, the decays of 
which are so admirable. He that is comely when old and de- 
crepid, surely was very beautiful when he was young. An 
Aristotle was but the rubbish of an Adam, and Athens but the 
rudiments of paradise. 

2. The image of God was no less resplendent in that which 
we call man's practical understanding ; namely, that storehouse 
of the soul, in which are treasured up the rules of action, and 
the seeds of moraUty. Wliere, we must observe, that many who 
deny all connate notions in the speculative intellect, do yet admit 
them in tliis. Now of tliis sort are these maxims. That God is 
to be worshipped : that parents are to be honoured : that a 
man's word is to be kept, and the like ; Avliich, being of universal 
influence, as to the regulation of the behaviour, and converse of 

26 DR. SOUTh's sermons. I^SBRM. II. 

mankind, ai'e the ground of all virtue and civility, and the foun- 
dation of religion. 

It was the privilege of Adam innocent, to have these notions 
also firm and untainted, to carry his monitor in his bosom, liis law 
in his heart, and to have such a conscience, as might be its own 
casuist : and certainly those actions must needs be regular, where 
there is an identity between the rule and the faculty. His own 
mind taught him a due dependence upon God, and chalked out 
to liim the just proportions and measures of behaviour to his 
feUow creatures. He had no catechism but the creation, needed 
no study but reflection, read no book, but the volume of the 
world, and that too, not for rules to work by, but for the objects 
to work upon. Reason was his tutor, and first principles his 
magna moralia. The decalogue of Moses was but a transcript, 
not an original. All the laws of nations, and wise decrees of 
states, the statutes of Solon, and the twelve tables, Avere but a 
paraphrase upon this standing rectitude of nature, this fruitful 
principle of justice, that was ready to run out, and enlarge itself 
into suitable demonstrations, upon all emergent objects and 
occasions. Justice then was neither blind to discern, nor lame 
to execute. It was not subject to be imposed upon by a deluded 
fancy, nor yet to be bribed by a glosing appetite, for an utile or 
jucundum to turn the balance to a false or dishonest sentence. In 
all its directions of the inferior faculties it conveyed its sugges- 
tions with clearness, and enjoined them with power; it had the 
passions in perfect subjection ; and, though its command over 
them Avas but suasive and political, yet it had the force of absolute 
and despotical. It was not then, as it is now, whei'e the conscience 
has only power to disapprove, and to protest against the exor- 
bitances of the passions ; and rather to wish, than make them 
otherwise. The voice of conscience now is low and weak, chas- 
tising the passions, as old Eli did his lustful domineering sons ; 
" Not so, my sons, not so ;" but the voice of conscience then 
was not. This should, or this ought to be done ; but. This must, 
this shall be done. It spoke like a legislator ; the thing spoken 
was a law : and the manner of speaking it a new obligation. In 
short, there was as great a disparity between the practical 
dictates of the understanding then, and now, as there is between 
empire and advice, counsel and command, between a companion 
and a governor. 

And thus much for the image of God, as it shone in man's 

II. Let us in the next place take a view of it, as it was 
stamped upon the ivill. It is much disputed by divines con- 
cerning the power of man's will to good and evil in the state of 
innocence ; and upon very nice and dangerous precipices stand 
their determinations on either side. Some hold that God invested 


him with a power to stand, so that in the strength of that power 
received, he might, without the aiixiharies of any farther influ- 
ence, have determined his will to a full choice of good. Others 
hold, that notwithstanding this power, yet it was impossible for 
him to exert it in any good action, without a superadded assist- 
ance of grace actually determining that power to the certain 
production of such an act. So that, whereas some distinguish 
between suflScient and effectual grace ; they order the matter so, 
as to acknoAvledge none sufficient, but what is indeed effectual, 
and actually productive of a good action. I shall not presume 
to interpose dogmatically in a controversy, wliich I look never to 
see decided. But concerning the latter of these opinions, I shall 
only give these two remarks. 

1. That it seems contrary to the common and natural concep- 
tions of all mankind, who acknowledge themselves able and 
sufficient to do many things, which actually they never do. 

2. That to assert, that God looked upon Adam's fall as a sin, 
and punished it as such, when, vt^ithout any antecedent sin of his, 
he withdrew that actual grace from liim, upon the withdrawing 
of which, it was impossible for him not to fall, seems a thing that 
highly reproaches the essential equity and goodness of the divine 

Wherefore, doubtless the wiU of man in the state of innocence, 
had an entire freedom, a perfect equipendency and indifference 
to either part of the contradiction, to stand, or not to stand ; to 
accept, or not accept the temptation. I will grant the will of 
man now to be as much a slave as any one will have it, and be 
only free to sin ; that is, instead of a liberty, to have only a 
licentiousness ; yet certainly tliis is not nature, but chance. We 
were not born crooked ; we learned these windings and turnings 
of the serpent : and therefore it cannot but be a blasphemous 
piece of ingratitude to ascribe them to God; and to make the 
plague of our nature the condition of our creation. 

The Avill was then ductile, and phant to all the motions of 
right reason ; it met the dictates of a clai'ified understanding half 
way. And the active informations of the intellect, filling the 
passive reception of the will, like form closing with matter, grew 
actuate into a third and distinct perfection of practice : the under- 
standing and will never disagreed ; for the proposals of the one 
never thwarted the inclinations of the other. Yet, neither did the 
will servilely attend upon the understanding, but as a favourite 
does upon his prince, where the service is privilege and jjrefer- 
ment ; or as Solomon's servants waited upon liim, it admired its 
wisdom, and heard its prudent dictates and counsels, both the 
dii'ection and the reward of its obedience. It is indeed the 
nature of tliis faculty to follow a superior guide, to be drawn by 
the intellect ; but then it was drawn as a triumphant chariot, 
which at the same time both follows and triumphs; while it 


obeyed this, it commanded the other faculties. It was subor- 
dinate, not enslaved to the understanding : not as a servant to a 
master, but as a queen to her king, Avho both acknowledges a 
subjection, and yet retains a majesty. 

Pass we now downward from man's intellect and will, 

III. To the passions, which have their residence and situation 
cliiefly in the sensitive appetite. For we must know, that inas- 
much as man is a compound, and mixture of flesh as well as 
spirit, the soul, during its abode in the body,''does all things by 
the mediation of these passions and inferior affections. And 
here the opinion of the Stoics was famous and singular, who 
looked upon all these as sinful defects and irregularities, as so 
many deviations from right reason, making passion to be only 
another word for perturbation. Sorrow in their esteem was a 
sin scarce to be expiated by another ; to pity, was a fault ; to 
rejoice, an extravagance ; and the apostle's advice, " to be angry 
and sin not," was a contradiction in their pliilosophy. But in 
tliis, they were constantly outvoted by other sects of pliilosophers, 
neither for fame nor number less than themselves : so that all 
arguments brought against them from divinity would come in by 
way of overplus to their confutation. To us let this be sufficient, 
that our Saviour Christ, who took upon him all our natural 
infirmities, but none of our sinfid, has been seen to weep, to be 
sorrowful, to pity, and to be angry; which shows that there 
might be gall in a dove, passion without sin, fire without smoke, 
and motion without disturbance. For it is not bare agitation, 
but the sediment at the bottom, that troubles and defiles the 
water : and when we see it windy and dusty, the wind does not 
(as we use to say) make, but only raise a dust. 

Now, though the schools reduce aU the passions to these two 
heads, the concupiscible, and the irascible appetite ; yet, I shall 
not tie myself to an exact prosecution of them under tliis division; 
but at this time, leaving both their terms and their method to 
themselves, consider only the principal and most noted passions, 
from whence we may take an estimate of the rest. 

And first, for the grand leading affection of all, Avliich is love. 
This is the great instrument and engine of nature, the bond and 
cement of society, the spring and spirit of the universe. Love 
is such an affection, as cannot so properly be said to be in the 
soul, as the soul to be in that. It is the whole man Avrapped up 
into one desire ; all the powers, vigour, and faculties of the soul 
abridged into one incHnation. And it is of that active, restless 
nature, that it must of necessity exert itself; and, like the fire, 
to Avhich it is so often compared, it is not a free agent, to choose 
whether it will heat or no, but it streams forth l)y natural results 
and unavoidable emanations. So that it will fasten upon any 
inferior, unsuitable object, rather than none at all. The soul 


may sooner leave off to subsist, than to love ; and, like the vine, 
it withers and dies, if it has nothing to embrace. Now this 
affection, in the state of innocence, was happily pitched upon its 
right object ; it flamed up in direct fervours of devotion to God, 
and in collateral emissions of charity to its neighbom*. It was 
not then only another and more cleanly name for lust. It had 
none of those impure heats, that both represent and deserve hell. 
It was a vestal and a virgin fire, and dift'ered as much from that, 
which usually passes by this name now-a-days, as the vital heat 
from the burning of a fever. 

Then, for the contrary passion of hatred. Tins, we know, is 
the passion of defiance, and there is a kind of aversation and 
hostihty included in its very essence and being. But then (if 
there could have been hatred in the world, when there was scarce 
any thing odious) it would have acted within the compass of its 
proper object. Like aloes, bitter Indeed, but wholesome. There 
would have been no rancour, no hatred of our brother : an 
innocent nature could hate notliing that was innocent. In a 
word, so great is the commutation, that the soul then hated only 
that wliicli now only it loves, that is, sin. 

And if we may bring anger under tins head, as being, according 
to some, a transient hatred, or at least very hke it : this also, as 
unruly as now it is, yet then it vented itself by the measures of 
reason. There was no such tiling as the transports of malice, or 
the violences of revenge : no rendering evil for evil, when evil was 
truly a nonentity, and no where to be found. Anger then was 
like the sword of justice, keen, but innocent and righteous : it 
did not act hke fury, then call itself zeal. It always espoused 
God's honour, and never kindled ujDon any thing, but in order to 
a sacrifice. It sparkled hke the coal upon the altar, Avlth the 
fervours of piety, the heats of devotion, the salHes and ^dbra- 
tions of a harmless activity. 

In the next place, for the lightsome passion of joy ; it was not 
that which noAv often ustu'ps tills name ; that trivial, vanishing, 
superficial thing, that only gilds the apprehension, and plays 
upon the surface of the soul. It was not the mere crackhng of 
thorns, or sudden blaze of the spirits, the exultation of a tickled 
fancy, or a pleased appetite. Joy was then a masculine and a 
severe thing ; the recreation of the judgment, the jubilee of 
reason. It was the result of a real good, suitably applied. It 
commenced upon the solidities of truth, and the substance of 
fruition. It did not run out in voice or indecent eruptions, but 
filled the soul, as God does the universe, silently and without 
noise. It was refreshing, but composed, hke the pleasantness of 
youth tempered with the gravity of age ; or the mirth of a 
festival managed with the silence of contemplation. 

And on the other side, for sorrow ; had any loss or disaster 
made but room for grief, it would ha^ e moved according to the 

30 DR. SOUTH's sermons. [[sERM. II. 

severe allowances of prudence, and the proportions of the pro- 
vocation. It would not have sallied out into complaint or loud- 
ness, nor spread itself upon the face, and writ sad stories upon 
the forehead. No wringing of the hands, knocking the breast, 
or wishing one's self unborn ; all which are but the ceremonies 
of sorrow, the pomp and ostentation of an effeminate grief; 
which speak not so much the greatness of the misery, as the 
smallness of the mind. Tears may sj)oil the eyes, bvit not wash 
away the affliction. Sighs may exhaust the man, but not eject 
the burden. Sorrow then would have been as silent as thought, 
as severe as philosophy. It wovild have rested in inward senses, 
tacit dislikes ; and the whole scene of it been transacted in sad 
and silent reflections. 

Then again for hope. Though indeed the fulness and affluence 
of man's enjoyments in the state of innocence, might seem to 
leave no place for hope, in respect of any farther addition, but 
only of the prorogation and future continuance of what already 
he possessed : yet doubtless God, who made no faculty, but also 
provided it with a proper object, upon which it might exercise 
and lay out itself, even in its greatest innocence, did then exer- 
cise man's hopes with the expectations of a better paradise, or a 
more intimate admission to himself. For it is not imaginable, 
that Adam could fix upon such poor, thin enjoyments, as riches, 
pleasure, and the gaieties of an animal life. Hope, indeed, was 
always the anchor of the soul, yet certainly, it was not to catch 
or fasten upon such mud. And if, as the apostle says, " no man 
hopes for that which he sees," mvicli less could Adam then hope 
for such things as he saw through. 

And, lastly, for the affection oi fear. It was then the instru- 
ment of caution, not of anxiety ; a guard, and not a torment to 
the breast that had it. It is now indeed an unhappiness, the 
disease of the soul : it flies from a shadow, and makes more 
dangers than it avoids ; it weakens the judgment, and betrays the 
succours of reason : so hard is it to tremble, and not to err, and 
to hit the mark with a shaking hand. Then it fixed upon him 
who is only to be feared, God ; and yet, with a filial fear, which 
at the same time both fears and loves. It was awe without 
amazement, dread without distraction. There Avas then a beauty 
even in tliis very paleness. It was the colour of devotion, giving 
a lustre to reverence, and a gloss to humility. 

Thus did the passions then act without any of their present 
jars, combats, or repugnances ; all moving with the beauty of 
uniformity, and the stillness of composure. Like a well governed 
army, not for fighting, but for rank and oi'der. I confess the 
scripture does not expressly attribute these sevei'al endowments 
to Adam in his first estate. But all that I have said, and much 
more, may be drawn out of that shoi't aphorism, " God made 
man upright," Eccles. vii. 29. And since the opposite weak- 


nesses now infest the nature of man fallen, if we will be true 
to the rule of contraries, we must conclude, that those perfections 
were the lot of man innocent. 

Now from this so exact and regular composure of the faculties, 
all moving in their due place, each striking in its proper time, 
there arose, by natural consequence, the crowning perfection of 
all, a good conscience. For, as in the body when the principal 
parts, as the heart and liver, do their offices, and all the inferior, 
smaller vessels act orderly and duly, there arises a sweet enjoy- 
ment upon the whole, which we call health : so in the soul, when 
the supreme faculties of the will and understanding move regu- 
larly, the inferior passions and affections following, there arises a 
serenity and complacency upon the whole soul infinitely beyond 
the greatest bodily pleasures, the highest quintessence and elixir 
of worldly delights. There is in this case a kind of fragrancy 
and spiritual perfume upon the conscience, much like what Isaac 
spoke of his son's garments, " That the scent of them was like 
the smell of a field which the Lord had blessed." Such a fresh- 
ness and flavoiu" is there upon the soul, when daily watered with 
the actions of a virtuous life. Whatsoever is pure, is also 

Ha^dng thus surveyed the image of God in the soul of man, 
we are not to omit now those characters of majesty that God 
imprinted upon the body. He drew some traces of his image 
upon tliis also, as much as a spiritual substance could be pictured 
upon a corporeal. As for the sect of the Anthropomorphites, 
who from hence ascribe to God the figure of a man, eyes, hands, 
feet, and the like, they are too ridiculous to deserve a confutation. 
They would seem to draw this impiety from the letter of the 
scriptiu'e sometimes speaking of God in this manner. Absurdity ! 
as if the mercy of scripture expressions ought to warrant the blas- 
phemy of our opinions ; and not rather show us, that God con- 
descends to VIS, only to draw us to himself; and clothes himself in 
our likeness only to win us to his own. The jDractice of the 
papists is much of the same nature, in their absurd and impious 
picturing of God Almighty : but the wonder in them is the less, 
since the image of a deity may be a proper object for that, which 
is but the image of a religion. But to the purpose : Adam was 
then no less glorious in his externals ; he had a beautiful body, as 
well as an immortal soul. The whole compound was hke a well 
built temple, stately without, and sacred within. The elements 
were at perfect union and agreement in his body; and their con- 
trary qualities served not for the dissolution of the compound, but 
the variety of the composure. Galen, who had no more divinity 
than what his physic taught him, barely upon the consideration of 
this so exact frame of the body, challenges any one, upon a hun- 
dred years' study, to find how any the least fibre, or most minute 
particle, might be more commodiously placed, either for the ad- 

32 DR. SOUTh's sermons. [^SERM. II. 

vantage of use or comeliness. His stature erect, and tending up- 
Avards to liis centre ; his countenance majestic and comely, with 
the lustre of a native beauty, that scorned the poor assistance of 
art or the attempts of imitation ; his body of so much quickness 
and agihty, that it did not only contain but also represent the 
soul : for we might well suppose that Avhere God did deposit so 
rich a jewel, he would suitably adorn the case. It was a fit 
work-house for sprightly, vivid faculties to exercise and exert 
themselves in. A fit tabernacle for an immortal soul, not only 
to dwell in, but to contemplate upon ; where it might see the 
world without travel, it being a lesser scheme of the creation, 
nature contracted, a little cosmography or map of the universe. 
Neither was the body then subject to distempers, to die by piece- 
meal, and languish under coughs, catarrhs, or consumptions. 
Adam knew no disease, so long as temperance from the forbidden 
fruit secured them. Nature was his physician, and innocence 
and abstinence would have kept him healtliful to immortality. 

Now the tise of this point might be various, but at present it 
shall be only this, to remind us of the irreparable loss that we 
sustained in our first parents, to show us of how fair a portion 
Adam disinherited his whole posterity by one single prevarication. 
Take the picture of a man in the greenness and vivacity of his 
youth, and in the latter date and declensions of his drooping 
years, and you will scarce knoAv it to belong to the same person : 
there would be more art to discern, than at first to draw it. The 
same and greater is the difterence between man innocent and 
fallen. He is, as it were, a new kind or species ; the plague of 
sin has even altered his nature and eaten into his very essentials. 
The image of God is wiped out, the creatures have shaken oflf Ms 
yoke, renounced his sovereignty, and revolted from liis dominion. 
Distempers and diseases have shattered the excellent frame of 
his body ; and, by a new dispensation, " immortality is swallowed 
up of mortaUty." The same disaster and decay also has invaded 
his spirituals ; the passions rebel, every faculty would usurp and 
rule, and there are so many governors, that there can be no 
government. The light within us is become darkness, and the 
understanding, that should be eyes to the blind faculty of the will, 
is blind itself, and so brings all the inconveniences that attend a 
blind follower under the conduct of a blind guide. He that 
would have a clear ocidar demonstration of this, let him reflect 
upon that numerous litter of strange, senseless, absurd opinions, 
that crawl about the world, to the disgrace of reason, and the 
unanswerable reproach of a broken intellect. 

The two great perfections, that both adorn and exercise man's 
understanding, are philosophy and religion : for the first of these, 
take it even among the professors of it where it most flourished, 
and we shall find the very first notions of common sense de- 
bauched by them. For there have been such as have asserted. 


' That there is no such thing in the world as motion : that con- 
tradictions may be true.' There has not been wanting one, that 
has denied snow to be wliite. Such a stupidity or wantonness 
had seized upon the most raised wits, that it might be doubted 
whether the philosophers or the owls of Athens were the quicker 
sighted. But then for rehgion ; what prodigious, monstrous, mis- 
shapen births has the reason of fallen man produced ! It is now 
ahnost six thousand years that far the greatest part of the world 
has had no other religion but idolatry : and idolatry certainly is 
the first-born of folly, the great and leading paradox, nay the 
very abridgment and sum total of all absurdities. For is it not 
strange that a rational man should worsliip an ox, nay, the image 
of an ox ? That he should fawn upon his dog ? Bow himself 
before a cat ? Adore leeks and garlic, and shed penitential tears 
at the smell of a deified onion ? Yet so did the Egyptians, once 
the famed masters of all arts and learning. And to go a little 
farther, we have yet a stranger instance in Isa. xHv. 14, "A 
man hews liim down a tree in the wood, and part of it he burns," 
in ver. 16, and in ver. 17, "with the residue thereof he maketli a 
god." With one part he furnishes his chimney, Avith the other 
his chapel. A strange thing, that the fire must first consume tliis 
part, and then burn incense to that. As if there was more divi- 
nity in one end of the stick than in the other ; or, as if it could 
be graved and painted omnipotent, or the nails and the hammer 
could give it an apotheosis. Briefly, so great is the change, so 
deplorable the degradation of our nature, that, whereas before 
we bore the image of God, we now retain only the image of men. 

In the last place, we learn from hence the excellency of Chris- 
tian religion, in that it is the great and only means that God has 
sanctified and designed to repair the breaches of humanity, to set 
fallen man upon his legs again, to clarify his reason, to rectify 
his will, and to compose and regulate his affections. The whole 
business of our redemption is, in short, only to rub over the de- 
faced copy of the creation, to reprint God's image upon the soul, 
and, as it were, to set forth nature in a second and a fairer edition. 

The recovery of which lost image, as it is God's pleasure to 
command, and om' duty to endeavour, so it is in his power only 
to effect. 

To whom be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, 
might, majesty, and dominion, both now and for evermore, Amen. 

VOL. I. D 


The first preached at St. Mary's, Oxford, July 24, 1659, being the time of the Assizes ; 

as also of the fears and groans of the nation, in the threatened and expected ruin of 
I the laws, ministry, and universities.^The second preached before the Honourable 

Society of Lincoln's Inn. 





Honoured Sir, 

Though at first it was free, and in my choice, whether or no I 
should publish these discourses, yet the publication being once resolved, 
the dedication was not so indifferent ; the nature of the subject, no less 
than the obligations of the author, styling them, in a peculiar manner, 
yours : for since their drift is to carry the most endangered and endanger- 
ing truth above the safest, when sinful, interest; as a practice upon 
grounds of reason the most generous, and of Christianity the most re- 
ligious ; to whom rather should this assertion repair as to a patron, than 
to him whom it has for an instance ? Who, in a case of eminent com- 
petition, chose duty before interest ; and when the judge grew incon- 
sistent with the justice, preferred rather to be constant to sure principles, 
than to an unconstant government : and to retreat to an innocent and 
honourable privacy, than to sit and act iniquity by a law ; and make 
your age and conscience (the one venerable, the other sacred) drudges 
to the tyranny of fanatic, perjured usurpers. 

The next attempt of this discourse is a defence of the ministry, 
and that at such a time when none owned them upon the bench, 
for then you had quitted it; but when, on the contrary, we lived to 
hear one in the very face of the university, as it were in defiance of us 
and our profession, openly in his charge defend the quakex's and fana- 
tics, persons not fit to be named in such courts, but in an indictment. 
But, Sir, in the instructions I here presumed to give to others, concern- 
ing what they should do, you may take a narrative of what you have 
done : what respected their actions as a rule or admonition, applied to 
yours is only a rehearsal, whose zeal in asserting the ministerial cause 
is so generally known, so gratefully acknowledged, that I dare afiirm, 
that in what I deliver, you read the words indeed of one, but the thanks 
of all. Which affectionate concernment of yours for them, seems to 
argue a spiritual sense, and experimental taste of their works, and 


that you have reaped as much from their labours, as others have done 
from their lands : for to me it seemed always strange, and next to im- 
possible, that a man, converted by the word preached, should ever hate 
and persecute a preacher. And since you have several times in dis- 
course declared yourself for that government in the Church, which is 
founded upon scripture, reason, apostolical practice, and antiquity, and 
we are sure the only one that can consist with the present government 
of state, I thought the latter discourse also might fitly address itself to 
you ; in the which you may read your judgment, as in the other your 

And now, since it has pleased Providence at length to turn our cap- 
tivity, and answer persecuted patience with the unexpected returns of 
settlement ; to remove our rulers, and restore our ruler ; and not only 
to make our " exactors righteousness," but, what is better, to give us 
righteousness instead of exaction, and hopes of religion to a Church 
worried with reformation ; I believe, upon a due and impartial reflection 
on what is past, you now find no cause to repent, that you never dipped 
your hands in the bloody high courts of justice, properly so called only 
by antiphrasis ; nor ever prostituted the scarlet robe to those employ- 
ments, in which you must have worn the colour of your sin in the badge 
of your ofiice : but notwithstanding all the enticements of a prosperous 
villany, abhorred the purchase, when the price was blood. So that 
now, being privileged by a happy unconcernment in those legal murders, 
you may take a sweeter relish of your own innocence, by beholding 
the misery of others' guilt, who being guilty before God, and infamous 
before men, obnoxious to both, begin to find the first-fruits of their sin 
in the universal scorn of all, their apparent danger and unlikely remedy : 
which beginnings being at length consummated by the, hand of justice, 
the cry of blood and sacrilege will cease, men's doubts will be satisfied, 
and Providence absolved. 

And thus, Sir, having presumed to honour my first essays in divinity 
by prefixing to them a name to which divines are so much obliged ; I 
should here, in the close of this address, contribute a wish at least to 
your happiness : but since we desire it not yet in another world, and 
your enjoyments in this (according to the standard of a Christian desire) 
are so complete, that they require no addition, I shall turn my wishes 
into giatulations ; and congratulating their fulness, only wish their con- 
tinuance : praying, that you may still possess what you possess ; and do 
what you do ; that is, reflect upon a clear, unbiotted, acquitting con- 
science, and feed upon the ineffable comforts of the memorial of a con- 
quered temptation, without the danger of returning to the trial. And 
this, Sir, I account the greatest felicity that you can enjoy, and therefore 
the greatest that he can desire, who is 

Yours in all observance, 

Robert South. 
Christ Church, May 25, 1660. 




interest deposed, and truth restored. 

Matthew x. 33. 

But whosoever shall deny me before men, him icill I also deny before 
my Father ivhich is in heaven. 

As the great comprehensive gospel duty is the denial of self, 
so the grand gospel sin that confronts it is the denial of Christ. 
These two are both the commanding and the dividing principles 
of all our actions : for whosoever acts in opposition to one, does 
it always in behalf of the other. None ever opposed Christ, 
but it was to gratify self; none ever renounced the interest of 
self, but from a prevailing love to the interest of Christ. The 
subject I have here pitched \\\)on may seem improper in these 
times, and in tliis place, where the number of professors and of 
men is the same ; where the cause and interest of Christ has been 
so cried up ; and Christ's personal reign and kingdom so called for 
and expected. But since it has been still preached up, but acted 
down ; and dealt with, as the eagle in the fable did with the 
oyster, carrying it up on high, that by letting it fall he might 
dash it in pieces : I say, since Christ must reign, but his truths 
be made to serve ; I suppose it is but reason to distinguish be- 
tween profession and pretence, and to conclude, that men's present 
crying, " Hail, king," and bending the knee to Christ, are only 
in order to his future crucifixion. 

For the discovery of the sense of the words, I shall inquire 
into their occasion. From the very beginning of the chapter we 
have Christ consulting the propagation of the gospel ; and in 
order to it (being the only way that he knew to effect it) sending 
forth a ministry ; and giving them a commission, together with 
instructions for the execution of it. He would have them fidly 
acquainted with the nature and extent of their office ; and so he 
joins commission with instruction ; by one he conveys power, by 
the other knowledge. Supposing, I conceive, that upon such an 
undertaking, the more learned his ministers were, they Avould 
prove never the less faitliful.* And thus having fitted them, 
and stripped them of all manner of defence, v. 9, " he sends them 

* In the parliament 1653, it being put to the vote, whether they should support and 
encourage a godly and learned ministry, tlie latter word was rejected, and the vote 
passed for a godly and faithful ministry. 


forth amongst wolves ;" a hard expedition, you will say, to go 
amongst wolves ; but yet much harder to convert them into 
sheep : and no less hard even to discern some of them, possibly 
being under sheep's clothing ; and so by the advantage of that 
dress, sooner felt than discovered : probably also such as had 
both the properties of wolves, that is, they could wliine and 
howl, as well as bite and devour. But, that they might not go 
altogether naked among their enemies, the only armour that 
Christ allows them is prudence and innocence : " Be ye wise as 
serpents, but harmless as doves," v. 16. Weapons not at all of- 
fensive, yet most suitable to their warfare, whose greatest en- 
counters were to be exhortations, and whose only conquest, 
escape. Innocence is the best caution, and we may unite the ex- 
pression, to be " wise as a serpent" is to be " harmless as a dove." 
Innocence is like polished armour ; it adorns, and it defends. In 
sum, he tells them, that the opposition they should meet with, 
was the greatest imaginable, from ver. 16 to 26. But in the en- 
suing verses he promises them an equal propoi'tion of assistance ; 
and, as if it were not an argument of force enough to outweigh 
the forementioned discouragements, he casts into the balance the 
promise of a reward to such as should execute, and of punishment 
to such as should neglect, their commission: the reward in the 
former verse, "Whosoever shall confess me before men," &c., the 
punishment in this, " But whosoever shall deny," &c. As if by 
way of pre-occupation, he should have said. Well; here you see 
your commission; this is your duty, these are your discourage- 
ments: never seek for shifts and evasions from worldly af- 
flictions; this is your reward, if you perform it; this is your 
doom, if you decline it. 

As for the explication of the words, they are clear and easy ; 
and their originals in the Greek are of single signification, with- 
out any ambiguity ; and therefore I shall not trouble you, by 
proposing how they run in this or that edition ; or straining for 
an interpretation where there is no difficulty, or distinction 
where there is no diflference. The only exposition that I shall 
give of them, will be to compare them to other parallel scriptures, 
and peculiarly to that in Mark viii. 38, "Whosoever therefore 
shall be ashamed of me and of my words in tliis adulterous 
and sinful generation, of liim also shall the Son of man be 
ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the 
holy angels." These words are a comment upon my text. 

1. What is here in the text called a " denying of Christ," is 
there termed a " being ashamed of him ;" that is, in those words 
the cause is expressed, and here the eflTect ; for therefore we deny 
a thing, because we are ashamed of it. First, Peter is ashamed 
of Christ, then he denies him. 

2. What is here termed a denying of "Christ," is there called 
a being ashamed of " Christ and his words :" Christ's truths are 

38 DR. SOUTH's sermons. [^SERM. III. 

his second self. And he that offers a contempt to a king's letters 
or edicts, virtually affronts the king ; it strikes his words, but it 
rebounds upon liis person. 

3. What is here said, " before men," is there phrased, " in tliis 
adulterous and sinful generation." These words import the hin- 
derance of the duty enjoined ; which therefore is here piu'posely 
enforced with a non obstante to all opposition. The term " adid- 
terous," I conceive, may chiefly relate to the Jews, who being 
nationally espoused to God by covenant, every sin of theirs was, 
in a peculiar manner, " spiritual adultery." 

4. What is here said, " I will deny him before my Father," is 
there expressed, " I will be ashamed of him before my Father 
and his holy angels ;" that is, when he shall come to judgment, 
when revenging justice shall come in pomp, attended with the 
glorious retinue of all the host of heaven. In short, the sen- 
tence pronounced declares the judgment, the solemnity of it the 

From the words we may deduce these observations : 

I. We shall find strong motives and temptations from men, to 
draw us to a denial of Christ. 

II. Xo terrors or solicitations from men, though never so 
great, can warrant or excuse such a denial. 

III. To deny Christ's words is to deny Christ. 

But since these observations are rather implied than expressed 
in the words, I shall wave them, and instead of deducing a doc- 
trine distinct from the words, prosecute the words themselves 
under this doctrinal paraphrase : 

Whosoever shall deny, disown, or be ashamed of either the 
person or truths of Jesus Christ, for any fear or favour of 
man, shall with shame be disowned, and eternally rejected 
by him at the dreadful judgment of the great day. 
The discussion of tliis shall lie in these tilings. 

I. To show how many ways Christ and his truths may be 
denied ; and what is the denial here chiefly intended. 

II. To show what are the causes that induce men to a denial 
of Christ and his truths. 

III. To show how far a man may consult his safety in time 
of persecution, without denying Christ. 

IV. To show what is imported in Christ's denying us before 
his Father in heaven. 

V. To apply all to the present occasion. 

But before I enter upon these, I must briefly premise this ; 
that though the text and the doctrine run peremptory and abso- 
lute, " Whosoever denies Christ shall assuredly be denied by 
him ;" yet still there is a tacit condition in the words supposed, — 
unless repentance intervene. For this and many other scriptures, 
though as to their formal terms they are absolute, yet as to their 
sense they are conditional. God in mercy has so framed and 


tempered ^his word, that we have, for the most part, a reserve of 
mercy wrapped up in a curse. And the very first judgment that 
was pronounced upon fallen man, was with the allay of a pro- 
mise. Wheresoever we find a curse to the guilty expressed, in 
the same words mercy to the penitent is still understood. This 
premised, I come now to discuss the first thing, viz. 

I. HoiD many icays Christ arid his truths may be denied ; and 
what is the denial here chiefly intended. Here first in general I 
assert, that we may deny Mm in all those acts that are capable 
of being morally good or evil ; those are the proper scene in which 
we act our confessions or denials of him. Accordingly, there- 
fore, all ways of denying Christ I shall comprise under these three. 

1. We may deny him and his truths by an erroneous, heretical 
judgment. I know it is doubted whether a bare error in judg- 
ment can condemn; but since truths absolutely necessary to 
salvation ai'e so clearly revealed, that we cannot err in them, 
unless we be notoriously wanting to ourselves ; herein the fault 
of the judgment is resolved into a precedent default in the will ; 
and so the case is put out of doubt. And here it may be replied, 
Are not truths of absolute and fundamental necessity very 
disputable ; as the deity of Christ, the Trinity of persons ? If 
they are not in themselves disputable, why are they so much 
disputed ? Indeed, I believe, if we trace these disputes to their 
original cause, we shall find, that they never sprung from a 
reluctancy in reason to embrace them. For this reason itself 
dictates, as most rational, to assent to any thing, though seem- 
ingly contrary to reason, if it is revealed by God, and we are 
certain of the revelation. These two supposed, these disputes 
must needs arise only from curiosity and singularity ; and these are 
faidts of a diseased will. But some will farther demand, in 
behalf of these men, whether such as assent to every word in 
scripture (for so will those that- deny the natural deity of Christ 
and the Spirit) can be yet said in doctrinals to deny Christ ? To 
this I answer, Since words abstracted from their proper sense 
and signification lose the nature of words, and are only equivo- 
cally so called ; inasmuch as the persons we speak of take them 
thus, and derive the letter from Christ, but the signification from 
themselves, they cannot be said properly to assent so much as to 
the words of the scripture. And so their case also is clear. But 
yet more fully to state the matter, how far a denial of Christ in 
belief and judgment is damnable : we will propose the question. 
Whether those who hold the fundamentals of faith may deny 
Christ damnably, in respect of those superstructures and conse- 
quences that arise from them ? I answer in brief. By funda- 
mental truths are understood, (1.) Either such, without the 
belief of which we cannot be saved : or, (2.) Such, the belief of 


which is sufficient to save : if the question be proposed of fun- 
damentals in tliis latter sense, it contains its own answer ; for 
where a man believes those truths, the belief of which is sufficient 
to save, there the disbelief or denial of theu- consequences cannot 
damn. But what, and how many these fundamentals are, it wiU 
then be agreed on, when all sects, opinions, and persuasions, do 
unite and consent. 2dly, If we speak of fundamentals in the 
former sense, as they are only truths, without which we cannot 
be saved : it is manifest that Ave may believe them, and yet be 
damned for denying tlieir consequences : for that which is only a 
condition, without wliich we cannot be saved, is not therefore a 
cause sufficient to save ; much more is required to the latter 
than to the fonner. I conclude, therefore, that to deny Christ 
in our judgment, will condemn, and this concerns the learned : 
Clu'ist demands the homage of your understanding ; he will have 
your reason bend to him, you must put your heads under his 
feet. And we know, that heretofore, he who had the leprosy in 
this part was to be pronounced unclean. A poisoned reason, an 
infected judgment, is Christ's greatest enemy. And an error in 
the judgment is like an imposthume in the head, which is always 
noisome, and frequently mortal. 

2. We may deny Christ verbally, and by oral expressions. 
Now our words are the interpreters of our hearts, the transcripts 
of the judgment, with some farther addition of good or evil. He 
that interprets, usually enlarges. What our judgment w^hispers 
in secret, these proclaim upon the housetop. To deny Christ in 
the former imports enmity ; but in these, open defiance. Christ's 
passion is renewed in both ; he that misjudges of him condemns 
him ; but he that blasphemes him spits in his face. Thus the 
Jews and the pharisees denied Christ : " We know that this man 
is a sinner," John ix. 24 ; " and a deceiver," Matt, xxvii. 63 ; 
" and he casts out devils by the prince of devils," Matt. xii. 24. 
And thus Christ is daily denied, in many blasjihemies printed 
and divulged, and many horrid opinions vented against the truth. 
The schools dispute whether in morals the external action super- 
adds any thing of good or evil to the internal ehcit act of the 
will ; but certainly the enmity of our judgments is wrought up 
to a high pitch, before it rages in an open denial. And it is a 
sign that it is grown too big for the heart, when it seeks for vent 
in our words. Blasphemy uttered is error heightened with 
impudence ; it is sin scorning a conceahnent, not only committed, 
but defended. He that denies Christ in his judgment, sins ; but 
he that speaks his denial, vouches and owns his sin ; and so, by 
publishing it, does wdiat in him hes, to make it universal, and by 
Avriting it, to establish it eternal. There is another Avay of 
denying Christ with our mouths, which is negative; that is, 
when we do not acknowledge and confess him : but of this I 


sliall have occasion to treat under the discussion of the third 
o'eneral head. 

3. We may deny Christ in our actions and practice ; and these 
speak nuich louder than our tongues. To have an orthodox 
belief, and a true profession, concurring with a bad life, is only 
to deny Christ with a greater solemnity. Belief and j^rofession 
will speak thee a Christian but very faintly, when thy conversa- 
tion proclaims thee an infidel. Many, wliile they have preached 
Christ in their sermons, have read a lecture of atheism in their 
practice. We have many here who speak of godliness, mortifi- 
cation, and self-denial; but, if these are so, what means the 
bleating of the sheep, and the lowing of the oxen ; the noise of 
their ordinary sins, and the cry of their great ones ? If godly, 
why do they wallow and steep in all the carnalities of the world, 
under pretence of Christian liberty ? Why do they make reh- 
gion ridiculous by pretending to prophecy, and when their pro- 
phecies prove delusions, why do they blaspheme ?* If such are 
self-deniers, what means the griping, the prejudice, the covet- 
ousness, and the pluralities preached against, and retained, and 
the arbitrary government of many ? When such men ^^reach of 
self-denial and humility, I cannot but think of Seneca, who 
praised poverty, and that very safely, in the midst of his riches 
and gardens ; and even exhorted the world to thi*ow away their 
gold, perhaps (as one well conjectures), that he might gather it 
up ; so these desire men^ to be humble, that they may domineer 
without opposition. But it is an easy matter to commend pa- 
tience, when there is no- danger of any trial, to extol humility in 
the midst of honours, to begin a fast after dinner. \ But, oh, how 
Christ will deal Avith such persons, when he shall draw forth all 
their actions bare and stripped from this deceiving veil of their 
heavenly speeches ! He will then say, it was not your sad 
countenance, nor your hypocritical groaning, by which you^ did 
either confess or honour me : but your worldhness, your luxury, 
your sinister partial dealing ; these have denied me, these have 
wounded me, these have gone to my heart ; these have caused 
the weak to stumble, and the profane to blaspheme ; these have 
offended the one, and hardened the other. You have indeed 
spoke me fair, you have saluted me with your lips, but even then 
you betrayed me. Depart from me therefore, you professors of 
holiness, but you workers of iniquity. 

And thus having shown the three ways by which Christ may 

* A noted Independent divine, when Oliver Cromwell was sick, of which sickness 
he[died, declared that God had revealed to him that he should recover, and live thirty 
years longer, for that God had raised him up for a work which could not be done in 
less time. But Oliver's death being published two days after, the said divine publicly 
in prayer expostulated with God the defeat of his prophecy, in these words : " Lord, 
thou hast lied unto us ; yea, thou hast lied unto us." 

•j- Very credibly reported to have been done in an Independent congregation at 


be denied it may now be demanded. Which is the denial here 
intended in the words ? 

Answer (1.) I conceive, if the words are taken as they were 
particularly and personally directed to the apostles, upon the 
occasion of their mission to preach the gospel, so the denial of 
him was the not acknowledgment of the deity or godhead of 
Christ ; and the reason to prove, that this was then principally 
intended is this ; because this was the truth in those days cliiefly 
opposed, and most disbelieved ; as appears, because Christ and 
the apostles did most earnestly inculcate the belief of this, and 
accepted men upon the bare acknowledgment of this, and baptism 
was administered to such as did but profess this. Acts viii. 37, 
38. And indeed, as this one ajihorism, " Jesus Christ is the Son 
of God," is virtually and eminently the whole gospel ; so, to 
confess or deny it, is virtually to embrace or reject the whole 
round and series of gospel truths. For he that acknowledges 
Christ to be the Son of God, by the same does consequentially 
acknowledge that he is to be believed and obeyed, in whatsoever 
he doe^ enjoin and deliver to the sons of men ; and therefore, 
that we are to repent and believe, and rest upon him for salva- 
tion, and to deny ourselves ; and within the compass of this is 
included whatsoever is called gospel. 

As for the manner of our denying the deity of Christ here 
prohibited, I conceive, it was by words and oral expressions ver- 
bally to deny arid disacknowledge it. Tliis I ground upon these 
reasons : — 

1. Because it was such a denial as was "before men," and 
therefore consisted in open profession ; for a denial in judgment 
and practice, as such, is not always before men. 

2. Because it was such a denial or confession of him as would 
appear in preaching ; but tliis is managed in words and verbal 

But now, (2.) If we take the words as they are a general pre- 
cept equally relating to all times, and to all persons, though de- 
livered only upon a particular occasion to the apostles (as I sup- 
pose they are to be understood), so I think they comprehend all 
the three ways mentioned of confessing or denying Christ ; but 
principally in respect of practice ; and that, 1. Because by this 
he is most honoured or dishonoured. 2. Because without tliis 
the other two cannot save. 3. Because those who are ready 
enough to confess him both in judgment and i^rofession, are for 
the most part very prone to deny him shamefully in their 

Pass we now to a second thing, viz., to show, 

II. WJiat are the causes inducing men to deny Christ in his 
truths. I shall propose three. 

1. The seeming supposed absurdity of many truths i upon this 


foundation heresy always builds. The heathens derided the 
Christians, that still they required and pressed belief ; and well 
they might, say they, since the articles of their religion are so 
absurd, that upon principles of science they can never win assent. 
It is easy to draw it forth and demonstrate, how upon this score 
the chief heretics, that now are said to trouble the church, do 
oppose and deny the most important truths in divinity. As, 
first, hear the denier of the deity and satisfaction of Christ. 
What ! says he, can the same person be God and man ? the 
creature and the Creator ? Can we ascribe such attributes to 
the same thing, whereof one implies a negation and a contradic- 
tion of the other ? Can he be also finite and infinite, when to be 
finite is not to be infinite, and to be infinite not to be finite ? 
And when we distinguish between the person and the nature, 
was not that distinction an invention of the schools, savouring 
rather of metaphysics than divinity. If we say that he must 
have been God because he was to mediate between us and God, 
by the same reason, they will reply, we should need a mediator 
between us and Christ, who is equally God, equally offended. 
Then for his satisfaction they will demand, to whom this satis- 
faction is paid ? If to God, then God pays a price to himself ; 
and what is it else to require and need no satisfaction, than for 
one to satisfy himself? Next comes in the denier of the decrees 
and free grace of God. What ! says he, shall we exhort, admonish, 
and entreat the saints to beware of falling away finally, and at 
the same time assert that it is impossible for them so to fall ? 
What ! shall we erect two contradictory wills in God, or place 
two contradictories in the same will? and make the Avill of his 
purpose and intention run counter to the will of his approbation ? 
Hear another concerning the scripture and justification. What ! 
says the Romanist, rely in matters of faith upon a private 
spirit ? How do you know this is the sense of such a scriptiu-e ? 
Why, by the Spirit. But how will you try that spirit to be of 
God ? Why, by the scripture ; this he explodes as a circle, and 
so derides it. Then for justification. How are you justified by 
an imputed righteousness ? Is it yours before it is imputed, or 
not ? If not, as we must say, is this to be justified to have that 
accounted yours, that is not yours? But again, did you ever 
hear of any man made rich or wise by imputation ? Why then 
righteous or just ? Now these seeming paradoxes attending 
gospel truths, cause men of weak, prejudiced intellectuals to deny 
them, and in them, Christ ; being ashamed to own faith so much, 
as they think, to the disparagement of their reason. 

2. The second thing causing men to deny the truths of Chi'ist, 
is their unprofitableness. And no wonder if here men forsake 
the truth, and assert interest. To be pious is the way. to be 
poor. Truth still gives its followers its own badge and livery, a 
despised nakedness. It is hard to maintain the ti*uth, but much 

44 DR. south's sermons. [serm. hi. 

harder to be maintained by it ; could it ever yet feed, clothe, or 
defend its assertors ? Did ever any man quench his tliii'st or satisfy 
his hunger with a notion? Did ever any one live upon propositions? 
The testimony of Brutus concerning virtue, is the apprehension of 
most concerning truth ; that it is a name, but lives and estates are 
tilings, and therefore not to be thrown nvrnj UY>on words. That we 
are neither to worship or cringe to any tiling under the Deity, is a 
truth too strict for a Naaman ; he can be content to worsliip the 
true God, but then it must be in the house of Rimmon : the reason 
was implied in his condition, he was captain of tlie host, and there- 
fore he thought it reason good to bow to liimmon, rather than 
endanger his place ; better bow than break. Indeed sometimes 
Providence casts things so, that truth and interest lie the same 
way ; and, Avhen it is M'rapped up in this covering, men can be con- 
tent to follow it, to press hard after it, but it is, as Ave pursue 
some beasts, only for their skins ; take off the covering, and 
though men obtain the truth, they would lament the loss of that ; 
as Jacob wept and mourned over the torn coat when Joseph was 
alive. It is incredible to consider how interest outweighs truth. 
If a thing in itself be doubtful, let it make for interest, and it 
shall l)e raised at least into probable ; and if a truth be certain, 
and thwart interest, it will quickly fetch it down to but a pro- 
bability ; nay, if it does not carry with it an impregnable evi- 
dence, it will go near to debase it to a downright falsity. How 
much interest casts the balance in cases dubious, I could give 
sundry instances ; let one suffice, and that concerning the unlaw- 
fulness of usury. Most of the learned men in the Avorld succes- 
sively, both heathen and Christian, do assert the taking of use to 
be utterly unlawful; yet the divines of the reformed church 
beyond the seas, though most severe and rigid in other things, 
do generally affirm it to be lawful. That the case is doubtful, 
and may be disputed with plausible arguments on either side, we 
may well grant ; but what then is the reason that makes these 
divines so unanimously concur in this opinion? Indeed I shall 
not affirm this to be the reason, but it may seem so to many ; 
that they receive their salaries by way of pension, in present 
ready money, and so have no other way to improve them ; so 
that it may be suspected that the change of their salary would be 
the strongest argument to change their opinion. The truth is, 
interest is the grand wheel and sj)ring that moves the whole 
universe. Let Christ and truth say what they Avill, if interest 
Avill haA'C it, gain must be godliness ; if enthusiasm is in request, 
learning must be inconsistent Avith grace. If pay groAvs short, 
the university maintenance must be too great. Rather than 
Pilate Avill be counted Ctesar's enemy, he will pronounce Christ 
innocent one hour, and condemn him the next. How Christ is 
made to truckle under the Avorld, and Iioav his truths are denied 
and shuffled Avith for jDrofit and pelf, the clearest proof Avould be 


by induction and example. But as it is the most clear, so here 
it would be the most unpleasing ; wherefore I shall pass this 
over, since the world is now so peccant upon this account, that 
I am afraid instances would be mistaken for invectives. 

3. The third cause inducing men to deny Christ in his truths, 
is their apparent danger. To confess Christ is the ready Avay to 
be cast out of the synagogue. The church is a place of graves, 
as well as of worship and profession. To be resolute in a good 
cause, is to bring upon ourselves the punishments due to a Ijad. 
Truth indeed is a possession of the highest value, and therefore 
it must needs expose the owner to much danger. Christ is 
sometimes pleased to make the profession of himself costly, and 
a man cannot buy the truth, but he must pay down his life and 
his dearest blood for it. Christianity marks a man out for 
destruction ; and Christ sometimes chalks out such a way to sal- 
vation, as shall verify his own saying, " He that will save his 
life shall lose it." The first ages of the church had a more 
abundant experience of this ; what Paul and the rest planted by 
their preacliing, they watered with their blood. We know their 
usage was such, as Christ foretold, he sent them to wolves, and 
the common course then was Christianos ad leojies. For a man to 
give his name to Christianity in those days, was to list himself a 
martyr, and to bid farewell, not only to the pleasures, but also 
to the hopes of this life. Neither was it a single death only that 
then attended this profession, but the terror and sharpness of it 
was redoubled in the manner and circumstance. They had per- 
secutors Avhose invention Avas as great as their cruelty. Wit and 
malice consj^ired to find out such tortures, such deaths, and those 
of such incredible anguish, that only the manner of dying was 
the punishment, death itself the deliverance. To be a martj^r 
signifies only to witness the truth of Christ, but the witnessing 
of the truth was then so generally attended with this event, that 
martyrdom now signifies not only to witness, but to witness by 
death. The word, besides its own signification, importing their 
practice. And since Cliristians have been freed from heathens. 
Christians themselves have turned persecutors. Since Home 
from heathen was turned Christian, it has improved its persecu- 
tion into an inquisition. Now, when Christ and truth are upon 
these terms, that men cannot confess him, but upon pain of 
death, the reason of their apostasy and denial is clear ; men Avill 
be wise, and leave truth and misery to such as love it ; they are 
resolved to be cunning, let others run the hazard of being 
sincere. If they must be good at so high a rate, they know they 
may be safe at a cheaper. Si negare sufficiat, quis erit nocens ? 
If to deny Christ will save them, the truth shall never make 
them guilty. Let Christ and his flock lie open, and exposed to 
all weather of persecution, foxes will be sure to have holes. 
And, if it comes to this, that they must either renounce their 

46 rjR. south's sermons, Qserm. hi. 

religion, deny and blaspheme Clirist, or forfeit tlieir lives to the 
fire or the sword, it is but inverting Job's wife's advice, " Curse 
God, and live." 

III. We proceed now to the third thing, which is to show, 
how far a man may consult his safety in time of persecution without 
denying Christ. 

This he may do two ways. 

1. By withdrawing his person. Martyrdom is an heroic act 
of faith : an achievement beyond an ordinary pitch of it ; " to 
you," says the Spirit, " it is given to sufier," Phil. i. 29. It is 
a peculiar additional gift : it is a distinguishing excellency of 
degree, not an essential consequent of its nature. " Be ye harm- 
less as doves," says Christ ; and it is as natural to them to take 
flight upon danger, as to be innocent : let every man thoroughly 
consult the temj:)er of his faith, and weigh liis courage with his 
fears, his weakness, and liis resolutions together, and take the 
measure of both, and see which preponderates ; and if his spirit 
faints, if his heart misgives and melts at the very thoughts of 
the fire, let liim fly, and secure his own soul, and Christ's honour. 
Non negat Christum fugiendo, qui ideo fugit ne neget: he does 
not deny Christ by flying, who therefore flies that he may not 
deny him. Nay, he does not so much decline, as rather change 
his martyrdom : he flies from the flame, but repairs to a desert ; 
to poverty and hunger in a wilderness. Whereas, if he would 
dispense with his conscience, and deny his Lord, or swallow doAvn 
two or three contradictory oaths, he should neither fear the one, 
nor be forced to the other. 

2. By concealing his judgment. A man sometimes is no 
more bound to speak, than to destroy himself; and as nature 
abhors this, so religion does not command that. In the times of 
the primitive church, when the Christians dwelt amongst hea- 
thens, it is reported of a certain maid, how she came from her 
father's house to one of the tribunals of the Gentiles, and de- 
clared herself a Christian, spit in the judge's face, and so pro- 
voked liim to cause her to be executed. But wiU any say, that 
this was to confess Christ, or die a martyr ? He that, uncalled 
foi", uncompelled, comes and proclaims a persecuted truth, for 
which he is surely to die, only dies a confessor to his own folly, 
and a sacrifice to his own rashness. Martyrdom is stamped such 
only by God's command ; and he that ventures upon it without 
a call, must endure it without a reward : Christ will say, " Who 
required this at your hands?" His gospel does not dictate im- 
prudence : no evangelical precept justles out that of a lawful 
self-preservation. He, therefore, that thus throws himself upon 
the sword, runs to heaven before he is sent for ; where though 
perhaps Christ may in mercy receive the man, yet he will be 
sure to disown the martvr. 


And thus much concerning those lawful ways of securing our- 
selves in time of persecution : not as if these were always lawful : 
for sometunes a man is bound to confess Christ openly, though he 
dies for it ; and to conceal a truth is to deny it. But now, to 
show when it is our duty, and when unlawful to take these 
coiu'ses, by some general rule of a perpetual, never-faiUng truth, 
none ever would yet presume : for, as Aristotle says, " We are 
not to expect demonstration in etliics, or politics, nor to build 
certain rules upon the contingency of human actions :" so, inas- 
much as our flying from persecution, our confessing or concealing 
persecuted truths, vary and change their very nature, according 
to different circumstances of time, place, and persons, we cannot 
lunit their directions within any one universal precept. You will 
say then. How shall we knoAV when to confess, when to conceal 
a truth? when to wait for, when to decline persecution? In- 
deed, the only way that I think can be prescribed in this case, is 
to be earnest and importunate with God in prayer for special 
direction : and it is not to be imagined that he who is both faith- 
ful and merciful, will leave a sincere soul in the dark upon such 
an occasion. But this I shall add, that the ministers of God are 
not to evade, or take refuge in any of these two forementioned 
ways. They are pviblic persons ; and good shepherds must then 
chiefly stand close to the flock, when the wolf comes. For them 
to be silent in the cause of Christ, is to renounce it ; and to fly, 
is to desert it. As for that place urged in favour of the con- 
trary, in ver. 23, " When they persecute you in this city, flee into 
another," it proves nothing ; for the precept was particular, and 
concerned only the apostles ; and that, but for that time in which 
they were then sent to the Jews, at which time Christ kept 
them as a reserve for the future : for when after his death they 
were indifferently sent both to Jews and Gentiles, we find not 
this clause in their commission, but they were to sign the truths 
they preached with their blood ; as we know they actually did. 
And moreover, when Christ bids them, being " persecuted in 
one city, fly into another," it was not, as Grotius acutely ob- 
serves, " that they might lie hid, or be secure in that city, but 
that there they might preach the gospel :" so that their flight 
here was not to secure their persons, but to continue their busi- 
ness. I conclude, therefore, that faithful ministers are to stand 
and endure the brunt. A common soldier may fly, when it is 
the duty of him that holds the standard to die upon the place. 
And we have abundant encouragement so to do: Christ has 
seconded and sweetened liis command with his promise : yea, the 
thing itself is not only our duty, but our glory. And he who 
has done this work, has in the very work partly received his 
wages. And, were it put to my choice, I think I should choose 
rather, with spitting and scorn, to be tumbled into the dust in 
blood, bearing witness to any known truth of our dear Lord, 


now opposed by the enthusiasts of the present age, than by a 
denial of those truths through blood and perjury wade to a 
sceptre, and lord it in a throne. And we need not doubt, but 
truth, however oppressed, will have some followers, and at length 
jjrevail. A Christ, thovigh crucified, will arise : and as it is in 
the Rev. xi. 3, " The witnesses will prophesy, though it be in 

IV. Having thus despatched the third thing, I proceed to the 
fourth, which is to show, tohat it is for Christ to deny us before his 
Father in heaven. Hitherto we have treated of men's carriage 
to Christ in this world ; now we will describe his carriage to 
tliem in the other. These words clearly relate to the last judg- 
ment; and they are a summary description of his proceeding 
with men at that day. 

And here we will consider, 1. The action itself, " He will 
deny them. 2. The circumstance of the action, " He will deny 
them before his Father and the holy angels." 

1. Concerning the first : Christ's denying us is otherwise ex- 
pressed in Luke xiii. 27, " I know you not." To know, in scrip- 
ture language, is to approve ; and so, not to know, is to reject 
and condemn. Xow, who knows hoAv many Avoes are crowded 
into this one sentence, " I will deny him ?" It is, to say no more, 
a compendious expression of hell, an eternity of torments com- 
prised in a word : it is condemnation itself, and, what is most of 
all, it is condemnation from the mouth of a Saviour. Oh, the 
inexpressible horror that will seize upon a poor sinner, when he 
stands arraigned at the bar of divine justice ! When he shall 
look about and see his accuser, his Judge, the witnesses, all of 
them his remorseless adversaries ; the law impleading, mercy and 
the gospel upbraiding liim, the devil, his grand accuser, drawing 
his indictment ; numbering his sins with the greatest exactness, 
and aggravating them with the crudest bitterness ; and con- 
science, like a thousand witnesses, attesting every article, flying 
in his face, and rending his very heart : and then after all, Christ, 
from whom only mercy could be expected, owning the accusation. 
It will be hell enough to hear the sentence ; the very promulga- 
tion of the punishment Avill be part of the punishment, and 
anticipate the execution. If Peter was so abashed when Cln-ist 
gave him a look after his denial ; if there was so much dread in 
his looks when he stood as prisoner, how much greater will it be 
when he sits as a judge ! If it Avas so fearful when he looked his 
denier into repentance, what Avill it be when we shall look him 
into destruction ? Believe it, when we shall hear an accusation 
from an advocate, our eternal doom from our intercessor, it Avill 
convince us that a denial of Christ is something more than a 
few transitory words : what trembling, what outcries, what 
astonishment will there be upon the pronouncing this sentence ! 


Every word will come upon the sinner like an arrow striking 
tlii'ough his reins ; like thunder, that is heard, and consumes at 
the same instant. Yea, it will be a denial with scorn, with 
taunting exprobrations ; and to be miserable without commisera- 
tion is the height of misery. He that falls below pity, can fall 
no lower. Could I give you a lively representation of guilt and 
horror on this hand, and paint out eternal wrath, and decipher 
eternal vengeance on the other, then might I show you the con- 
dition of a sinner hearing himself denied by Christ : and for 
those Avhom Chrisjlias denied, it will be in vain to apj)eal to 
the Father, unless we can imagine that those whom mercy has 
condemned, justice will absolve. 

2. For the circumstance : " He will deny us before his Father 
and the holy angels." As much as God is more glorious than 
man, so much is it more glorious to be confessed before him, than 
before men ; and so much glory as there is in being confessed, so 
much dishonour there is in being denied. If there could be any 
room for comfort after the sentence of damnation, it Avould be 
this, to be executed in secret, to perish unobserved: as it is 
some allay to the infamy of him who died ignominiously to be 
buried privately. But when a man's folly must be spread open 
before the angels, and all his baseness ripped up before those pure 
spirits, this will be a double hell ; to be thrust into utter dark- 
ness, only to be punished by it, without the benefit of being con- 
cealed. A^Hien Cln-ist shall compare himself, who was denied, 
and the thing for wliich he was denied, together, and parallel his 
merits with a lust, and lay eternity in the Ijalance with a trifle, 
then the folly of the sinner's choice shall be the greatest sting of 
his destruction. For a man shall not have the advantage of his 
former ignorances and error to approve his sin. Things that 
appeared amiable by the light of this world, Avill appear of a 
different odious hue in the clear discoveries of the next : as that 
which appears to be of this colour by a dim candle, Avill be found 
to be of another, looked upon in the day. So when Christ 
shall have cleared up men's apprehensions about the value of 
things ; he will propose that Avorthy prize for which he was de- 
nied : he will hold it up to open view, and call upon men and an- 
gels : Behold, look, here is the thing, here is that j)iece of dirt, 
that windy applause, that poor transitory pleasure, that con- 
temptible danger, for which I was dishonoured, my truth disowned, 
and for which life, eternity, and God himself was scorned and 
trampled upon by tliis sinner : judge all the world, whether what 
he so desjDised in the other life, he deserves to enjoy in this? 
How will the condemned sinner then crawl forth, and appear in 
his filth and shanie, before that undefiled tribunal, like a toad or 
a snake in a king's presence chamber ? Nothing so irksome, as to 
have one's folly displayed before the prudent : one's impurity be- 
fore the pure. And all tliis, before that company surrounding 

VOL. I. E 


him, from which he is neither able to look off, nor yet to look 
upon. A disgrace put upon a man in company is unsupportable : 
it is heightened according to the greatness, and multiplied ac- 
cording to the number of the persons that hear it. And now, as 
this circumstance, " before his Father," fully speaks the shame, 
so likewise it speaks the danger of Christ's then denying us. 
For when the accusation is heard, and the person stands con- 
victed, God is immediately lifting up liis hand to inflict the eter- 
nal blow ; and when Christ denies to exhibit a ransom, to step 
between the stroke then coming and the sinner, it must inevita- 
bly fall upon him, and sink his guilty soul into that deep and 
bottomless gulf of endless perdition. This therefore is the sum 
of Christ's denying us before his Father, viz. unsupportable 
shame, unavoidable destruction. 

V. I proceed now to the uses which may be draicn from the 
truths delivered. And, 

1. Right honourable, not only the present occasion, but even 
the words themselves seem eminently to address an exhortation 
to your honours. As for others not to deny Christ, is openly to 
profess him ; so for you who are invested with authority, not to 
deny him, is to defend him. Know therefore that Christ does 
not only desire, but demand your defence, and that in a double 
respect ; 

(1.) In respect of his truth. (2.) Of his members. 

(1.) He requires that you should defend and confess him in 
his truth. Heresy is a tare sometimes not to be pulled up but 
by the civil magistrate. The words liberty of conscience are much 
abused for the defence of it, because not well understood. Every 
man may have liberty of conscience to think and judge as he 
pleases, l3ut not to vent what he pleases. The reason is, because 
conscience, bounding itself within the thoughts, is of j^rivate con- 
cernment, and the cognizance of these belong only to God : but 
when an opinion is published, it concerns all that hear it, and the 
public being endamaged by it, it becomes punishable by the ma- 
gistrate to whom the care of the public is intrusted. But there is 
one truth that concerns both ministry and magistracy, and all ; which 
is opposed by those who affirm, that " none ought to govern ujjon 
the earth, but Christ in person." Absurdly! as if the powers 
that are, destroyed his ; as if a deputy were not consistent with a 
king ; as if there were any opposition in subordination. They 
affirm also, that the wicked have no right to their estates ; but 
only the "ftxithful," that is, themselves, ought to "possess the 
earth." And it is not be questioned, but when they come to ex- 
plain this principle, by putting it into execution, there will be 
but few that have estates at present, but will be either found or 
made wicked. I shall not be so urgent, to press you to confess 
Christ, by asserting and owning the truth, contrarv to this, since 


it does not only ojD^^ose truth, but property ; and here to deny 
Christ, would be to deny yourselves, in a sense which none is 
like to do. 

(2.) Christ reqviires you to own and defend him in his mem- 
bers ; and amongst these, the chief of them, and such as most 
fall in your way, the ministeis ; I say, that despised, aliject, o^- 
pressed sort of men, the ministers, whom the world would make 
antichristian, and so deprive them of heaven ; and also strip 
them of that poor remainder of their maintenance, and so allow 
them no j^ortion upon the earth. You may now sjjare that dis- 
tinction of scandalous ministers, when it is even made scandalous 
to be a minister. And as for their discouragement in the courts 
of the law, I shall only note this, that for these many years last 
past, it has been the constant observation of all, that if a minister 
had a cause depending in the court, it was ten to one but it went 
against him. I cannot believe your law justles out the gospel ; 
but if it be thus used to undermine Christ in his servants, beware 
that such judgments passed upon them do not fetch down God's 
judgments upon the land ; and that for such abuse of law, Christ 
does not in anger deprive both you and us of its use. My lords, 
I make no doubt, but you will meet with many suits in your 
course, in which the persons we speak of are concerned, as it is 
easy to prognosticate from those many worthy petitions preferred 
against them, for which the well-affected petitioners * will one day 
receive but small thanks from the court of heaven. But how- 
ever their causes speed in your tribunals, know that Christ him- 
self will recognize them at a greater. And then, what a different 
face will be put upon things ! When the usurping, devouring 
Nimrods of the world shall be cast with scorn on the left hand ; 
and Christ himself in that great consistory shall deign to step 
down from his throne, and single out a poor despised minister, 
and, as it were, taking him by the hand, present him to, and 
openly thus confess him before his Father : Father, here is a poor 
servant of mine, who, for doing his duty impartially, for keeping 
a good conscience, and testifying my truths in a hypocritical 
pretending age, was wronged, trod upon, stripped of all : Father, 
I will, that there be now a distinction made between such as 
have owned and confessed me with the loss of the world, and 
those that have denied, persecuted, and insulted over me. It will 
be in vain then to come and creep for mercy : and say. Lord, 
when did we insult over thee? when did we see thee in our 
courts, and despised or oppressed thee ? Christ's reply will be 
then quick and sharp : Verily, inasmuch as you did it to one of 
these little, poor, despised ones, ye did it unto me. The 

2. Use is of information, to show us the danger as well as the 

* Whensoever any petition was put up to the parliament in the year ] 653, for the 
taking away of tithes, the thanks of the house were still returned to them, and that by 
the name and eulogy of the iveU-affected petitioners. 

E 2 


baseness of a dastardly spirit, in asserting the interest and tnitli 
of Christ. Since Christ has made a Christian course a warfare, 
of all men living a coward is the most unfit to make a Christian : 
whose infamy is not so great, but it is sometimes less than his 
peril. A coward does not always escape with disgrace, but some- 
times also he loses his life : wherefore, let all such know, as can 
enlarge their consciences like hell, and call any sinful compliance, 
submission, and style a cowardly silence in Christ's cause, discre- 
tion and prudence : I say, let them know, that Christ will one 
day scorn them, and spit them, with their policy and prudence, 
into hell ; and then let them consult, how poUtic they were, for 
a temporal emolument, to throw away eternity. The things 
which generally cause men to deny Christ, are, either the enjoy- 
ments or the miseries of this life : but, alas ! at the day of judg- 
ment all these will expire ; and, as one well observes, what are 
we the better for pleasure, or the worse for sorrow, when it is 
past ? But then sin and guilt will be still fresh, and heaven and 
hell will be then yet to begin. If ever it was seasonable to 
preach courage in the despised, abu^sed cause of Christ, it is now, 
when his truths are reformed into nothing, Avhen the hands and 
hearts of his faitliful ministers are weakened, and even broke, 
and liis worship extirpated in a mockeiy, that his honour may be 
advanced. Well, to establish our hearts in duty, let us before- 
hand propose to ourselves the worst that can happen. Should 
God in his judgment sutFer England to l)e transformed into a 
Munster : should the faithful be every where massacred : should 
the places of learning be demolished, and our colleges reduced 
(not only as one * in his zeal would have it) to three, but to none ; 
yet, assuredly, hell is worse than all this, and is the portion of 
such as deny Clrrist. Wlierefore, let our discouragements be 
what they will, loss of places, loss of estates, loss of life and re- 
lations ; yet still this sentence stands ratified in the decrees of 
heaven, " Cursed be that man, that for any of these shall desert 
the truth, and deny his Lord." 

* U. C, a colonel of the army, the perfidious cause of Penruddock's death, and 
some time after high-sheriff of Oxfordshire, openly and frequently affirmed the useless- 
ness of the universities, and that three colleges were sufficient to answer the occasions of 
the nation, for the breeding of men up to learning, so far as it was either necessary or 




[Preached before the Hon. Society of Lincoln's Inn.] 

1 Kings xiil 33, 34. 

After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, hut made 
again of the loioest of the -people priests of the high places : 
ichosoever tvould, he consecrated him, and he became one of the 
priests of the high places. And this thing became si?i unto the 
house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from 
off the face of the earth. 

Jeroboam, from the name of a person become the character 
of impiety, is reported to posterity eminent, or rather infamous, 
for two tilings : usurpation of government, and innovation of re- 
ligion. It is confessed, the former is expressly said to have been 
from God ; but since God may order and disjjose what he does not 
approve ; and use the wickedness of men while he forbids it ; the 
design of the first cause does not excuse the malignity of the 
second : and therefore, the advancement and sceptre of Jeroboam 
was in that sense only the work of God, in which it is said, 
Amos iii. 6, " That there is no e^-il in the city which the Lord 
hath not done." But from his attempts upon the civil power, 
he proceeds to innovate God's worship) ; and from the subjection 
of men's bodies and estates, to enslave their consciences, as know- 
ing that true religion is no friend to an unjust title. Such was 
afterwards the way of Mahomet, to the tyrant to join the im- 
postor, and what he had got by the sword to confirm by the Al- 
coran : raising his empire upon two pillars, conquest and inspi- 
ration. Jeroboam being thus advanced, and thinking pohcy the 
best piety, though indeed in nothing ever more befooled; the nature 
of sin being not only to defile, but to infatuate. In the twelfth 
chapter and the 27th verse, he thus argues, " If this people go 
up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then 
shall the heart of tliis people turn again unto their lord, even 
unto Eehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go 
again unto Rehoboam king of Judah." As if he should have 
said: The true worship of God, and the converse of those that 
use it, dispose men to a considerate lawful subjection. And 


therefore I must take another course ; my practice must not be 
better than my title ; what was won by force, must be continued 
by delusion. Thus sin is usually seconded with sin : and a man , 
seldom connnits one sin to please, but he commits another to de- 
fend himself: as it is frequent for the adulterer to commit 
murder to conceal the shame of his adultery. But let us see 
Jeroboam's politic procedure in the next verse : — " Whereupon 
the king took counsel, and "made two calves of gold, and said 
unto them. It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem, behold 
thy gods, O Israel." As if he had made such an edict : ' I Jero- 
boam, by the advice of my covmcil, considering the great dis- 
tance of the temple, and the great charges that poor peoj^le are 
put to in going thither; as also the intolerable burden of pay- 
ing the first-fruits and tithes to the priest, have considered of a 
way that may be more easy, and less burdensome to the people, 
as also more comfortable to the priests themselves ; and therefore 
strictly enjoin, that none henceforth presume to repair to the 
temple at Jerusalem, especially since God is not tied to any place 
or form of worship ; as also, because the devotion of men is apt 
to be clogged by such ceremonies ; therefore both for the ease of 
the people, as well as for the advancement of rehgion, we require 
and command, that all henceforth forbear going up to Jenisalem.' 
Questionless these and such other reasons the impostor used to 
insinuate his devout idolatry. And thus the calves were set up, 
to which oxen must be sacrificed ; the god and the sacrifice out 
of the same herd. And because Israel was not to return to 
Egypt, Egypt was brought back to them : that is, the Egyptian 
way of worship, the Apis, or Sd'apis, which was nothing but 
the image of a calf or ox, as is clear from most liistorians. 
Thus Jeroboam having procured his people gods, the next thing 
was to provide priests. Hereupon to the calves he adds a com- 
mission for the approving, trying, and admitting the rascality 
and lowest of the people to minister in that service : such as 
kept cattle, with a little change in their office, were admitted to 
make oblations to them. And doubtless, besides the approbation 
of these, there was a commission also to eject such of the priests 
and Levites of Grod, as being too ceremoniously addicted to the 
temple, Avould not serve Jeroboam before God, nor worship his 
calves for their gold, nor approve those two glittering sins for 
any reason of state whatsoever. Having now perfected divine 
worship, and prepared both gods and priests ; in the next place, 
that he might the better teach his false priests the way of their 
new Avorship, he begins the service himself, and so countenances 
by his example what he had enjoined by his command, in the 
11th verse of this chapter: " And Jeroboam stood liy the altar 
to burn incense." Burning of incense was then the ministerial 
office amongst them, as preaching is now amongst us. So that 
to represent to you the nature of Jeroboam's action : it was, as 


if in a Christian nation the chief governor should authorize and 
encourage all the scum and refuse of the people to preach, and 
call them to the ministry by using to preach,* and invade the 
ministerial function himself. But Jeroboam rested not here, but 
while he was busy in his work, and a prophet immediately sent 
by God declares against his idolatry, he endeavours to seize upon 
and commit him ; in ver. 4, " He held forth his hand from the 
altar, and said. Lay hold of him." Thus we have him complet- 
ing his sin, and by a strmige imposition of hands persecuting the 
true prophets, as well as ordaining false. But it was a natural 
transition, and no ways wonderful to see him, who stood affront- 
ing God with false incense in the right hand, persecuting with 
the left, and abetting the idolatry of one arm with the violence 
of the other. Now if we lay all these things together, and con- 
sider the parts, rise, and degrees of his sin, we shall find, that it 
was not for nothing that the Spirit of God so frequently and 
bitterly in scripture stigmatizes this person : for it represents 
him, first encroaching upon the civil government, thence chang- 
ing that of the church, debasing the office that God had made 
sacred ; introducing a false way" of worship, and destroying the 
true. And in this we have a full and fair description of a foul 
thing, that is, of a usurper and an impostor: or, to use one 
word more comprehensive than both, " of Jeroboam the son of 
Nebat, who made Israel to sin." 

From the story and practice of Jeroboam we might gather 
these observations : 

I. That God sometimes punishes a notorious sin, by suffering 
the sinner to fall into a worse. Thus God punished the rebellion 
of the Israelites, by permitting them to fall into idolatry. 

II. There is nothing so absurd, but may be obtruded upon the 
vulgar under pretence of religion. Certainly, otherwise a golden 
calf could never have been made either the object or the means 
of divine worship. 

III. Sin, especially that of perverting God's worship, as it 
leaves a guilt upon the soul, so it perpetuates a blot upon the 
name. Hence nothing so frequent, as for the Spirit of God to 
express wicked, irreligious kings, by comparing them to Ahab 
or Jeroboam. It being usual to make the first and most eminent 
in any kind, not only the standard for comparison, but also the 
rule of expression. 

But I shall insist only upon the words of the text, and what 
shall be drawn from thence. There are two things in the words 
that may seem to require explication. 1. What is meant by the 
high places. 2. What, by the consecration of the priests. 

1. Concerning the high places. The use of these in the divine 
worship was general and ancient ; and as Dionysius Vossius ob- 
serves in his notes upon Moses Maimonides, the first way that 

* Cromwell (a lively copy of Jeroboam) did so. 


was used, long before temples were either built or thought law- 
ful. The reason of this seems to be, because those places could 
not be thought to shut up or confine the immensity of God, as 
they supposed a house did ; and withal gave liis worshippers a 
nearer approach to heaven by their height. Hence we read that 
the Samaritans worshipped upon mount Gerizim, John iv. 20 ; 
and Samuel went up to the high place to sacrifice, 1 Sam ix. 14 ; 
and Solomon sacrificed at the high place in Gibeon, 1 Kings iii. 
1 ; yea, the temple itself was at length built upon a mount or 
high place, 2 Chron. iii. 1. You will say then. Why are these 
places condemned? I answer, That the use of them Avas not 
condemned, as absolutely and always unlawful in itself, but only 
after the temple was built, and that God had professed to j^ut 
his name in that place and no other : therefore, what was lawful 
in the practice of Samuel and Solomon before the temple was in 
being, was now detestable in Jeroboam, since that was consti- 
tuted by God the only place for his worship. To bring this 
consideration to the times of Christianity : because the apostles 
and primitive Christians preached in houses, and had only private 
meetings, in regard they were under persecution, and had no 
churches ; tliis cannot warrant the practice of those now-a-days, 
nor a toleration of them, that prefer houses before churches, and 
a conventicle before the congregation. 

2. For the second thing, Avhich is the consecration of the 
|)riests ; it seems to have been correspondent to ordination in the 
Christian church. Idolaters themselves were not so far gone, as 
to venture upon the priesthood Avithout consecration and a call. 
To show all the solemnities of this, Avould be tedious, and here 
unnecessary : the HebrcAV Avord Avhich Ave render to consecrate, 
signifies to Jill the hand, which indeed imports the manner of 
consecration, Avliich Avas done by filling the hand : for the priest 
cut a piece of the sacrifice and put it into the hands of him that 
Avas to be consecrated ; by Avhich ceremony he received right to 
sacrifice, and so became a priest. As our ordination in the 
Christian church is said to have been heretofore transacted by 
the bishop's delivering of the bible into the hands of him that 
was to be ordained, Avhereby he received power ministerially to 
dispense the mysteries contained in it, and so Avas made a pres- 
byter. Thus much briefly concerning consecration. 

There remains nothing else to be explained in the Avords : I 
shall therefore noAv draw forth the sense of them into these tAvo 

I. The surest means to strengthen, or the readiest to ruin the 
civil poAver, is either to establish or destroy the worship of God 
in the right exercise of religion. 

II. The next and most effectual Avay to destroy religion, is to 
embase the teachers and dispensers of it. 

Of both these in their order. 


I. For the prosecution of the former we are to show, 
1. The truth of the assertion, that it is so. 2. The reason of 
the assertion, Avhy and whence it is so. 

1. For the truth of it : it is abundantly evinced from all 
records both of diAdne and profane history, in which he that runs 
may read the ruin of the state in the destruction of the church ; 
and that not only portended by it, as its sign, but also inferred 
from it, as its cause. 

2. For the reason of the point ; it may be drawn, 

(1.) From the judicial proceeding of God, the great King of 
kings, and Supreme Ruler of the universe ; who for his com- 
mands is indeed careful, but for his worship jealous : and there- 
fore in states notoriously irreligious, by a secret and irresistible 
power, countermands their deepest project, splits their counsels, 
and smites their most refined policies with frusti'ation and a 
curse ; being resolved that the kingdoms of the world shall fall 
down before him, either in his adoration or their own confusion. 

(2.) The reason of the doctrine may be drawn from the neces- 
sary dependence of the very principles of government upon 
religion. And this I shall pursue more fully. The great busi- 
ness of government is to procure obedience, and keep off dis- 
obedience : the great springs upon which those two move are 
rewards and punishments, answering the two ruling affections of 
man's mind, hope and fear. For since there is a natviral opposi- 
tion between the judgment and the appetite, the former respecting 
Avhat is honest, the latter what is pleasing ; which two qualifica- 
tions seldom concur in the same thing ; and since, withal, man's 
design in every action is delight ; therefore, to render things 
honest also practicable, they must be first represented as desirable, 
which cannot be but by proposing honesty clothed with pleasure ; 
and since it presents no pleasure to the sense, it must be fetched 
from the apprehension of a future reward : for, questionless, 
duty moves not so much upon command as jsromise. Now there ■ 
fore, that which proposes the greatest and most suitable rewards 
to obedience, and the greatest terror and punishments to dis- 
obedience, doubtless is the most likely to enforce one and prevent 
the other. But it is religion that does this, which to happiness 
and misery joins eternity. And these, supposing the immortality 
of the soul, which philosophy indeed conjectures, but only reli- 
gion proves, or (which is as good) persuades : I say these two 
things, eternal happiness and eternal misery, meeting with a 
persuasion that the soul is immortal, are without controversy, of all 
others, the first the most desirable, and the latter the most horrible 
to human apprehension. Were it not for these, civil government 
were not able to stand before the prevailing swing of corrupt 
nature, Avhicli Avould know no honesty but advantage, no duty 
but in pleasure, nor any law but its own Avill. Were not these 
frec[uently thundered into the understandings of men, the magis- 


trate might enact, order, and proclaim ; proclamations might be 
hung upon walls and posts, and there they might hang, seen and 
despised, more like malefactors than laws : but when religion 
binds them upon the conscience, conscience Avill either persuade 
or terrify men into their practice. For put the case, a man knew, 
and that upon sure grounds, that he might do an advantageous 
murder or robbery, and not be discovered ; what human laws 
covdd hinder him, which he knows cannot inflict any penalty, 
• where they can make no discovery ? But religion assures him, 
that no sin, though concealed from human eyes, can either escape 
God's sight in this Avorld, or his vengeance in the other. Put 
the case also, that men looked upon death without fear, in Avhich 
sense it is nothing, or at most very little ; ceasing while it is 
endured, and probably without pain, for it seizes upon the vitals 
and benmnbs the senses, and where there is no sense there can 
be no pain : I say, if while a man is acting his will towards sin, 
he should also thus act his reason to despise death, where would 
be the terror of the magistrate, who can neither threaten or inflict 
any more? Hence an old malefactor in his execution at the 
gallows made no other confession but this, that he had very 
jocundly passed over his life in such courses ; and he that would 
not for fifty years' pleasure endure half an hour's pain, deserved 
to die a worse death than hunself. Questionless this man was 
not ignorant before that there were such tilings as laws, assizes, 
and gallows ; but had he considered and believed the terrors of 
another world, he might probably have found a fairer passage 
out of this. If there was not a minister in every parish, you 
would quickly find cause to increase the number of constables : 
and if the churches were not employed to be places to hear God's 
law, there would be need of them to be prisons for breakers of 
the laws of men. Hence it is observable that the tribe of Levi 
had not one place or portion together like the rest of the tribes ; 
but because it was their office to dispense religion, they were 
diffused over all the tribes, that they might be continually 
preaching to the rest their duty to God ; which is the most 
effectual way to dispose them to obedience to man : for he that 
triily fears God cannot despise the magistrate. Yea, so near is 
the connexion between the civil state and religious, that hereto- 
fore, if you look upon well regulated, civilized heathen nations, 
you will find the government and the priesthood united in the 
same person : Anius, rex idem hominum, PhcBbique sacerdos. JE,n. 
3, ver. 80. If under the true worship of God : " Melchisedec, 
king of Salem, and priest of the most high God," Heb. vii. 1. 
And afterwards Moses (whom as we acknowledge a pious, so 
atheists themselves will confess to have been a wise prince), he, 
when he took the kingly government upon himself, by his own 
choice, seconded by divine institution, vested the priesthood in 
his bi^other Aaron, both wliose concernments were so coupled. 


that if nature had not, yet their religious, nay, civil interests 
would have made them brothers. And it Avas once the design 
of the emperorof Germany, Maximilian the first, to have joined the 
popedom and the empire together, and to have got himself chosen 
pope, and by that means derived the papacy to succeeding em- 
perors. Had he effected it, doubtless there would not have been 
such scuffles between them and the bishop of Home ; the civil 
interest of the state woidd not have been undermined by an ad- 
verse interest, managed by the specious and potent pretences of 
rehgion. And to see, even amongst us, hoAv these two are 
united, how the former is upheld by the latter : the magistrate 
sometimes cannot do his own office dexterously, but by acting 
the minister. Hence it is that judges of assizes find it necessary 
in their charges to use jDathetical discourses of conscience ; and 
if it were not for the sway of this, they would often lose the 
best evidence in the w^orld against malefactors, which is confes- 
sion : for no man would confess and be hanged here, but to avoid 
being damned hereafter. 

Thus I have, in general, shown the utter inability of the ma- 
gistrate to attain the ends of government, without the aid of re- 
ligion. But it may be here replied, that many are not at all 
moved with arguments drawn from hence, or with the happy or 
miserable state of the soul after death ; and therefore this avails 
little to procure obedience, and consequently to advance govern- 
ment, I answer by concession, That this is true of epicures, 
atheists, and some pretended philosophers, who ha^e stifled the 
notions of Deity and the soul's immortality ; but the unprepos- 
sessed on the one hand, and the well disposed on the other, who 
both together make much the major part of the world, are very 
apt to be affected with a due fear of these things ; and religion 
accommodating itself to the generality, though not to every par- 
ticular temper, sufficiently secures government : inasmuch as that 
stands or falls according to the behaviour of the multitude. And 
whatsoever conscience makes the generality obey, to that pru- 
dence wiU make the rest conform. Wherefore, having proved 
the dependence of government upon religion, I shall now 
demonstrate, that the safety of government depends upon the 
truth of religion. False religion is, in its nature, the greatest 
bane and destruction to government in the world. The reason 
is, because whatsoever is false is also weak. E71S and verum in 
philosophy are the same ; and so much as any religion has of 
falsity, it loses of strength and existence. Falsity gains autho- 
rity only from ignorance, and therefore is in danger to be known ; 
for from being false, the next immediate step is to be known to 
be such. And what prejudice this would be to the civil govern- 
ment is apparent, if men should be awed into obedience, and af- 
frighted from sin by rewards and punishments, proposed to them 
in such a religion, which afterwards should be detected, and found 


a mere falsity and cheat ; for if one jaart be but found to be false, 
it will make the whole suspicious. And men will then not only 
cast off obedience to the civil magistrate, but they will do it with 
disdain and rage, that they have been deceived so long, and 
brought to do that out of conscience, which was imposed uj)on 
them out of design : for though men are often willingly deceived, 
yet still it must be under an opinion of being instructed. 
Though they love the deception, yet they mortally hate it under 
that appearance : therefore it is noways safe for a magistrate, 
who is to build his dominion upon the fears of men, to build 
those fears upon a false religion. It is not to be doubted, but 
the absui'dity of Jeroboam's calves made many Israelites tiu-n 
subjects to Kehoboam's government, that they might be proselytes 
to his religion. Herein the weakness of the Turkish religion 
appears, that it urges obedience upon the promise of such absurd 
rewards, as that, after death, they should have palaces, gardens, 
beautiful women, with all the luxury that could be : as if those 
things, that were the occasions and incentives of sin in this world, 
could be the rewards of holiness in the other : besides many 
other inventions, false and absurd, that are like so many chinks 
and holes to discover the rottenness of the whole fabric, when God 
shall be pleased to give light to discover and open their reasons 
to discern them. But you will say, AVliat government more sure 
and absolute than the Turkish, and yet what religion more false ? 
Therefore certainly government may stand sure and strong, be 
the religion professed never so absurd. I answer, that it may be 
so by accident, through the strange peculiar temper and gross 
ignorance of a people, as we see it happens in the Turks, the 
best part of whose policy, supposing the absurdity of their reli- 
gion, is this, that they prohibit schools of learning ; for this hin- 
ders knowledge and disputes, which such a religion Avould not 
bear. But suppose we, that the learning of these western na- 
tions were as great there, as here, and the Alcoran as common to 
them as the bible to us, that they might have free recourse to 
search and examine the flaws and follies of it, and withal that 
they were of as inquisitive a temjier as we : and who knows, but 
as there are vicissitudes in the government, so there may happen 
the same also in the temper of a nation ? If this should come to 
pass, where would be their religion? And then let every one 
judge, whether the arcana imperii and religionis would not fall to- 
gether ? They have begun to totter already ; for Mahomet hav- 
ing promised to come and visit his follo^^'ers, and translate them 
to paradise, after a thousand years, this being expired, many of 
the Persians began to doubt and smell the cheat, till the mufti, 
or chief-priest, told them that it was a mistake in the figure, and 
assured them, that upon more diligent survey of the records, he 
found it two thousand, instead of one. When this is expired, 
perhaps tliey will nat be alilc to renew the fallacy. I say there- 


fore, that though this government continues firm in the exercise 
of a false rehgion, yet this is by accident, through the present 
genius of the people, which may change : but this does not prove 
but that the nature of such a religion, of Avhich we only now 
speak, tends to subvert and betray the civil power. Hence 
Machiavel himself, in his animadversions upon Livy, makes it 
appear, that the weakness of Italy, Avhich was once so strong, 
was caused by the corrupt practices of the papacy, in depraving 
and misusing religion to that purpose, which he, though himself a 
papist, says, could not have happened, had the Christian religion 
been kept in its first and native simplicity. Thus much may suf- 
fice for the clearing of the first proposition. 

The inferences from hence are two. 

1. If government depends upon religion, then this shows the 
pestilential design of those that attempt to disjoin the civil and 
ecclesiastical interest, setting the latter wholly out of the tuition 
of the former. But it is clear, that the fanatics know no other 
step to the magistracy, but through the ruin of the ministry. 
There is a great analogy l^etween the body natural and politic ; 
in which the ecclesiastical or spiritual part justly supplies the 
part of the soul, and the violent separation of this from the 
other does as certainly infer death and dissolution, as the dis- 
junction of the body and the soul in the natural ; for when this 
once departs, it leaves the body of the commonwealth a carcass, 
noisome, and exposed to be devoured by birds of prey. The 
ministry Avill be one day found, according to Christ's word, " the 
salt of the earth," the only tiling that keeps societies of men from 
stench and corruption. These two interests are of that nature, that 
it is to be feared they cannot be divided, but they will also prove 
opposite ; and, not resting in a bare diversity, quickly rise into a 
contrariety. These two are to the state what the elements of 
fire and water are to the body, which unitedcom pose, separated 
destroy it. I am not of the papists' opinion, who would make 
the spiritual above the civil state in power as well as dignity, but 
rather subject it to the civil ; yet thus much I dare affirm, that the 
civil, which is superior, is upheld and kept up in being by the 
ecclesiastical and inferior ; as it is in a building, where the upper 
part is supported by the lower ; the church resembling the foun- 
dation, which indeed is the lowest part, but the most considera- 
ble. The magistracy cannot so much jorotect the ministry, but 
the ministers may do more in serving the magistrate. A taste 
of which truth you may take from the holy w^ar, to which hoAV 
fast and eagerly did men go, when the priest persuaded them, 
that Avhosoever died in that expedition, was a martyr ? Those 
that will not be convinced what a help this is to the magistracy, 
would find how considerable it is, if they should chance to clash ; 
this would certainly eat out the other. For the magistrate can- 
not urge obedience upon such potent grounds, as the minister, if 


SO disposed, can urge disobedience. As for instance, if my 
governor should command me to do a thing, or I must die, or 
forfeit my estate ; and the minister steps in, and tells me, that 
I offend Grod, and ruin my soul, if I obey that command, it is 
easy to see a greater force in tliis persuasion from the advantage 
of its ground. And if divines once begin "to curse Meroz," 
we shall see that Levi can use the sword as well as Simeon ; and 
although ministers do not handle, yet they can employ it. This 
shows the imprudence, as well as the danger of the civil magis- 
trate's exasperating those that can fire men's consciences against 
him, and arm his enemies with religion. For I have read here- 
tofore of some, that having conceived an irreconcilable hatred 
of the civil magistrate, prevailed with men so far, that they 
went to resist him even out of conscience, and a full persuasion 
and dread upon their spirits, that, not to do it, were to desert 
Ood, and consequently to incur damnation.* Now when men's 
rage is both heightened and sanctified by conscience, the war will 
be fierce ; for Avhat is done out of conscience, is done Avith the 
utmost activity. And then Campanella's speech to the king of 
Spain will be found true, Religio semper vicit, prcesertim armata : 
which sentence deserves seriously to be considered by all gover- 
nors, and timely to be understood, lest it comes to be felt. 

2. If the safety of government is founded upon the truth of 
religion, then this shows the danger of any thing that may make 
even the true religion suspected to be false. To be false, and to 
be thought false, is all one in respect of men, who act not accord- 
ing to truth, but apprehension ; as, on the contrary, a false re- 
ligion, while apprehended true, has the force and efficacy of 
truth. Now there is nothing more apt to induce men to a sus- 
picion of any religion, than frequent innovation and change : 
for since the object of religion, God ; the subject of it, the 
soul of man ; and the business of it, truth, is always one and 
the same ; variety and novelty is a just pi'esumption of falsity. 
It argues sickness and distemper in the mind, as well as in the 
body, when a man is continually turning and tossing from one 
side to the other. The wise Komans ever dreaded the least in- 
novation in religion : hence we find the advice of Mfecenas to 
Augustus Cajsar, in Dion Cassius, in the fifty-second book, where 
he counsels him to detest and persecute all innovators of divine 
worship, not only as contemners of the gods, but as the most 
pernicious disturbers of the state. For Avhen men venture to 
make changes in things sacred, it argues great boldness with God, 
and tliis naturally imports little belief of him ; which if the 
people once perceive, they will take their creed also, not from the 
magistrate's laws, but liis example. Hence in England, where 
religion has been still purifying, and hereupon almost always in 
the fire and the furnace ; atheists and irreligious persons have 

* See Serm. xii. 


taken no small advantage from our changes. For in king Edward 
the sixth's time, the divine worship was twice altered in two new 
liturgies. In the first of cj^ueen Mary, the protestant religion 
was persecuted with fire and fagot, by law and i)ublic counsel 
of the same persons, who had so lately established it. Upon 
the coming in of queen Elizabeth, religion was changed again, 
and within a few days the public council of the nation made it 
death for a priest to convert any man to that religion, which 
before with so much eagerness of zeal had been restored. So 
that is observed by an autlioi*, that in the space of twelve years, 
there were four changes about religion made in England, and 
that by the public council and authority of the realm; which 
were more than were made by any Christian state throughout 
the world, so soon one after another, in the space of fifteen hun- 
di'ed years before. Hence it is, that the enemies of God take 
occasion to blaspheme, and call our religion statism. And now 
adding to the former those many changes that have happened 
since, I am afraid we shall not so easily claw off that name ; nor, 
though we may satisfy our own consciences in what we profess, 
be able to repel and clear off the objections of the rational world 
about us, which not being interested in our changes as we are, 
will not judge of them as we judge ; but debate them by impar- 
tial reason, by the nature of the thing, the general practice of 
the church ; against which new lights, sudden impulses of the Spi- 
rit, extraordinary calls, will be but weak arguments to prove any 
thing but the madness of those that use them, and that the 
church must needs wither, being blasted with such inspirations. 
We see therefore how fatal and ridiculous innovations in the 
church are : and indeed when changes are so frequent, it is 
not properly religion, but fashion. This, I think, we may 
build upon as a sure ground, that where there is continual 
change, there is great show of uncertainty, and uncertainty in 
religion is a shrewd motive, if not to deny, yet to doubt of its 

Thus much for the first doctrine. I proceed now to the 
second, ^dz. 

II. That the next and most effectual loay to destroy religion, is 
to end)ase the teachers and dispensers of it. In the handling of 
this I shall show, 

1. How the dispensers of religion, the ministers of the word, 
are embased or rendered vile. 2. How the embasing or vilify- 
ing them is a means to destroy rehgion. 

1. For the first of these, the ministers and dispensers of the 
word are rendered base or vile two ways : 

(1.) By divesting them of all temporal pri%dleges and advan- 
tages, as inconsistent with their caUing. It is strange, since the 
priest's office heretofore was always splendid, and almost regal, 

64 DR. SOUTH's sermons. [sERM. IV. 

that it is now looked upon as a piece of religion, to make it low 
and sordid. So that the use of the word minister is brought down 
to the literal signification of it, a servant: for now to serve and 
to minister, servile, and ministerial, are terms equivalent. But in 
the Old Testament the same word signifies a priest, and a prince, 
or chief ruler: hence, though we translate it "priest of On," 
Gen. xli. 45, and "priest of Midian," Exod. iii. 1, and "as it is 
with the people, so with the priest," Isa. xxiv. 2, Junius and 
Tremellius render all these places, not by sacerdos, priest, but 
by prcBses, that is, a prince, or, at least, a chief counsellor, or 
minister of state. And it is strange, that the name shoidd be 
the same, when the nature of the thing is so exceeding dififerent. 
The like also may -be observed in other languages, that the most 
illustriovis titles are derived from things sacred, and belonging to 
the worship of God. SfjSacrroc was the title of the Christian 
Caesars, correspondent to the Latin Augustus ; and it is derived 
from the same word that o-f/Baa/^a, cultus, res sacra, or sacrijicium. 
And it is usual in our language to make sacred an epithet to 
majesty ; there was a certain royalty in things sacred. Hence 
the apostle, who, I think, was no enemy to the simplicity of the 
gospel, speaks of " a royal priesthood," 1 Pet. ii. 9, Avhich shows, 
at least, that there is no contradiction or impiety in those terms. 
In old time, before the placing this office only in the line of 
Aaron, the head of the family, and first-born offered sacrifice for 
the rest ; that is, was their priest. And we know, that such rule 
and dignity belonged at first to the masters of families, that they 
\\2Ajus vitcB et necis, jurisdiction and power of life and death in 
their own family ; and from hence was derived the beginning of 
kingly government, a king being only a civil head, or master of 
a politic family, the whole people ; so that we see the same was 
the foundation of the royal and sacerdotal dignity. As for the 
dignity of tliis ofiice among the Jews, it is so pregnantly set 
forth in holy writ, that it is unquestionable. Kings and priests 
are still mentioned together. Lam. ii. 6, " The Lord hath despised 
in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest ;" Hos. v. 
2, " Hear, O priests, and give ear, O house of the king;" Deut. 
xvii. 12, " And the man that doeth presumptuously, and will not 
hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before 
the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die." 
Hence Paul, together with a blow, received this reprehension. 
Acts xxiii. 4, " Revilest thou God's high-priest ?" And Paul in 
the next verse does not defend himself, by pleading an extraor- 
dinary motion of the Spirit, or that he was sent to reform the 
church, and might therefore lawfully vilify the priesthood and 
all sacred orders ; but in the fifth verse he makes an excuse, and 
that from ignorance, the only tiling that could take away the 
fault ; namely, " that he knew not that he was the high-jDriest," 
and subjoins a reason Avhich farther advances the truth here 


defended ; " for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the 
ruler of thy people." To holy writ we might add the testimony 
of Josephus, of next authority to it in things concerning the 
Jews, who in sundry places of his liistory sets forth the dignity 
of the priests ; and in his second book against Apion the gram- 
marian, has these words, irdvTMV twv a^^tcrSrjTou/ttvwv Sticao-rat 
oi hpdg lTaxOr}(Tav, the priests were constituted judges of all 
doubtful causes. Hence Justin also in his thirty-sixth book has 
this, Semper apud Jud<2os mos fuit, ut eosdem reges et sacerdotes 
haberent. Though this is false, that they were always so, yet it 
argues, that they were so frequently, and that the distance ';be- 
tAveen them was not great. To the Jews we may join the 
Egyptians, the first masters of learning and philosophy. Synesius, 
in his 57th epist., having shown the general practice of antiquity, 
6 iraXai \p6voQ vjvfy/cE Tovq avTOvg Upi^ag re kol Kpirag, gives an 
instance in the Jews and Egyptians, who for many ages viro tu)v 
hpi(jjv t(5a(Ti\tv0r](Tav, had no other kings but priests. Next, we 
may take a view of the practice of the Romans : Numa Pompi- 
lius, who civilized the fierce Romans, is reported in the first 
book of Livy sometimes to have performed the priest's office 
himself, Turn sacei^dotibus creandis animum adjecit, quanquam ipse 
plurima sacra ohibat ; but when he made priests, he gave them a 
dignity ahnost the same with himself. And this honour con- 
tinued together with the valour and prudence of that nation : for 
the success of the Romans did not extirpate their religion ; the 
college of the priests being in many things exempted even from 
the jurisdiction of the senate, afterwards the supreme power. 
Hence Juvenal, in his 2nd Sat., mentions the priesthood of Mars, 
as one of the most honourable places in Rome. And Jidius 
Cfesar, who was chosen priest in liis private condition, thought 
it not below liim to continue the same office when he was created 
absolute governor of Rome, under the name of perpetual dic- 
tator. Add to these the practice of the Gauls mentioned by 
Caesar, in his 6th book de Bello GaUico, where he says of the 
Druids, who were their priests, that they did judge de omnibus 
fere controversiis jmblicis privatisque. See also Homer in the first 
book of his Iliad, representing Chryses priest of Apollo, with 
his golden sceptre, as well as his golden censer. But why have 
I produced all these examples of the heathens ? Is it to make 
these a ground of our unitation ? No, but to show that the 
giving honour to the priesthood was a custom universal amongst 
all civilized nations. And whatsoever is universal is also natui'al, 
as not being founded upon compact, or the particular humours of 
men, but flowing from the native results of reason ; and that 
which is natural neither does nor can oppose rehgion. But you 
will say. This concerns not us, who have an express rule and 
word revealed. Christ was himself poor and despised, and 
withal has instituted such a ministry. To the first part of this 
VOL. I. F 

66 DR. SOUTh's sermons. [^SERM. IV. 

plea I answer, that Christ came to suffer, yet the sufferings and 
miseries of Christ do not oblige all Christians to undertake the 
like. For the second, that the ministry of Christ was low and 
despised by his institution, I uttei'ly deny. It was so, indeed, 
by the malice and persecution of the heathen princes ; but what 
does this argue or infer for a low, dejected ministry in a flou- 
rishing state, wliich professes to encourage Christianity ? But 
to dash this cavil, read but the practice of Christian emperors 
and kings all along, down from the time of Constantine, in what 
respect, what honour and splendour they treated the ministers ; 
and then let our adversaries produce their puny, pitiful argu- 
ments for the contrary, against the general, clear, undoubted 
vogue and current of all antiquity. As for two or three little 
countries about us, the learned and impartial will not value their 
practice ; in one of which places the minister has been seen, for 
mere want, to mend shoes on the Saturday, and been heard to 
preach on the Sunday. In the other place, stating the several 
orders of the citizens, they place their ministers after their 
apothecaries ; that is, the physician of the soul after the drugster of 
the body ; a fit practice for those, who, if they were to rank tilings 
as well as persons, would place their religion after their trade. 

And thus much concerning the first way of debasing the 
ministers and ministry. 

(2.) The second way is by admitting ignorant, sordid, illiterate 
persons to this function. This is to give the royal stamp to a 
piece of lead. I confess, God has no need of any man's parts or 
learning; but certainly then, he has much less need of his ignorance 
and ill behaviour. It is a sad thing, when all other employments 
shall empty themselves into the ministry : when men shall repair 
to it, not tor preferment, but refuge ; like malefactors flying to 
the altar, only to save their lives ; or like those of Eli's race 
(1 Sam. ii. 36), that should come crouching, and seek to be put 
into the priest's office, that they might eat a piece of bread. Here- 
tofore there was required splendour of parentage to recommend 
any one to the priesthood ; as Josephus witnesses in a treatise 
which he wrote of his own life ; where he says, to have right to 
deal in things sacred, was, amongst them, accounted an argument 
of a noble and illustrious descent. God Avould not accept the 
offals of other professions. Doubtless many rejected Christ upon 
this thought, that he was the carpenter's son, who would have 
embraced him, had they known him to have been the Son of 
David. The preferring undeserving persons to this great service, 
was eminently Jeroboam's sin ; and how Jeroboam's practice and 
offence has been continued amongst us in another guise, is not 
unknown ; for has not learning unqualified men for approbation 
to the ministry ? Have not parts and abilities been reputed 
enemies to grace, and qualities noways ministerial? While 
friends, faction, well-meaning, and little understanding have been 


accompHsliinents beyond study and the university ; and to falsify 
a story of conversion, beyond pertinent answers and clear re- 
solutions to the hardest and most concerning questions. So that 
matters liaA-e been brought to this pass, that if a man amongst 
his sons had any blind, or disfigured, he laid him aside for the 
ministry ; and such a one was presently approved, as having a 
mortified countenance. In short, it was a fiery furnace, which often 
approved dross, and rejected gold. But thanks be to God, those 
"spiritual w^ickednesses" are now discharged from their "high 
places." Hence it was, that many rushed into the ministry, as 
being the only calling that they could profess without serving an 
apprenticeship. Hence also we had those that could preach 
sermons, but not defend them. The reason of Avhich is clear, 
because the works and writings of learned men might be lior- 
rowed, but not the abilities. Had indeed the old Levitical hiei- 
archy still continued, in which it was part of the ministerial office 
to flay the sacrifices, to cleanse the vessels, to scour the flesh- 
forks, to sweep the temple, and carry the filth and rubbish to the 
brook Kidron, no persons living had been fitter for the ministry, 
and to serve in this nature at the altar. But since it is made a 
labour of the mind ; as to inform men's judgments, and move 
their affections, to resolve difficult places of scripture, to decide 
and clear off controversies ; I cannot see how to be a butcher, 
scavenger, or any other such trade, does at all c[ualify or prepare 
men for this work. But as unfit as they were, yet to clear a way 
for such into the ministry, we have had almost all sennons full 
of gibes and scoffs at human learning. Aw^ay with "vain philo- 
sophy, with the disputer of this world, and the enticing words of 
man's wisdom," and set up the " foolishness of preaching, the 
simplicity of the gospel." Thus divinity has been brought in 
upon the ruins of humanity, by forcing the words of the scrip- 
ture from the sense, and then haling them to the worst of 
drudgeries, to set a jm5 divinum upon ignorance and imperfection, 
and recommend natural weakness for supernatural grace. Here- 
upon the ignorant have taken heart to venture upon this great 
calling, and instead of cutting their way to it, according to the 
usual course, through the knowledge of the tongues, the study of 
philosophy, school divinity, the fathers and councils, they have 
taken another and shorter cut, and having read perhaps a treatise 
or two upon The Heart, The Bruised Beed, The Crumbs of 
Comfort, Wollebius in English, and some other little authors, 
the usual furniture of old women's closets, they have set forth as 
accomplished divines, and forthwith they present themselves to 
the service ; and there have not been wanting Jeroboams as 
willing to consecrate and receive them, as they to offer themselves. 
And this has been one of the most fatal, and almost irrecoverable 
blows that has been given to the ministry. 

And this inay suffice concerning the second way of embasing 

F 2 


God's ministers ; namely, by entrusting the ministry with raw, 
unlearned, ill-bred persons : so that what Solomon speaks of a 
proverb in the mouth of a fool, the same may be said of the 
ministry vested in them, that it is like a "pearl in a swine's 

2. I proceed now to the second thing proposed in the discus- 
sion of this doctrine, which is to show how the embasing of the 
ministers tends to the destruction of religion. This is two 

(1.) Because it brings them under exceeding scorn and con- 
tempt ; and then, let none think religion itself secure ; for the 
vulgar have not such logical heads, as to be able to abstract such 
subtile conceptions as to separate the man from the minister, or 
to consider the same j)erson under a double capacity, and so 
honour him as a divine, while they despise him as poor. But 
suppose they could, yet actions cannot distinguish as conceptions 
do ; and therefore every act of contempt strikes at both, and un- 
avoidably wounds the ministry through the sides of the minister. 
And we must know, that the least degree of contempt weakens 
religion, because it is absolutely contrary to the nature of it, re- 
ligion properly consisting in a I'everential esteem of tilings sacred. 
Now, that Avhich in any measure weakens religion, will at length 
destroy it; for the weakening of a thing is only a partial 
destruction of it. Poverty and meanness of condition expose 
the wisest to scorn, it being natural for men to place their 
esteem rather upon things great than good; and the jjoet ob- 
serves, that this infelix jmupertas has nothing in it more intolera- 
ble than this, that it renders men ridiculous ; and then, how easy 
and natural it is for contempt to pass from the person to the 
office, from him that speaks, to the thing that he speaks of, ex- 
perience proves ; counsel being seldom valued so much for the 
truth of the thing, as the credit of him that gives it. Observe 
an excellent passage to this purpose in Eccles. ix. 14, 15. We 
have an account of a little city, with few men in it, besieged by a 
great and potent king ; and in the 15th verse we read, that 
" there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom 
delivered the city." A worthy service indeed, and certainly we 
may expect that some honourable recompence should follow it ; 
a deliverer of his country, and that in such distress, could not 
but be advanced. But we find a contrary event in the next 
words of the same verse, " yet none remembered that same poor 
man." TVHiy, what should be the reason ? Was he not a man 
of parts and wisdom ? And is not wisdom honourable ? Yes, 
but " he Avas poor." But was he not also successful, as Avell as 
wise ? True ; but still " he was poor ;" and once grant this, and 
you cannot keep off that unavoidable sequel in the next verse, 
" The poor man's wisdom ^s despised, and his words are not 
heard." We may believe it upon Solomon's word, who was rich 


as well as wise, and therefore knew the force of both ; and pro- 
bably, had it not been for his riches, the queen of Sheba would 
not have come so far only to have heard his wisdom. Observe 
her behaviour when she came: though upon the hearing of 
Solomon's wisdom, and the resolution of her hard questions, she 
expressed a just admiration; yet when Solomon afterwards 
showed her liis palace, his treasures, and the temple which he 
had built, 1 Kings x. 5, it is said, " there was no more spirit in 
her," What was the cause of this ? Certainly, the magnificence, 
the pomp and splendour of such a structure. It struck her into 
an ecstasy beyond his wise answers. She esteemed this as much 
above his wisdom, as astonishment is above bare admiration ; 
she admired his w^isdom, but she adored his magnificence. So 
apt is the mind, even of wise persons, to be surprised Avith the 
superficies or circumstances of tilings, and value or undervalue 
spirituals, according to the manner of their external appearance. 
When circumstances fail, the substance seldom long survives; 
clothes are no part of the body, yet take aAvay clothes, and the 
body will die. Livy observes of Komulus, that being to give 
laws to his new Romans, he found no better way to procure an 
esteem and reverence to them, than by first procuring it to liim- 
self by splendour of habit and retinue, and other signs of royalty. 
And the Avise Numa, his successor, took the same course to en- 
force his religious laws, namely, by giving the same pomp to the 
priest, who was to dispense them; Sacerdotem creavit, insignique 
eum veste, et curuU regid sella adornavit ; that is, he adorned 
him with a rich robe, and a royal chair of state. And in our 
judicatures, take away the trumpet, the scarlet, the attendance, 
and the lordshij), which would be to make justice naked, as well 
as blind, and the law would lose much of its terror, and conse- 
quently of its authority. Let the minister be abject and low, 
his interest inconsiderable, the word will suffer for his sake ; the 
message will still find reception according to the dignity of the 
messenger. Imagine an ambassador presenting himself in a poor 
frieze jerkin and tattered clothes, certainly he would have but 
small audience ; his embassy would speed rather according to the 
weakness of liim that brought, than the majesty of him that sent 
it. It will fare alike with the ambassadors of Christ ; the people 
will give them audience according to their presence ; a notable 
example of which we have in the behaviour of some to Paul 
himself, 1 Cor. x. 10. Hence in the Jewish church it was cau- 
tiously provided in the law, that none that was blind or lame, or 
had any remarkable defect in liis body, was capable of the 
priestly office ; because these things naturaUy make a person 
contemned, and this presently reflects upon the function. This 
therefore is the first way by which the low, despised condition of 
the ministers tends to the destruction of the ministry and reli- 
gion ; namely, because it subjects their persons to scorn, and 

70 DR. south's sermons. Qserm. IV. 

consequently their calling; and it is not imaginable that men 
will be brought to obey what they cannot esteem. 

(2.) The second way by w^hich it tends to the ruin of the 
ministry, is, because it discom'ages men of fit parts and abilities 
from undertaking it. And certain it is, that as the calling 
dignifies the man, so the man much more advances his calling ; 
as a garment, though it warms the body, has a retiu-n with an 
advantage, being much more warmed by it. And how often 
a good cause may miscarry without a wise manager; and the 
faith for want of a defender, is, or at least, may be known. It 
is not the truth of an assertion, but the skill of the disputant, 
that keeps off a baffle ; not the justness of a cause, but the valour 
of the soldiers, that must win the field. Wlien a learned Paul was 
converted, and undertook the ministry, it stopjoed the mouths of 
those that said, None but poor weak fishermen preached Chris- 
tianity ; and so his leaiTiing silenced the scandal, as well as strength- 
ened the church. Religion, placed in a soul of exquisite knowledge 
and abilities, as in a castle, finds not only habitation, but defence. 
And what a learned foreign divine* said of the English preaching, 
may be said of all. Plus est in artifice quam in arte. So much of 
moment is there in the pi'ofessoi's of any thing to depress or raise 
the profession. What is it that kept the church of Kome strong, 
athletic, and flomishing for so many centuries, but the happy 
succession of the choicest wits engaged to her service by suitable 
preferments ? And what strength, do we think, would that give 
to the true religion, that is able thus to estabhsh a false ? Reli- 
gion, in a great measure, stands or falls according to the abilities 
of those that assert it. And if, as some observe, men's desires 
are usually as large. as their abilities, what course have we taken 
to allure the former, that we might engage the latter to our 
assistance ? But we have taken all ways to affright and discourage 
scholars from looldng towards this sacred calling ; for will men 
lay out their w it and judgment upon that employment, for the 
undertaking of which both will be questioned ? Would men, not 
long since, have spent toilsome days and watchful nights, in the 
laborious quest of knowledge preparative to this w^ork, at length 
to come and dance attendance for approbation upon a junto of 
petty tyrants, acted by party and prejudice, who denied fitness 
from learning, and grace from morality? Will a man exhaust 
his Uvelihood upon books, and his health, the best part of his life, 
upon study, to be at length thrust into a poor village, where he 
shall have his due precariously, and entreat for his own ; and 
when he has it, Hve poorly and contemptibly upon it, while the 
same or less labour bestow^ed upon any other calling, would 
bring not only comfort, but splendour; not only maintenance, 
but abundance ? It is, I confess, the duty of ministers to endure 
this condition ; but neither religion or reason does oblige either 

* Caspar Streso. 


them to approve, or others to choose it. Doubtless, parents will 
not throw away the towardness of a child, and the expense of 
education, upon a profession, the labour of w'liich is increased, 
and the rewards of wdiich are vanished. To condemn promising, 
lively parts to contempt and penury in a despised calling, what is 
it else but the casting of a Moses into the mud, or offering a son 
upon the altar, and instead of a priest to make him a sacrifice ? 
JSeither let any here reply, that it becomes not a ministerial 
spirit to imdertake such a calling for reward: for they must 
know, that it is one thing to undertake it for a rcAvard, and not 
to be willing to undertake it without one. It is one thing to per- 
form good works only that we may receive the recompence of 
them in heaven, and another thing not to be willing to follow 
Christ and forsake the w^orld, if there were no such recompence. 
But besides, suppose it were the duty of scholars to choose this 
calling in the midst of all its discouragements ; yet a prudent 
governor, who knows it to be his wisdom as well as his duty to 
take the best course to advance religion, will not consider men's 
duty, but their practice ; not what they ought to do, but what 
they use to do, and therefore draw over the best qualified to his 
service, by such Avays as are most apt to persuade and induce 
men. Solomon built his temijle with the tallest cedars; and 
surely when God refused the defective and the maimed for sacrifice, 
we cannot think that he requires them for the priesthood. When 
learning, abilities, and w^hat is excellent in the world, forsake the 
church, we may easily foretell its ruin, without the gift of pro- 
phecy. And w^hen ignorance succeeds in the place of learning, 
weakness in the room of judgment, we may be sure heresy and 
confusion will quickly come in the room of religion ; for undoubt- 
edly there is no w^ay so effectual to betray the truth, as to pro- 
cure it a weak defender. 

Well now, instead of making any particular uses from the 
point that has been dehvered, let us make a brief recapitulation 
of the whole. Government, we see, depends upon religion, and 
rehgion upon the encouragement of those that are to dispense 
and assert it. For the further evidence of which truths we need 
not tra-v cl beyond our own borders ; but leave it to every one 
impartially to judge, whether, from the very first day that our 
religion was unsettled, and church government flung out of doors, 
the civil government has ever been able to fix upon a sure foun- 
dation. We have been changing even to a proverb. The indig- 
nation of heaven has been rollmg and turning us from one form 
to another, till at length such a giddiness seized upon the govern- 
ment, that it fell into the very dregs of sectaries, who threatened 
an equal ruin both to minister and magistrate; and hoAV the 
state has sympathized with the church, is apparent : for have not 
our princes as w^ell as our priests been of the lowest of the 
}ieople ? Have not cobblers, draymen, mechanics, governed as 


well as preached? Nay, have not they by preaching come to 
govern ? Was ever that of Solomon more verified, " that ser- 
vants have rid, while princes and nobles have gone on foot ?" 
But God has been pleased, by a miracle of mercy, to dissipate 
this confusion and chaos, and to give us some openings, some 
dawnings of liberty and settlement. But now, let not those who 
are to rebuild our Jerusalem, think that the temple must be built 
last ; for if there be such a thing as a God and religion, as 
whether men believe it or no, they will one day find and feel, 
assuredly he will stop our liberty, till we restore him his wor- 
ship. Besides, it is a senseless thing in reason, to think that one 
of these interests can stand without the other, when, in the very 
order of natural causes, government is preserved by religion. 
But to return to Jeroboam, with whom we first began. He laid 
the foundation of his government in destroying, though doubtless 
he coloured it with the name of reforming God's worship ; but 
see the issue. Consider him cursed by God, maintaining his 
usm'ped title by continual vexatious wars against the kings of 
Judah ; smitten in his posterity, wliich was made like the dung 
upon the face of the earth, as low and vile as those priests whom 
he had employed ; consider him branded, and made odious to all 
after ages ; and now, when his kingdom and glory was at an end, 
and he and liis posterity rotting under ground, and his name 
stinking above it ; judge what a worthy prize he made in getting 
of a kingdom, by destroying the church. Wherefore the smn of 
all is this; to advise and desire those whom it may concern, 
to consider Jeroboam's punishment, and then they will have 
little heart to Jeroboam's sin. 


Preached at Lambeth Chapel, on November 25, 1666, upon the Consecration of the 
Eight Rev. Father in God Dr. John Dolben, Lord Bishop of Rochester. 






My Lord, 
Though the interposal of my lord of Canterbury's command for the 
publication of this mean discourse, may seem so far to determine, as 
even to take away my choice ; yet I must own it to the world, that it is 
solely and entirely my own inclination, seconded by my obligations to 
your lordship, that makes this, that was so lately an humble attendant 
upon your lordship's consecration, now ambitious to consecrate itself 
with your lordship's name. It was my honour to have lived in the same 
college with your lordship, and now to belong to the same cathedral, 
where at present you credit the church as much by your government, as 
you did the school formerly by your wit. Your lordship even then grew 
up into a constant superiority above others; and all your after greatness 
seems but a paraphrase upon those promising beginnings : for whatso- 
ever you are, or shall be, has been but an easy prognostic from what 
you were. It is your lordship's unhappiness to be cast upon an age in 
Avhich the Church is in its wane ; and if you do not those glorious things 
that our English prelates did two or three hundred years since, it is not 
because your lordship is at all less than they, but because the times are 


worse. Witness those magnificent buildings in Christ Ciiurch in Ox- 
ford, begun and carried on by your lordship, when by your place you 
governed, and by your wisdom increased the treasure of that college : 
and which must eternally set your fame above the reach of envy and 
detraction, these great structures you attempted, at a time when you re- 
turned poor and bare, to a college as bare, after a long persecution, and 
before you had laid so much as one stone in the repairs of your own for- 
tunes : by which incomparably high and generous undertaking, you have 
shown the world how fit a person you were to build upon Wolsey's founda- 
tion ; a prelate whose great designs you imitate, and whose mind you equal. 
Briefly, that Christ Church stands so high above ground, and that the 
church of Westminster lies not flat upon it, is your lordship's commen- 
dation. And therefore your lordship is not behindhand with the church, 
paying it as much credit and support as you receive from it; for you 
owe your promotion to your merit, and, I am sure, your merit to your- 
self. All men court you, not so much because a great person, as a pub- 
lic good. For, as a friend, there is none so hearty, so nobly warm and 
active to make good all the offices of that endearing relation : as a patron, 
none more able to oblige and reward your dependents, and, which is 
the crowning ornament of power, none more willing. And lastly, as a 
diocesan, you are like even to outdo yourself in all other capacities, 
and, in a word, to exemplify and realize every word of the following 
discourse; which is here most humbly and gratefully presented to your 
lordship by 

Your Lordship's most obliged servant, 

Robert South. 
From St. James's, Dec. 3, 1666. 



TITUS II. ult. 

These things speak and exhort, and rebuke luith all authority/. Let 

no man despise thee. 

It may possibly be expected, that the veiy taking of my text 
out of tliis epistle to Titus, may engage me in a discourse about 
the nature, original, and divine right of Episcopacy ; and if it 
should, it Avere no more than what some of the greatest and the 
learnedest persons in the world (Avhen men served truth instead 
of design) had done before : for I must profess, that I cannot 
look upon Titus as so far unbishoped yet, but that he still exhibits 
to us all the essentials of that jurisdiction, Avhich to this day is 
claimed for episcopal. "We are told in the fifth verse of the 
first chapter, " that he was left in Crete to set things in order, 
and to ordain elders in every city ;" which text, one w^ould think, 
were sufiiciently clear and lull, and too big with evidence to be 
perverted : but when we have seen rebellion commented out of 
the thirteenth of the Romans, and since there are few things but 
admit of gloss and probability, and consequently may be ex- 
pounded as well as disputed on both sides ; it is no such wonder, 
that some would bear the world in hand, that the apostle's de- 
sign and meaning is for presbytery, though his words are all the 
time for episcopacy : no wonder, I say, to us at least, who have 
conversed with too many strange unparalleled actions, occurrences, 
and events, now to wonder at any thing : wonder is from sur- 
prise ; and surprise ceases upon experience. 

I am not so much a friend to the stale starched formality of 
preambles, as to detain so great an audience with any previous: 
discourse, extrinsic to the subject matter and design of the 
text ; and therefore I shall fall directly upon the words, Avliich 
run in the form of an exhortation, though in appearance a very 
strange one ; for the matter of an exhortation should be some- 
tliing naturally in the poAver of liim to Avhom the exhortation is 
directed : for no man exhorts another to be strong, beautiful, 
Avitty, or the like; these are the fehcities of some conditions, 
the object of more Avishes, but the efi'ects of no man's choice. 
Nor seems there any greater reason for the apostle's exhorting 


Titus, " that no man should despise him ;" for how could another 
man's action be his duty? Was it in his power that men should 
not be wicked and injurious? And if such persons would de- 
spise him, could any thing pass an obligation upon him not to 
be despised ? No, this cannot be the meaning ; and therefore it 
is clear, that the exhortation lies not against the action itself, 
which is only in the despiser's power, but against the just occa- 
sion of it, which is in the will and power of him that is desi^ised. 
It was not in Titus's power that men should not despise him, but 
it was in his power to bereave them of all just cause of doing so; 
it was not in liis j)ower not to be derided, but it was in his jDower 
not to be ridiculous. 

In all this epistle it is evident that St. Paul looks upon Titus 
as advanced to the dignity of a prime ruler of the church, and 
intrusted with a large diocese, containing many particular 
churches under the immediate government of their respective 
elders ; and those deri\dng authointy from his ordination, as was 
specified in the fifth verse of the first chapter. And now look- 
ing upon Titus under this qualification, he addresses a long ad- 
vice and instruction to him, for the discharge of so important a 
function, all along the first and second chapters ; but sums up all 
in the last verse, wliich is the subject of the ensuing discourse, 
and contains in it these two things : 

I. An account of the duties of his place or oflfice. 

II. Of the means to facilitate and make effectual their exe- 

I. The duties of his place were two. 1. To teach. 2. To 
rule. Both comprised in these words ; " These things speak and 
exhort, and rebuke with all authority." 

And then the means, the only means to make him successful, 
bright, and victorious in the performance of these great works, 
was to be above contempt, to shine, like the Baptist, with a clear 
and a triumphant light. In a word, it is every bishop's duty to 
t?ach and to govern; and his way to do it, is, "not to be de- 

We will discourse of each respectively in their order. 

1. And first, for the first branch of the great work incumbent 
upon a church rulei', which is to teach : a work that none is too 
great or too high for. It is a work of charity, and charity is 
the work of heaven, which is always laying itself out upon the 
needy and the impotent : nay, and it is a work of the highest 
and the noblest charity ; for he that teacheth another, gives an 
alms to liis soul : he clothes the nakedness of his understanding, 
and relieves the wants of his impoverished reason. He indeed 
that governs well, leads the blind ; but he that teaches, gives him 
eyes ; and it is a glorious thing to have been the repairer of a 
decayed intellect, and a subworker to grace, in freeing it from 


some of the inconveniencies of original sin. It is a benefaction 
that gives a man a kind of prerogative ; for even in the common 
dialect of the world every teacher is called a master. It is the 
property of instruction to descend, and upon that very account it 
supposes him that instructs, the superior, or at least makes him so. 

To say a man is advanced too high to condescend to teach the 
ignorant, is as much as to say that the sun is in too high a place 
to shine upon what is below it. The sun is said " to rule the 
day," and " the moon to rule the night ;" but do they not rule 
them only by enlightening them ? Doctrine is that which must 
prepare men for discipline ; and men never go on so cheerfully, 
as when they see where they go. 

Nor is the dulness of the scholar to extinguish, but rather to 
inflame the charity of the teacher. For since it is not in men as 
in vessels, that the smallest capacity is the soonest filled ; where 
the labour is doubled, the value of the work is enhanced ; for it 
is a sowing where a man never expects to reap any thing but 
the comfort and conscience of having done virtuously. And yet 
we know, moreover, that God sometimes converts even the dull 
and the slow, turning " very stones into sons of Abraham ;" 
where, besides that the difficulty of the conquest advances the 
trophy of the conqueror, it often falls out, that the backward 
learner makes amends another way, recompensing sure for sudden, 
expiating his want of docility with a deeper and a more rooted 
retention ; which alone were argument sufficient to enforce the 
apostle's injunction of being "instant in season and out of sea- 
son," even upon the highest and most exalted ruler in the church. 
He that sits in Moses' chair, sits there to instruct, as well as to 
rule : and a general's office engages him to lead, as well as to 
command his army. In the first of Ecclesiastes, Solomon repre- 
sents himself both as " preacher" and " king of Israel :" and 
every soul that a bishop gains is a new accession to the extent 
of his power ; he preaches his jurisdiction wider, and enlarges his 
spiritual diocese, as he enlarges men's apprehensions. 

The teaching part indeed of a Romish bishop is easy enough, 
Avhose grand business is only to teach men to be ignorant, to in- 
struct them how to know nothing, or, which is all one, to know 
upon trust, to believe implicitly ; and, in a word, to see with 
other men's eyes, till they come to be lost in their own souls. 
But our religion is a religion that dares to be understood, that 
offers itself to the search of the inquisitive, to the inspection of 
the severest and the most awakened reason : for being secure of 
her substantial truth and purity, she knows, that for her to be 
seen and looked into, is to be embraced and admired. As there 
needs no greater argument for men to love the light than to see 
it, it needs no legends, no service in an unknown tongue, no in- 
quisition against scripture, no purging out the heart and sense 
of authors, no altering or bribing the voice of antiquity to speak 



for it ; it needs none of all these laborious artifices of ignorance ; 
none of all these cloaks and coverings. The Komish faith indeed 
must be covered, or it cannot be kept warm : and their clergy 
deal with their rehgion, as with a great crime ; if it is discovered, 
they are luidone. But there is no bishop of the church of 
England but accounts it his interest, as well as his duty, to com- 
ply with this precept of the apostle Paul to Titus, " These things 
teach and exhort." 

Now this teaching may be effected two Avays : 

(1.) Immediately by liimself. (2.) Mediately by others. 

And first, immediately by himself. Where God gives a talent, 
the episcopal robe can be no napkin to hide it in. Change of 
condition changes not the abilities of nature, but makes them 
more illustrious in their exercise ; and the episcopal dignity, 
added to a good preacliing faculty, is like the erecting of a sta,tely 
fountain upon a spring, which still, for all that, remains as much 
a spring as it was before, and flows as plentifully, only it flows 
with the circmnstance of greater state and magnificence. Height 
of i^lace is intended only to stamp the endowments of a private 
condition with lustre and authority : and thanks be to God, 
neither the church's professed enemies, nor her pretended friends, 
have any cause to asperse her in this respect, as having over her 
such bishops as are able to silence the factious no less by their 
preaching than by their authority. 

But then, on the other hand, let me add also, that this is not 
so absolutely necessary as to be of the vital constitution of this 
function. He may teach his diocese, who ceases to be able to 
preach to it ; for he may do it by appointing teachers, and by a 
vigilant exacting; from them the care and the instruction of their 
respective flocks. He is the spiritual father of his diocese ; and 
a father may see his children taught, though he himself does not 
turn schoolmaster. It is not the gift of every person, nor of 
every age, to harangue the multitude, to voice it high and loud, 
et dominari in concionihus. And since experience fits for goA^ern- 
ment, and age usually brings experience, perhaps the most govern- 
ing years are the least preacliing years. 

(2.) In the second place therefore, there is a teaching mediately, 
by the subordinate ministration of others ; in which, since the 
action of the instrumental agent is, upon all grounds of reason, 
to be ascribed to the principal, he, who ordains and furnishes all 
his churches with able preachers, is a universal teacher ; he in- 
structs where he cannot be present ; he speaks in every mouth of 
his diocese, and every congregation of it every Sunday feels his 
influence, though it hears not his voice. That master deprives 
not his family of their food, who orders a faitliful steward to dis- 
pense it. Teaching is not a flow of words, nor the draining of 
an hour-glass, but an effectual procuring, that a man comes to 
know something which he knew not before, or to know it better : 


and therefore eloquence and ability of speech is to a church 
governor, as TuUy said it was to a philosopher, Si afferafur, non 
rejjudianda ; si absit, non magnopere desideranda : and to find fault 
with such a one for not being a popular speaker, is to blame a 
painter for not being a good musician. 

To teach indeed must be confessed to be his duty ; but then 
there is a teaching by example, by atithority, by restraining se- 
ducers, and so removing the hinderances of knowledge: and a 
bishop does liis chvirch, liis prince and country, more service by 
ruling other men's tongues, than he can by employing his own. 
And thus much for the first branch of the great work belonging 
to a pastor of a church, which was to teach and to exhort. 

2. The second is to rule, expressed in these words, " Rebuke 
with all authority." By which I doubt not but the apostle prin- 
cipally intends church censures ; and so the words are a metony- 
my of the part for the whole, giving an instance in ecclesiastical 
censures, instead of all other ecclesiastical jurisdiction : a juris- 
diction, which, in the essentials of it, is as old as Christianity ; 
and even in those circumstantial additions of secular encourage- 
ment, with which the piety and wisdom of Christian princes 
always thought necessary to support it against the encroachments 
of the injurious world, much older and more venerable than any 
constitution that has divested the church of it. 

But to speak directly to the thing before us : we see here the 
great apostle employing the utmost of his authority in command- 
ing Titus to use his. And what he said to him, he says to every 
Christian bishop after him, " Kebuke with all authority." This 
authority is a spiritual sword put into the hands of every church 
ruler ; and God put not this sword into his hands with an intent 
that he should keep it there for no other purpose, but only for 
fashion's sake, as men use to wear one by their sides. Govern- 
ment is an art above the attainment of an ordinary genius, and 
requires a wider, a larger, and a more comprehending soul than 
God has put into every body. The spirit which animates and 
acts the universe, is a spirit of govei'iiment ; and that ruler that 
is possessed of it, is the substitute and vicegerent of Providence, 
whether in church or state ; every bishop is God's curate. Now 
the nature of government contains in it these three parts : 

(1.) An exaction of duty from the persons placed under it. 
(2.) A protection of them in the performance of their duty. 
(3.) Coercion and animadversion upon such as neglect it. All 
which are, in their proportion, ingredients of that government 
which we call Ecclesiastical. 

(1.) And first, it implies exaction of duty from the persons 
placed under it : for it is both to be confessed and lamented, 
that men are not so ready to oifer it, where it is not exacted : 
otherwise, what means the service of the church so imperfectly 
and by halves read over, and that by many who profess a con- 

80 DR. south's sermons. [[serm. V, 

formity to the rules of the church ? What makes them mince 
and mangle that in their practice, which they could swallow 
whole in their subscriptions ? Wliy are the public prayers cur- 
tailed and left out, prayers composed with sobriety, and enjoined 
with authority, only to make the more room for a long, crude, 
impertinent, upstart harangue before the sermon ? 

Such persons seem to conform (the signification, of which 
word they never make good) only that they may despise the 
church's injunctions under the church's wing, and contemn autho- 
rity within the protection of the laws. Duty is but another 
English word for debt ; and God knows, that it is well if men 
pay their debts when they are called upon. But if governors 
do not remind men of, and call them to obedience, they will find 
that it will never come as a free-will offering, no not from many 
who even serve at the altar. 

(2.) Government imports a protection and encoui'agement of 
the persons under it, in the discharge of their duty. It is not 
for a magistrate to frown upon and browbeat those who are 
hearty and exact in the management of their ministry ; and Avith 
a grave, significant nod, to call a well regulated and resolved 
zeal, want of prudence and moderation. Such discouraging of 
men in the ways of an active conformity to the church's rules, 
is that which will crack the sinews of government ; for it 
weakens the hands and damps the spirits of the obedient : and 
if only scorn and rebuke shall attend men for asserting the 
church's dignity, and taxing the murder of kings, and the like ; 
many will choose rather to neglect their duty safely and credita- 
bly, than to get a broken pate in the church's service, only to be 
rewarded with that wliich shall break their hearts too. 

(3.) The third thing implied in government, is coercion and 
animadversion upon such as neglect their duty : without which 
coercive power, all government is but toothless and precarious, 
and does not so much command as beg obedience. Nothing, I 
confess, is more becoming a Christian, of Avhat degree soever, 
than meekness, candour, and condescension ; but they are virtues 
that have their proper sphere and season to act and show them- 
selves in, and consequently not to interfere with others, different 
indeed in their nature, but altogether as necessary in their use. 
And when an insolent despiser of discipline, nurtured into im- 
pudence and contempt of all order, by a long risk of license and 
rebellion, shall appear before a church governor, severity and re- 
solution are that governor's virtues, and justice itself is his mercy; 
for by making such a one an example (as much as in liim lies) he 
will either cure liim, or at least, preserve others. 

Were indeed the consciences of men as they should be, the 
censures of the church might be a sufficient coercion upon them ; 
but being, as most of them iiow-a-days are, hell and damnation 
proof, her bare anathemas fall but like so many hruta fidmina 


upon the obstinate and scliismatical ; who are like to think them- 
selves shrewdly hurt, forsooth, by being cut off from that body, 
which they choose not to be of; and so being punished into a 
quiet enjoyment of their beloved separation. Some will by no' 
means allow the church any further power than only to exliort 
and to advise, and this but with a proviso too, that it extends not 
to such as think themselves too wise and too great to be advised ; 
according to the hypothesis of which persons, the authority of 
the church, and the obhging force of all church sanctions, can 
bespeak men only thus : ' These and these things it is your duty 
to do, and if you will not do them, you may as well let them 
alone.' A strict and efficacious constitution indeed, which invests 
the church with no power at all, but where men will be so very 
civil as to obey it, and so at the same time pay it a duty, and do 
it a courtesy too. 

But when, in the judgment of some men, the spiritual function, 
as such, must render a churclunan, though otherwise never so 
discreet and qualified, yet merely because he is a churchman, 
unfit to be intrusted by his prince with a share of that power 
and jurisdiction, wliich in many circumstances his prince has 
judged but too necessary to secure the affairs and dignity of the 
church ; and which every thriving grazier can think himself but 
ill dealt with, if within his own country he is not mounted to ; 
it is a sign, that such discontented persons intend not that religion 
shall advise them upon any other terms, than that they may ride 
and govern their religion. 

But surely all our kings and our parliaments understood well 
enough what they did, when they thought fit to prop and fortify 
the spiritual order with some power that was temporal; and such 
is the present state of the world, in the judgment of any observ- 
ing eye, that if the bishop has no other defensatives but excom- 
munication, no other power but that of the keys, he may, 
for any notable effect that he is Hke to do upon the factious and 
contumacious, surrender up his pastoral staff, shut up the church, 
and put those keys under the door. 

Aid thus I have endeavoured to show the three things in- 
cluded in the general nature of government ; but to prescribe 
the manner of it in particular, is neither in my power nor incli- 
nation : only I suppose the common theory and speculation of 
things is free and open to any one whom Grod has sent into the 
world with some abiHty to contemplate, and by continuing him 
in the world, gives him also opportunity. In all that has been 
said, I do not in the least pretend to advise or chalk out rules to 
my superiors ; for some men cannot be fools with so good accej^t- 
ance as others. But whosoever is called to speak upon a certain 
occasion, may, I conceive, without offence, take any text suitable 
to that occasion, and having taken it may, or at least ought, to 
speak suitably to that text. 

VOL. I. G 


II. I proceed now to the second tiling proposed from the 
words ; which is the means assigned for the discharge of the duties 
mentioned, and exliibited under this one short prescription, " Let 
no man despise thee." In the handhng of wliich I shall show, 

1. The ill effects and destructive influence that contempt has 
upon government. 2. The groundless causes upon which church 
rulers are frequently despised. 3. And lastly, the just causes 
that would render them, or indeed any other rulers, worthy to 
be despised. All which being clearly made out, and impartially . 
laid before our eyes, it will be easy and obvious for every one, 
by avoiding the evil so marked out, to answer and come up to 
the apostle's exhortation. And, 

1. We will discourse of contempt, and the malign hostile in- 
fluence it has upon government. As for the tiring itself, every 
man's experience will inform him, that there is no action in the 
behaviour of one man towards another, of which human nature 
is more impatient than of contempt, it being a tiling made up of 
those two ingredients, an undervaluing of a mt^n upon a belief 
of his utter uselessness and inability, and a spiteful endeavour to 
engage the rest of the world in the same belief and slight esteem 
of him. So that the immediate design of contempt, is the shame 
of the person contemned; and shame is a banishment of liim 
from the good opinion of the world, which every man most 
earnestly desires, both upon a principle of nature and of interest : 
for it is natural to all men to affect a o-ood name ; and he that 
despises a man, libels him in his thoughts, reviles and traduces 
him in his judgment. And there is also interest in the case ; for 
a desire to be well thought of, directly resolves itself into that 
owned and mighty principle of self-preservation : forasmuch as 
thouixhts are the first wheels and motives of action, and there is 
no long passage from one to the other. He that thinks a man 
to the ground, will quickly endeavour to lay him there ; for 
while he despises him, he arraigns and condemns him in liis heart ; 
and the after bitterness and cruelties of his practices, are but 
the executioners of the sentence passed before upon him by his 
judgment. Contempt, like the planet Saturn, has first an ill 
aspect, and then a destroying influence. 

By all which, I suppose, it is sufficiently proved, how noxious 
it must needs be to every governor: for, can a man respect the 
person whom he despises ? And can there be obedience, where 
there is not so much as respect ? Will the knee bend, while the 
heart insults ? and the actions submit, while the apprehensions 
rebel ? And therefore the most experienced disturbers and un- 
derminers of government have always laid their first train in 
contempt, endeavouring to blow it up in the judgment and esteem 
of the subject : and Avas not this method observed in the late 
most flourishing and successful rebellion ? For, how studiously 
did they lay about them, both from the pulpit and the press, to 


cast a slur upon the king's person, and to bring his governing- 
abilities under a disrepute. And then, after they had sufficiently 
blasted him in his personal capacity, they found it easy work to 
dash and overthrow him in his political. 

Reiiutation is jsower, and consequently to despise is to weaken: 
for where there is contempt, there can be no aAve ; and where 
there is no awe, there wiU be no subjection ; and if there is no 
subjection, it is impossible, without the help of the former dis- 
tinction of a politic capacity, to imagine how a prince can 
be a governor. He that makes his prince despised and under- 
valued, blows a trumpet against him in men's breasts, beats him 
out of his subjects' hearts, and fights him out of their affections ; 
and after tliis, he may easily strip him of his other garrisons, 
having already dispossessed him of his strongest, by dismantling 
him of his honour, and seizing his reputation. 

Nor is what has been said of princes less true of all other 
governors, from highest to lowest," from him that heads an army 
to him that is master of a family, or of one single servant ; the 
formal reason of a thing equally extending itself to every par- 
ticidar of the same kind. It is a proposition of eternal verity, 
that none can govern while he is despised. We may as well 
imagine that there may be a king without majesty, a supreme 
without sovereignty. It is a paradox, and a direct contradiction 
in practice ; for where contempt takes place, the very causes and 
capacities of government cease. 

Men are so far from being governed by a despised person, that 
they will not so much as be taught by him. Truth itself shall 
lose its credit, if delivered by a person that has none. As on the 
contrary, be but a person in vogue and credit with the multitude, 
he shall be able to commend and set off Avhatsoever he says, to 
authorize any nonsense, and to make popular, rambling, incoher- 
ent stuff (seasoned with twang and tautology), pass for high rhe- 
toric, and moving preaching ; such indeed as a zealous tradesman 
would even live and die under. And now, I suppose it is no ill 
topic of argumentation, to show the prevalence of contempt, by 
the contrary influences of respect ; which thus, as it were, dubs 
every little, petit, admired person, lord and commander of all his 
admirers. And certain it is, that the ecclesiastical, as well as the 
civil governor, has cause to pursue the same methods of securing 
and confirming himself, the grounds and means of government 
being foimded upon the same bottom of nature in both, though 
the circumstances and relative considerations of the persons may 
differ. And I have nothing to say more upon this head, but that 
if churchmen are called upon to discharge the parts of governors, 
they may, with the highest reason, expect those supports and 
helps that are indispensably requisite thereunto; and that those 
men are but trepanned, Avho are called to govern, being invested 
with authority, but bereaved of power: which according to a 

G 2 


true and plain estimate of things, is nothing else but to mock 
and betray them into a splendid and magisterial way of being 
ridiculous. And thus much for the ill effects and destructive in- 
fluence that contempt has upon government. 

2. I pass now to the second thing : which is to show the 
groundless causes upon which church rulers are frequently 

Concerning which I shall premise this, that nothing can be a 
reasonable ground of despising a man, but some fault or other 
chargeable upon him ; and nothing can be a fault that is not 
naturally in a man's power to prevent ; otherwise, it is a man's 
unhappiness, his mischance, or calamity, bvit not his fault. No- 
thing can justly be despised, that cannot justly be blamed : and 
it is a most certain rule in reason and moral philosophy, that 
where there is no choice, there can be no blame. 

This premised, we may take notice of two usual grounds of 
the contempt men cast upon the clergy, and yet for which no 
man ought to think himself at all the more worthy to be con- 

(1.) The first is their very profession itself; concerning wliich 
it is a sad, but an experimented truth, that the names derived 
from it, in the refined language of the present age, are made but 
the appellatives of scorn. This is not charged universally upon 
all ; but experience will affirm, or rather proclaim it of much the 
greater part of the world ; and men must persuade us that we 
have lost our hearing and our common sense, before we can be- 
lieve the contrary. But surely the bottom and foundation of 
this behaviour towards persons set apart for the service of God, 
that this very relation should entitle them to such a peculiar 
scorn, can be notliing else but atheism, the growing rampant sin 
of the times. 

For call a man oppressor, griping, covetous, or over-reaching 
person, and the word indeed, being ill befriended by custom, per- 
haps sounds not well ; but generally, in the apprehension of the 
hearer, it signifies no more than that such a one is a wise, and a 
thriving, or, in the common phrase, a notable man; which will 
certainly procure him a respect : and say of another, that he is 
an epicure, a loose, or a vicious man, and it leaves in men no 
other oj^inion of him, than that he is a merry, pleasant, and a 
genteel person : and that he that taxes him is but a pedant, an 
unexperienced and a morose fellow ; one that does not know men, 
nor understand what it is to eat and drink well. But call a man 
priest or parson, and you set him, in some men's esteem, ten 
degrees below his own servant. 

But let us not be discouraged or displeased, either with our- 
selves or our profession, upon this account. Let the virtuosos 
mock, insult, and despise on ; yet, after all, they shall never be 
able to droll away the nature of things, to tramj)le a pearl into a 


pebble, nor to make sacred tilings contemptible ; any more than 
themselves, by such speeches, honourable. 

(2.) Another groundless cause of some men's despising the 
gOA'^ernors of our church, is their loss of that former grandeur 
and j)rivilege that they enjoyed. But it is no real disgrace to the 
church merely to lose her privileges, but to forfeit them by her 
fault or misdemeanor, of which she is not conscious. Whatever 
she enjoyed in.this kind, she readily acknowledges to have streamed 
from the royal munificence, and the favours of the civil power 
shining upon the spiritual ; which favours the same power may 
retract and gather back into itself, when it pleases. And we envy 
not the greatness and lustre of the Romish clergy ; neither their 
scarlet gowns nor their scarlet sins. If our church cannot be 
great she can be humble, wliich is better, and content to be re- 
formed into as low a condition as men for their own private ad- 
vantage would have her ; who wisely tell her, that it is best and 
safest for her to be without any power or temporal advantage ; 
like the good physician, who out of tenderness to liis patient, lest 
he shoidd hurt himself by di'inking, was so kind as to rob him of 
his silver cup. The church of England glories in nothing more 
than that she is the truest friend to kings and to kingly govern- 
ment, of any other church in the world ; that they were the same 
hands and principles that took the crown from the king's head, 
and the mitre from the bishops. It is indeed the happiness of 
some professions and callings, that they can equally square them- 
selves to, and thrive under all revolutions of government : but 
the clergy of England neither know nor affect that happiness, 
and are wiUing to be despised for not doing so. And so far is 
our church from encroacliing upon the civil power, as some, who 
are back-friends to both, would maliciously insinuate, that, were 
it stripped of the very remainder of its privileges, and made as 
like the primitive church for its barrenness, as it is already for 
its purity, it could cheerfuUy, and, what is more, loyally, want aU 
such privileges ; and, in the want of them, pray heartily, that the 
civil power may flourish as much, and stand as secure from the 
assaults of fanatic, antimonarchical principles (grown to such a 
dreadful height during the church's late confusions) as it stood 
while the church enjoyed those privileges. And thus much for 
the two groundless causes upon which church rulers are fre- 
quently despised ; I descend now to the 

3. And last thing, which is to show those just causes, that 
would render them, or indeed any other rulers, worthy to be de- 
spised. Many might be assigned ; but I shall pitch only upon 
four. In discoursing of which, rather the time, than the subject, 
will force me to be very brief. 

(1.) And the first is ignorance. We know how great an ab- 
surdity our Saviour accounted it, "for the blind to lead the blind ;" 
and to put him that cannot so much as see, to discharge the office 

86 DR. south's sermons. [^serm. v. 

of a watch. Notliing more exposes to contempt than ignorance. 
When Samson's eyes were out, of a public magistrate he was 
made a pubHc sport. And when Eli was blind, we know how well 
he governed liis sons, and how well they governed the church 
under him. But now the blindness of the understanding is 
greater and more scandalous ; especially in such a seeing age as 
ours, in which the very knowledge of former times passes but for 
ignorance in a better ' dress ; an age that flies at all learning, and 
inquires into every thing, but especially into faults and defects. 
Ignorance indeed, so far as it may be resolved into natural in- 
ability, is, as to men at least, inculpable ; and consequently not 
the object of scorn, but pity; but in a governor it cannot be 
without the conjunction of the liighest impudence : for who bid 
such a one aspire to teach and to govern ? A blind man sitting 
in the chimney corner is pardonable enough, but sitting at the 
helm he is intolerable. If men will be ignorant and illiterate, 
let them be so in private, and to themselves, and not set their de- 
fects in a high place, to make them visible and conspicuous. If 
owls will not be hooted at, let them keep close within the tree, 
and not perch upon the upper boughs. 

(2.) A second thing that makes a governor justly despised, is 
viciousness and iU morals. Virtue is that wliich must tip the 
preacher's tongue and the ruler's sceptre with authority : and 
therefore with what a controlling overpowering force did our 
Saviour tax the sins of the Jews, when he ushered in his rebukes 
of them with that high assertion of himself, " Wlio is there 
amongst you that convinces me of sin ?" Otherwise we may easily 
guess with what impatience the world would have heard an in- 
cestuous Herod discoursing of chastity, a Judas condemning 
covetousness, or a Pharisee preaching against hypocrisy : every 
word must have recoiled upon the speaker. Guilt is that which 
quells the courage of the bold, ties the tongue of the eloquent, 
and makes greatness itself sneak and lurk, and behave itself poorly. 
For, let a vicious person be in never so high command, yet still he 
will be looked upon but as one great vice, empowered to correct 
and chastise others. A corrupt governor is nothing else but a 
reigning sin : and a sin in office may command any thing but 
respect. No man can be credited by his place or power, who by 
his virtue does not first credit that. 

3. A third thing that makes a governor justly despised, is 
fearfulness of, and mean compliances with bold, popular offend- 
ers. Some indeed account it the very spirit of policy and pru- 
dence, where men refuse to come up to a law, to make the law 
come down to them. And for their so doing, have this infallible 
recompence, that they are not at all the more loved, but much 
the less feared ; and, which is a sure consequent of it, accord- 
ingly respected. But believe it, it is a resolute, tenacious ad- 
herence to well chosen principles, that adds glory to greatness. 


and makes the face of a governor sliine in the eyes of those that 
see and examine his actions. DisoT^edience, if comjjlied with, is 
infinitely encroaching, and having gained one degree of liberty 
upon indulgence, will demand another upon claim. Every vice 
interprets a connivance an approbation. 

Wliich being so, is it not an enormous indecency, as well as a 
gross impiety, that any one who owns the name of a divine, 
hearing a great sinner brave it against heaven, talk atheistically, 
and scoff profanely at that religion by which he owns all expect- 
ation to be saved, if he cares to be saved at all, should, instead 
of vindicating the truth to the blasphemer's teeth, think it dis- 
cretion and moderation, forsooth, Avith a complying silence, and 
perhaps a smile to boot, tacitly to approve and strike in with the 
scoffer, and so go sharer both in the mirth and guilt of liis pro- 
fane jests ? 

But let such a one be assured, that even that blasphemer 
himself would inwardly reverence him if rebuked by him ; as, 
on the contrary, he in his heart really despises him for his cow- 
ardly base silence. If any one should reply here, that the times 
and manners of men will not bear such a practice, I confess that 
it is an answer, from the mouth of a professed time-server, very 
rational : but as for that man that is not so, let him satisfy him- 
self of the reason, justice, and duty of an action, and leave the 
event of it to God, who will never fail those who do not think 
themselves too wise to trust him. For, let the worst come to 
the worst, a man in so doing would be ruined more honourably 
than otherwise preferred. 

4. And lastly. A fourth thing that makes a governor justly 
despised, is a proneness to despise others. There is a kind of 
respect due to the meanest person, even from the greatest ; for 
it is the mere favour of Providence, that he, who is actually the 
greatest, was not the meanest. A man cannot cast his respects 
so low, but they will rebound and return upon him. What 
heaven bestows upon earth in kind influences and benign aspects, 
is paid it back again in sacrifice, incense, and adoration. And 
surely, a great person gets more by obliging his inferior, than he 
can by disdaining liim; as a man has a greater advantage by 
sowing and dressing his ground, than he can have by trampling 
upon it. It is not to insult and domineer, to look disdainfully, 
and revile imperiously, that procures an esteem from any one : 
it will indeed make men keep their distance sufficiently, but it 
will be distance without reverence. 

And thus I have shown four several causes that may justly 
render any ruler despised ; and by the same work, I hope, have 
made it evident, how little cause men have to despise the rulers 
of our church. 

God is the fountain of honour, and the conduit by which he 
conveys it to the sons of men, arc virtuous and generous prac- 


tices. But as for us, who have more immediately and nearly 
devoted both our persons and concerns to his service, it were 
infinitely vain to expect it upon any other terms. Some indeed 
may please and promise themselves high matters from full reve- 
nues, stately palaces, court interests, and great dependencies: 
but that wliich makes the clergy glorious, is to be knowing in 
their profession, unspotted in their lives, active and laborious in 
their charges, bold and resolute in opposing seducers, and daring 
to look vice in the face, though never so potent and illustrious ; 
and lastly, to be gentle, courteous, and compassionate to all. 

These are our robes and our maces, our escutcheons, and 
highest titles of honour : for by all these things God is honom*ed, 
who has declared this the eternal rule and standard of all honour 
derivable upon men, that " those who honour him shall be 
honoured by liim." 

To which God, fearful in praises, and working wonders, be 
rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, majesty, 
and dominion, both now and for evermore. Amen. 



WHY Christ's doctrine was rejected by the jews. 

John vii. 17. 

If any man loill do his will, he shall knotc of the doctrine, whether 
it be of God, or ichether I speak of myself. 

When God was pleased to new model the world by the intro- 
duction of a new religion, and that in the room of one set up by 
liimself, it was requisite that he should recommend it to the 
reasons of men with the same authority and evidence that en- 
forced the former ; and that a religion established by God himself 
should not be displaced by any thing under a demonstration of 
that diAdne power that first introduced it. And the whole 
Jewish economy, we know, was brought in with miracles ; the 
law was writ and confirmed by the same almighty hand : the 
whole universe was subservient to its promulgation ; the signs of 
Egypt and the Red sea ; fire and a voice from heaven ; the 
heights of the one, and the depths of the other ; so that, as it 
were, from the top to the bottom of nature there issued forth 
one universal united testimony of the divinity of the Mosaic law 
and reHgion. And this stood in the world for the space of two 
thousand years ; tiU at length, in the fulness of time, the reason 
of men ripening to such a pitch, as to be above the pedagogy of 
Moses' rod, and the discipline of types, God thought fit to dis- 
play the substance without the shadow, and to read the world a 
lecture of a higher and a more sublime religion in Christianity. 
But the Jewish was yet in possession, and therefore that this 
might so enter, as not to intrude, it was to bring its warrant from 
the same hand of Omnipotence. And for tliis cause Christ, that 
he might not make either a suspected or precarious address to 
men's understandings, outdoes Moses before he displaces him ; 
shows an ascendant spirit above him, raises the dead, and cures 
more plagues than he brought upon Egypt, casts out devils, and 
heals the deaf, speaking such words as even gave ears to hear 
them ; cures the blind and the lame, and makes the very dumb to 
speak for the truth of his doctrine. But what was the result of 
all this ? Why, some look upon him as an impostor and a con- 
jurer, as an agent for Beelzebub, and therefore reject his gospel, 
hold fast their law, and will not let Moses give place to the ma- 


Now the cause that Christ's doctrine was rejected, must of 
necessity be one of these two. 1. An insufficiency in the argu- 
ments brought by Christ to enforce it. Or, 2. An indisposition 
in the persons to whom this doctrine was addressed, to receive it. 

And for this, Christ, who had not only an infinite power to 
work miracles, but also an equal wisdom both to know the just 
force and measure of every argument, or moti^^e to persuade or 
cause assent ; and withal, to look through and through all the 
dark corners of the soul of man, all the windings and turnings, 
and various workings of liis facidties ; and to discern how, and 
by what means they are to be wrought upon ; and what prevails 
upon them, and what does not : he, I say, states the Avhole 
matter upon this issue ; that the arguments by which his doctrine 
addressed itself to the minds of men, were proper, adequate, and 
sufficient to compass their respective ends in persuading or con- 
vincing the persons to Avhom they were proposed ; and moreover, 
that there was no such defect in the natural light of man's un- 
derstanding, or knowing faculty ; but that, considered in itself, 
it would be apt enough to close with, and yield its assent to the 
evidence of those arguments duly offered to, and laid before it. 
And yet, that after all this, the event proved otherwise ; and that 
notwithstanding both the weight and fitness of the arguments to 
persuade, and the light of man's intellect to meet tliis persuasive 
evidence with a suitable assent, no assent followed, nor were men 
thereby actually persuaded ; he charges it wholly upon the cor- 
ruption, the perverseness, and vitiosity of man's will, as the only 
cause that rendered all the arg-uments his doctrine came clothed 
with, unsuccessful. And consequently, he affirms here in the 
text, that men must love the truth before they thoroughly believe 
it ; and that the gospel has then only a free admission into the 
assent of the understanding, when it brings a passport from a 
rightly disposed will, as being the great faculty of dominion, that 
commands all, that shuts out and lets in what objects it pleases, 
and, in a word, keeps the keys of the whole soul. 

This is the design and purport of the words, which I shall draw 
iorth and handle in the prosecution of these four following heads. 

I. I shall show what the doctrine of Christ was, that the 
world so much stuck at, and was so averse from believing. 

II. I shall show that men's unbelief of it was from no defect 
or insufficiency in the arguments brought by Christ to enforce it. 

III. I shall show what was the true and proper cause into 
which this unbelief was resolved. 

IV. And lastly, I shall show, that a pious and well-disposed 
mind, attended with a readiness to obey the known will of God, 
is the surest and best means to enliohten the understanding to a 
belief of Christianity. Of these in their order : and. 

I. For the doctrine of Christ. We must take it in the known and 

WHY Christ's doctrine was rejected. 91 

common division of it, into matters of belief, and matters of practice. 
The matters of belief related chiefly to his person and offices. 
As, ' That he was the Messias that should come into the world: 
the eternal Son of God, begotten of liim before all worlds : that 
in time he was made man, and bora of a pure vii'gin : that he 
should die and satisfy for the sins of the world; and that he 
should rise again from the dead, and ascend into heaven ; and 
there, sitting at the right hand of God, hold the government of 
the Avhole world, till the great and last day ; in which he should 
judge both the quick and the dead, raised to life again with the 
very same bodies ; and then deliver up all rule and government 
into the hands of his Father.' These were the great articles 
and credenda of Christianity, that so much startled the world, 
and seemed to be such as not only brought in a new religion 
amongst men, but also required new reason to embrace it. 

The other part of his doctrine lay in matters of practice ; 
which we find contained in his several sermons, but principally 
in that glorious, full, and admirable discourse upon the mount, 
recorded in the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of St. Matthew% 
All which particulars, if we would reduce to one general com- 
prehensive head, they are all wrapped up in the doctrine of self- 
denial,* prescribing to the world the most inward purity of heart, 
and a constant conflict with all our sensual appetites and worldly 
interests, even to the quitting of all that is dear to us, and the 
sacrificing of Hfe itself, rather than knowingly to omit the least 
duty, or commit the least sin. And this was that w^hich grated 
harder upon, and raised greater tumults and boilings in the hearts 
of men, than the strangeness and seeming unreasonableness of all 
the former articles, that took up chiefly in specidation and behef. 
And that this was so, w ill appear from a consideration of the 
state and condition the world was in, as to religion, when Christ 
promidged his doctrine. Nothing further than the outward 
action was then looked after, and when that failed, there was an 
expiation ready in the opus operatum of a sacrifice. So that all 
their virtue and rehgion lay in their folds and their stalls, and 
what was wanting in the innocence, the blood of lambs was to 
supply. The scribes and pharisees, who were the great doctors 
of the Jewish church, expounded the law no further. They 
accounted no man a murderer, but he that stuck a knife into his 
brother's heart ; no man an adulterer, but he that actually defiled 
his neighbour's bed. They thought it no injustice nor irreligion 
to prosecute the severest retaliation or revenge ; so that at the 
same time their outward man might be a saint, and their inward 
man a devil. No care at all was had to curb the unruliness of 
anger, or the exorbitance of desire. Amongst all their sacrifices, 
they never sacrificed so much as one lust. Bulls and goats bled 
apace, but neither the violence of the one, nor the wantonness of 
* See Sermon iii. on Matthew x. 33, p. 36. 


the other, ever died a victun at any of their altars. So that no 
wonder that a doctrine which arraigned the irregidarities of the 
most inward motions and aifections of the soul, and told men, 
that anger and harsh words were mm'der, and looks and desires 
adulteiy ; that a man might stab with liis tongue, and assassinate 
with his mind, pollute himself with a glance, and forfeit eternity 
by a cast of his eye ; no wonder, I say, that such a doctrine 
made a strange bustle and disturbance in the world, wliich then 
sat warm and easy in a free enjoyment of their lusts ; ordering 
matters so, that they put a trick upon the great rule of virtue, 
the laio, and made a shift to think themselves guiltless, in spite of 
all their sins ; to break the precept, and at the same time to 
baffle the curse ; contriving themselves such a sort of holiness, as 
should please God and themselves too ; justify and save them 
harmless, but never sanctify nor make them better. 

But the severe notions of Christianity turned all this upside 
down, filling all Avitli surprise and amazement ; they came upon 
the world like light darting full upon the face of a man asleep, 
who had a mind to sleep on, and not to be disturbed ; they were 
terrible astonishing alarms to persons grown fat and wealthy by 
a long and successful impostm'e ; by suppressing the true sense 
of the law, by putting another veil upon Moses ; and, in a word, 
persuading the world, that men might be honest and religious, 
happy and blessed, though they never denied nor mortified one 
of their corrupt appetites. 

And thus much for the first tiling proposed; wliich was to 
give you a brief draught of the doctrine of Christ, that met with 
so httle assent from the world in general, and from the Jews in 
particular. I come noAV to the 

II. Second thing proposed ; which was to sliOAV, That merCs 
unbelief of Chrisfs doctrine loas from no defect or insufficiency in 
the arguments brought by Christ to enforce it. This I shall make 
appear two ways. 

1. By showing that the arguments spoken of were in them- 
selves convincing and sufficient. 2. By showing that upon 
supposition they were not so, yet their insufficiency was not the 
cause of their rejection. 

1. And first for the first of these : That the arguments 
brought by Christ for the confirmation of his doctrine were 
in themselves convincing and sufficient, I shall insist only upon 
the convincing power of the two principal ; one from the pro- 
phecies recorded concerning him, the other from the miracles 
done by him. Of both very briefly. And for the former : there 
was a full entire harmony and consent of all the divine predic- 
tions receiving their completion in Christ. The strength of 
which argument lies in this, that it evinces the divine mission of 
Christ's person, and thereby proves him to Ijc the Messias ; 

WHY Christ's doctrine was rejected. 93 

which by consequence proves and asserts the truth of his 
doctrine ; for he that Avas so sent by God, could declare nothing 
but the will of God. And so evidently do all the prophecies 
agree to Christ, that I dare with great confidence affirm, that if 
the prophecies recorded of the Messiah are not fulfilled in Jesus 
of Nazareth, it is impossible to know or distinguish when a pro- 
phecy is fulfilled, and when not, in any thing or person whatso- 
ever; wliich would utterly evacuate the use of them. But in 
Christ they all meet with such an invincible lustre and evidence, 
as if they were not predictions, but after relations ; and the pen- 
men of them not prophets, but evangelists. And now, can any 
kind of ratiocination allow Christ all the marks of the Messiah, 
and yet deny him to be the Messiah ? Could he have all the 
signs, and yet not be the thing signified ? Could the shadows 
that followed him, and were cast from him, belong to any other 
body ? All these things were absurd and unnatural ; and there- 
fore the force of this argument was undeniable. 

Nor was that other from the miracles done by him at all 
inferior. The strength and force of which, to prove the things 
they are alleged for, consists in this ; that a miracle being a woyk 
exceeding the power of any created agent, and consequently 
being an eifect of the divine omnipotence, when it is done to 
give credit and authority to any woi'd or doctrine declared to 
proceed from God, either that doctrine must really proceed from 
God, as it is declared ; or God, by that work of his almighty 
power, must bear witness to a falsehood ; and so bring the 
creature under the greatest obligations that can possibly engage 
the assent of a rational nature, to believe and assent to a lie. 
For surely a greater reason than this cannot be produced for the 
behef of any thing, than for a man to stand up and say, This and 
this I tell you as the mind and word of God ; and to prove that 
it is so, I will do that before your eyes, that you yourselves shall 
confess can be done by nothing but the almighty power of that 
God that can neither deceive nor be deceived. Now if this be 
an irrefragable way to convince, as the reason of all mankind 
must confess it to be, then Christ's doctrine came attended and 
enforced with the greatest means of conviction imaginable. Thus 
much for the argument in thesi; and then for the assumption, 
that Christ did such miraculous and supernatural works to con- 
firm what he said, we need only repeat the message sent by him 
to Jolm the Baptist : " That the dumb spake, the blind saw, the 
lame walked, and the dead were raised." Which particulars none 
of his bitterest enemies ever pretended to deny, they being con- 
veyed to them by an evidence past all exception, even the 
evidence of sense; nay, of the quickest, the surest, and most 
authentic of all the senses, the sight ; which if it be not certain 
in the reports and representations it makes of things to the mind, 
there neither is, nor can be naturally, any such thing as certainty 


or knowledge in tlie world. And thus mucli for the first part of 
the second general thing projiosed ; namely, That the arguments 
brought by Christ for the proof of his doctrine, were in them- 
selves convincing and sufficient. 

2. I come now to the other part of it, which is to show, That 
admitting or supposing that they were not sufficient, yet their 
insufficiency was not the cause of their actual rejection. ^Vhich 
will appear from these following reasons : 

(1.) Because those Avho rejected Clu'ist's doctrine, and the 
arguments by which he confirmed it, fully believed and assented 
to other things conveyed to them with less evidence. Such as 
were even the miracles of Moses himself, upon the credit and 
authority of which stood the whole economy of the Jewish con- 
stitution. For though I grant that they believed his miracles 
upon the credit of constant unerring tradition, both written and 
unwritten, and grant also that such tradition was of as great cer- 
tainty as the reports of sense ; yet still I affirm that it was not 
of the same evidence, which yet is the greatest and most imme- 
diate ground of all assent. 

The evidence of sense, as I have noted, is the clearest that 
naturally the mind of man can receive, and is indeed the founda- 
tion both of all the e\ddence and certainty too, that tradition is 
capable of; wliich pretends to no other credibility from the testi- 
mony and word of some men, but because their word is at length 
traced up to, and originally terminates in, the sense and ex- 
perience of some others, wliich could not be known beyond that 
compass of time in which it was exercised, but by being told and 
reported to such as, not living at that time, saw it not, and by 
them to others, and so down from one age to another. For we 
therefore believe the report of some men concerning a thing, 
because it implies that there were some others who actually saw 
that thing. It is clear, therefore, that want of evidence could not 
be the cause that the Jews rejected and disbelieved the gospel, 
since they embraced and believed the law upon the credit of 
those miracles that Avere less evident. For those of Christ they 
knew by sight and sense, those of Moses only by tradition ; 
which, though equally certain, yet were by no means equally 
evident with the other. 

(2.) They believed and assented to things that were neither 
evident nor certain, but only probable ; for they conversed, they 
traded, they merchandized, and by so doing, frequently ventured 
their whole estates and fortunes upon a probable belief or per- 
suasion of the honesty and truth of those whom they dealt and 
corresponded with. And interest, especially in worldly matters, 
and yet more especially with a Jew, never proceeds but upon 
supposal, at least, of a firm and sufficient bottom : from whence 
it is manifest, that since they could believe, and practically rely 
upon, and that even in their dearest concerns, bare probabilities; 


tliey could not, with any colour of reason, pretend want of 
evidence for their disbelief of Christ's doctrine, which came en- 
forced with arguments far surpassing all such probabilities. 

3. They believed and assented to things neither evident nor 
certain, nor yet so much as probable, but actually false and 
fallacious. Such as were the absurd doctrines and stories of their 
rabbins ; which, though since Christ's time they have grown much 
more numerous and fabidous than before, yet even then did so 
much pester the church, and so grossly abuse and delude the 
minds of that people, that contradictions themselves asserted by 
rabbies, were equally received and revered by them as the sacred 
and infalhble word of God. And whereas they rejected Christ 
and his doctrine, though every tittle of it came enforced with 
miracle, and the best arguments that heaven and earth could 
back it with ; yet Christ then foretold, and after times con- 
firmed that prediction of his in John v. 43, that they " should 
receive" many cheats and deceivers " coming to them m their 
own name ;" fellows that set up for Messiahs, only upon their 
own heads, without pretending to any thing singular or mira- 
culous, but impudence and imposture. 

From all which it follows, that the Jews could not allege so 
much as a pretence of the want of evidence in the argument 
brought by Christ to prove tlie divinity and authority of Ms doc- 
trine, as a reason of their rejection and disbelief of it ; since they 
embraced and believed many tilings, for some of wliicli they had 
no evidence, and for others of which they had no certainty, and 
for most of which they had not so much as probability. Which 
being so, from whence then could such an obstinate infidehty, 
in matters of so great clearness and credibility, take its rise? 
Why, this will be made out to us in the 

III. Tliird thing proposed, wliich was to show what teas the 
true and proper cause into which this unbelief of the Pharisees teas 
resolved. And that was, in a word, the captivity of their wills 
and affections to lusts directly opposite to the design and spirit of 
Christianity. They were extremely ambitious, and insatiably 
covetous ; and therefore no impression from argument or miracle 
could reach them, but they stood proof against all conviction. 
Now, to show how the pravity of the wiU could influence the 
understanding to a disbehef of Christianity, I shall premise these 
two considerations : 

1. That the understanding, in its assent to any religion, is 
very differently wrought upon in persons bred up in it, and in 
persons at length converted to it. For in the first, it finds the 
mind naked, and unprepossessed with any former notions, and so 
easily and insensibly gains upon the assent, grows up with it, 
and incorporates into it. But in persons adult, and already 
possessed with other notions of religion, the understanding can- 


not be brought to quit these, and to change them for new, but 
by great consideration and examination of the truth and firmness 
of the one, and comparing them with the flaws and weakness of 
the other. Wliich cannot be done without some labour and in- 
tention of the mind, and the thoughts dweUing a considerable 
time upon the survey and discussion of each particular. 

2. The other tiling to be considered is, that in this great 
work the understanding is chiefly at the disposal of the will. 
For though it is not in the power of the will, directly either to 
cause or hinder the assent of the understanding to a thing pro- 
posed, and duly set before it ; yet it is antecedently in the power 
of the will, to apply the understanding faculty to, or to take it 
off from the consideration of those objects to which, without 
such a previous consideration, it cannot yield its assent. For all 
assent presupposes a simple apprehension or knowledge of the 
terms of the proposition to be assented to. But unless the un- 
derstanding employ and exercise its cognitive or apprehensive 
power about these terms, there can be no actual apprehension of 
them. And the understanding, as to the exercise of this power, 
is subject to the command of the will ; though as to the specific 
nature of its acts it is determined by the object. As for instance; 
my understanding cannot assent to this proposition, " that Jesus 
Christ is the Son of God ;" but it must first consider, and so 
apprehend what the terms and parts of it are, and what they 
signify. And this cannot be done, if my will be so slothful, 
worldly, or voluptuously disposed, as never to suffer me at all to 
think of them ; but perpetually to carry away, and apply my 
mind to other things. Thus far is the understanding at the dis- 
posal of the will. 

Now these two considerations being premised, namely, that 
persons grown up in the belief of any rehgion cannot change 
that for another, without applying their understanding duly to 
consider and compare both ; and then, that it is in the power of 
the will, whether it will suffer the understanding thus to dwell 
upon such objects or no ; from these two, I say, we have the true 
philosophy and reason of the Pharisees' unbehef : for they could 
not rehnquish their Judaism, and embrace Christianity, Avithout 
considering, weighing, and collating both religions. And this 
their understanding could not apply to, if it were diverted and 
taken off" by their will ; and their Avill would be sure to divert 
and take it off", being wholly possessed and governed by their 
covetousness and ambition, which perfectly abhorred the precepts 
of such a doctrine. And tliis is the very account that our 
Saviour himself gives of this matter in John v. 44, " Hoav can 
ye believe," says he, " who receive honour one of another ?" He 
looked upon it as a thing morally impossible, for persons infinitely 
proud and ambitious, to frame their minds to an impartial, un- 
biassed consideration of a religion that taught nothing but self- 

"WHY Christ's doctrine was rejected. 97 

denial and the cross ; that humility was honour ; and that the 
higher men climbed, the further they were from heaven. They 
could not with patience so much as think of it ; and therefore, 
you may be sure, Avould never assent so it. And again ; Avhen 
Chx'ist discom'sed to them of alms, and a pious distribution of 
the goods and riches of this world, in Luke xvi. it is said in 
the 14th verse, that "the Pharisees, who were covetous, heard 
all those tilings, and derided him," Charity and liberality is a 
paradox to the covetous. The doctrine that teaches alms, and 
the persons that need them, are by such equally sent packing. 
Tell a miser of bounty to a friend, or mercy to the poor, and 
point him out his duty with an evidence as bright and piercing 
as the light, yet he will not understand it, but shuts his eyes as 
close as he does his hands, and resolves not to be convinced. In 
both these cases, there is an incurable blindness caused by a re- 
solution not to see ; and to all intents and purposes, he who tvill 
not open his eyes, is, for the present, as blind as he that cannot. 
And thus I have done with the third thing proposed, and shown 
what was the true cause of the Pharisees' disbelief of Christ's 
doctrine : it was the predominance of those two great vices over 
the will, their covetousness and ambition. Pass we now to the 

IV. And last, which is to show, that a pious and loell disposed 
mind, attended with a readiness to obey the knoivn will of God, is 
the surest and best means to enlighten the understanding to a belief 
of Christianity. That it is so, wiU appear upon a double account. 

1. First, upon the account of God's goodness, and the method 
of his deahng with the souls of men ; which is, to reward every 
degree of sincere obedience to his will, with a further discovery 
of it. " I understand more than the ancients," says David, Ps. 
cxix. 100. But how did he attain such an excellency of under- 
standing ? Was it by longer study, or a greater quickness and 
felicity of parts, than was in those before him ? No, he gives the 
reason in the next words ; it was " because I keep thy statutes." 
He got the start of them in point of obedience, and thereby 
outstripped them at length in point of knowledge. And who, in 
old time, were the men of extraordinary revelations, but those 
who were also men of extraordinary piety? Who were made 
privy to the secrets of heaven, and the hidden will of the Al- 
mighty, but such as performed his revealed will at an higher rate 
of strictness than the rest of the world ? They were the Enochs, 
the Abrahams, the Elijahs, and the Daniels ; such as the scrl^J- 
ture remarkably testifies of, that " they walked with God." 
And surely he that walks with another, is in a likelier way to 
know and understand his mind, than he that follows him at a 
distance. Upon which account the learned Jews still made this 
one of the ingredients that went to constitute a prophet, tliat he 
should be perfectus in moralibus, a person of exact morals, and 

VOL. I. H 


unblameable in his life ; the gift of prophecy being a ray of such 
a light, as never darts itself u^jon a dunghill. And Avhat I here 
observe occasionally of extraordinary revelation and prophecy, 
will, by analogy and dvie proportion, extend even to those 
communications of God's will, that are requisite to men's salva- 
tion. An honest hearty simplicity and proneness to do all that 
a man knows of God's will, is the ready, certain, and infallible 
way to know more of it. For I am sure it may be said of the 
practical knowledge of religion, " That to him that hath shall be 
given, and he shall have more abundantly." 

I dare not, I confess, join in that bold assertion of some, that 
facienti quod in se est, Deus nee debet nee potest denegare c/ratiam, 
which indeed is no less than a direct contradiction in the very 
terms ; for if Deus debet, then id quod debetur non est gratia ; there 
being a perfect inconsistency between that which is of debt, and 
that wliich is of free gift. And therefore lea^dng the non debet 
and the non potest to those that can bind and loose the Almighty 
at their pleasure ; so much, I think, we may pronounce safely in 
this matter, that the goodness and mercy of God is such, that he 
never deserts a sincere person, nor suffers any one that shall live 
(even according to these measures of sincerity) up to what he 
knows, to perish for want of any knowledge necessary, and 
what is more, sufficient to save liim. 

If any one would here say. Were there then none living up 
to these measures of sincerity among the heathen? And if there 
were, did the goodness of God afford such persons knowledge 
enough to save them? My answer is according to that of St. 
Paul, "I judge not those that are without the church:" they 
stand or fall to their own master: I have nothing to say of 
them. " Secret things belong to God ;" it becomes us to be 
thankful to God, and charitable to men. 

2. A pious and well disposed will is the readiest means to 
enlighten the understanding to a knowledge of the truth of 
Christianity, upon the account of a natural efficiency; foras- 
much as a will so disposed will be sure to engage the mind in a 
severe search into the great and concerning truths of religion: 
nor win it only engage the mind in such a search ; but it will 
also accompany that search with two dispositions, directly tend- 
ing to, and principally productive of, the discoveries of truth; 
namely, diligence and impartiality. And, 

(1.) For the diligence of the search. Diligence is the great 
harbinger of truth ; which rarely takes up in any mind till that 
has gone before, and made room for it. It is a steady, constant, 
and pertinacious study, that naturally leads the sovd into the 
knowledge of that which at first seemed locked up from it ; for 
this keeps the understanding long in converse with an object, 
and long converse brings acquaintance. Frequent consideration 
of a thing wears off the strangeness of it ; and sliows it in its 

WHY Christ's doctrine M'^as rejected. 99 

several lights, and various ways of appearance, to the view of the 

Truth is a great stronghold, barred and fortified by God and 
nature ; and diligence is properly the understanding's laying 
siege to it : so that, as in a kind of warfare, it must be perpetu- 
ally upon the watch, observing all the avenues and passes to it, 
and accordingly makes its approaches. Sometimes it thinks it 
gains a point; and presently again it finds itself baffled and 
beaten off: yet still it renews the onset; attacks the difficulty 
afresh; plants this reasoning and that argument, this conse- 
quence and that distinction, like so many intellectual batteries, 
tiU, at length, it forces a way and passage into the obstinate in- 
closed truth, that so long withstood and defied all its assaults. 

The Jesuits have a saying common amongst them, touching 
the instruction of youth, (in wliich their chief strength and talent 
lies,) that vexatio dat intellectum. As when the mind casts and 
turns itself restlessly from one thing to another, strains this 
poAver of the soul to apprehend, that to judge, another to divide, 
a fourth to remember ; thus tracing out the nice and scarce ob- 
servable difference of some things, and the real agreement of 
others, tiU, at length, it brings all the ends of a long and various 
hypothesis together; sees how one part coheres with, and de- 
pends upon another ; and so clears off all the appearing contra- 
rieties and contradictions that seemed to lie cross and uncouth, 
and to make the whole unintelligible. This is the laborious and 
vexatious inquest, that the soul must make after science. For 
truth, like a stately dame, will not be seen, nor show herself at 
the first visit, nor match with the understanding upon an ordi- 
nary courtship or address. Long and tedious attendances must 
be given, and the hardest fatigues endured and digested ; nor 
did ever the most pregnant wit in the world bring forth any 
thing great, lasting, and considerable, without some pain and 
travail, some pangs and throes before the delivery. 

Now all this that I have said, is to show the force of diligence 
in the investigation of truth, and jjarticularly of the noblest of 
all truths, which is that of religion. But then, as diligence is 
the great discoverer of truth, so is the will the great spring of 
diligence; for no man can heartily search after that which he is 
not very desirous to find. Diligence is to the understanding as 
the whetstone to the razor ; but the will is the hand that must 
apply one to the other. 

Wliat makes many men so strangely immerse themselves, 
some in chemical, and some in mathematical inquiries, but be- 
cause they strangely love the things they labour in? Their 
intent study gives them skill and proficiency ; and their particu- 
lar affection to these kinds of knowledge puts them upon such 
study. Accordingly, let there be but the same propensity and 
bent of will to religion, and there will be the same sedulity and 

n 2 


indefatigable industry in men's inquiry into it. And then, in 
the natiu'al course of things, the consequent of a sedulous seek- 
ing is finding, and the fruit of inquiry is information. 

(2.) A pious and well disposed will gives not only diligence, 
but also impartiality to the understanding, in its search into 
religion, which is as absolutely necessary to give success to our 
inquiries into truth as the former ; it being scarcely possible for 
that man to hit the mark, whose eye is still glancing upon some- 
thing beside it. Partiahty is properly the understanding's judg- 
ing according to the inclination of the will and affections, and 
not according to the exact truth of things, or the merits of the 
cause before it. Affection is still a briber of the judgment ; and 
it is hard for a man to admit a reason against the thing he loves, 
or to confess the force of an argument ao;ainst an interest. 

In this case he prevaricates with liis own understanding, and 
cannot seriously and sincerely set liis mind to consider the 
strength, to poise the weight, and to discern the evidence of the 
clearest and best argumentations, where they would conclude 
against the darling of liis desires. For still that beloved thing 
possesses, and even engrosses him, and, like a coloured glass be- 
fore his eyes, casts its own colour and tincture upon all the 
images and ideas of things that pass from the fancy to the un- 
derstanding; and so absolutely does it sway that, that if a 
strange irresistible evidence of some unacceptable truth should 
chance to surprise and force reason to assent to the premises, 
affection would yet step in at last, and make it quit the con- 

Upon which account, Soclnus and his followers state the rea- 
son of a man's belie^dng or embracing Chi-istianity upon the 
natural goodness or virtuous disposition of his mind, which they 
sometimes call naturalis probitas, and sometimes animus in virtu- 
tem pronus. For, say they, the whole doctrine of Chi'istianity 
teaches nothing but what is perfectly suitable to, and coincident 
with, the ruling jsrinciples; that a \drtuous and well-inclined 
man is acted by and with the main interest that he proposes to 
himself. So that, as soon as ever it is declared to such a one, 
he presently closes in, accepts, and comphes with it : as a pre- 
pared son eagerly takes in, and firmly retains, such seed or 
plants as particularly agree with it. 

With ordinary minds, such as much the greatest part of the 
world are, it is the suitableness, not the evidence of a truth, that 
makes it to be assented to. And it is seldom that any tlimg 
practically convinces a man, that does not jjlease him first. If 
you would be sure of him, you must inform and gratify him too. 
But now impartiahty strips the mind of prejudice and passion, 
keeps it right and even from the bias of interest and desire, and so 
presents it like a rasa tabula, equally disposed to the reception of 
all truth. So that the soul lies prepared, and open to entertain 

WHY Christ's doctrine was rejected. 101 

it, and prepossessed with nothing that can opi)osc, or thrust it 
out : for where diligence opens the door of the understanding, and 
hnpartlahty keeps it, truth is sure to find both an entrance, 
and a welcome too. 

And thus I have done with the fourth and last general thing 
proposed, and proved by argument: That a pious and well-dis- 
posed mind, attended with a readiness to obey the known will of 
God, is the surest and best means to enlighten the understanding 
to a belief of Cln-istlanlty. 

Now, from the foregoing particulars, by way of use, we may 
collect these two tilings. 

1. The true cause of that atheism, that scepticism, and ca- 
villing at religion, which we see, and have cause to lament in too 
many in these days. It is not from any thing weak or wanting 
in our religion, to support and enable it to look the strongest 
arguments, and the severest and most controlling reason, in the 
face : but men are atheistical, because they are first vicious ; and 
question the truth of Christianity, because they hate the prac- 
tice. And therefore, that they may seem to have some pretence 
and colour to sin on freely, and to surrender up themselves wholly 
to their sensuality, without any imputation vipon their judgment, 
and to quit their morals, without any discredit to their intellec- 
tuals ; they fly to several stale, trite, pitiful objections and cavils, 
some against religion in general, and some against Christianity 
in particular, and some against the very first principles of mo- 
rality, to give them some poor credit and countenance in the 
pursuit of their brutish courses. 

Few pi-actical errors in the world are embraced upon the stock 
of conviction, but inclination : for though indeed the judgment 
may err upon the account of weakness, yet where there is one 
error that enters in at this door, ten are let into it through the 
will ; that, for the most part, being set upon those things, Avhich 
truth is a direct obstacle to the enjoyment of; and where both 
cannot be had, a man Avill be sure to buy his enjoyment, though 
he pays down truth for the i)urchase. For, in this case the 
further from truth, the further from trouble ; since truth shows 
such a one Avhat he is unwilling to see, and tells him Avhat he 
hates to hear. They are the same beams that shine and en- 
lighten, and are apt to scorch too : and it is impossible for a man 
engaged in any wicked way, to have a clear understanding of it, 
and a quiet mind in it, together. 

But these sons of Epicurus, both for voluptuousness and Ix-re- 
ligion also, as it is hard to support the former without the latter, 
these, I say, rest not here ; but (if you will take them at their 
word) they must also pass for the only wits of the age : though 
greater argviments, I am sure, may be produced against this, 
than any they can allege against the most improbable article of 

102 I>R- SOUTH's sermons. QsEUJI. VI. 

Christianity. But heretofore the rate and standard of Avit was 
very different from what it is now-a-days. No man was then 
accounted a wit for speaking such things as deserved to have the 
tonoue cut out that spake them ; nor did any man pass for a 
philosopher, or a man of depth, for talking atheistically ; or a 
man of parts, for employing them against that God that gave 
them. For then the world was generally better inclined ; virtue 
Avas in so much reputation, as to be pretended to at least. And 
virtue, Avhether in a Cliristian or in an infidel, can have no in- 
terest to be served either by atheism or infidelity. 

For which cause, could we but prevail Avith the greatest de- 
bauchees amongst us to change their lives, Ave should find it no 
very hard matter to change their judgments. For notAvith- 
standing all their talk of reason and philosophy, which, God 
knows, they are deplorably strangers to ; and those unanswer- 
able doubts and difficulties, Avhich, over their cups or their cofiee, 
they pretend to have against Christianity ; persuade but the 
covetous man not to deify his money ; the proud man not to 
adore himself ; the lasciAaous man to throAV off his lewd amours ; 
the intemperate man to abandon liis revels ; and so for any other 
vice, that is apt to abuse and pervert the mind of man ; and I 
dare undertake, that all their giant-like objections against Chris- 
tian religion shall presently vanish and quit the field. For he 
that is a good man, is three quarters of his way toAvards the being 
a good Christian, Avheresoever he lives, or Avhatsoever he is 

2. In the next place, Ave learn from hence the most effectual 
Avays and means of proficiency and groAvth in the knowledge of 
the great and profound truths of religion, and how to make us 
all not only good Christians, but also expeit diA'ines. It is a 
knoAvledge, that men are not so much to study, as to live them- 
selves into : a knoAvledge that passes into the head through the 
heart. I have heard of some, that in their latter years, tlxrough 
the feebleness of their limbs, have been forced to study upon 
their knees : and I tliink it might Avell become the youngest and 
the strongest to do so too. Let them daily and incessantly pray 
to God for his grace : and if God gives grace, they may be sure 
that knoAvledge will not stay long behind : since it is the same 
spirit and principle that pui'ifies the heart, and clarifies the under- 
standing. Let all their inquiries into the deep and mysterious 
points of theology be begun and carried on with fervent petitions 
to God, that he Avould dispose their minds to direct all their 
skill and knowledge to the promotion of a good life, both in 
themselves and others ; that he Avould use all their noblest specu- 
lations, and most refined notions, only as instruments, to move 
and set to work the great principles of actions, the will and the 
affections; that he Avould convince them of the infinite vanity 
and uselessness of all that learning, that makes not the possessor 

WHY Christ's doctrine was itiiiKCTED. ]03 

of it .1 better man ; tliat he would keep them fruin those sins 
that may grieve and pi'ovoke Ms Holy Spirit, the fountain of all 
true light and knowledge, to withdraw from them, and to seal 
them up under darkness, bhndness, and stupidity of mind. For 
where the heart is bent upon, and held under the power of any 
vicious course, though Christ himself should take the contrary 
virtue for liis doctrine, and do a miracle before such a one's 
eyes, for its apylication, yet he would not practically gain his 
assent, but the result of all would end in a non i)ersuadebis 
etiamsi jjersuaseris. Few consider what a degree of sottishness 
and confirmed ignorance men may sin themselves into. 

This was the case of the Pharisees. And no doubt but this 
very consideration also gives us the true reason and full explica- 
tion of that notable and strange passage of scripture, in Luke 
xvi., and the last verse, that " if men will not hear Moses and 
the 231'ophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose 
from the dead." That is, where a strong, inveterate love of sin 
has made any doctrine or proposition wholly unsuitable to the 
heart ; no argimient or demonstration, no nor miracle Avhatso- 
ever, shall be able to bring the heart cordially to close Avith and 
receive it. Whereas, on the contrary, if the heart be piously 
disposed, the natural goodness of any doctrine is enough to vouch 
for the truth of it : for the suitableness of it will endear it to 
the will ; and, by endearing it to the will, Avill naturally sKde it 
into the assent also. For in morals, as well as in metaphysics, 
there is nothing really good, but has a truth commensurate to its 

The truths of Christ crucified are the Christian's philosophy, 
and a good life is the Christian's logic ; that great instrumental, 
introductive art that must guide the mind into the former. And 
Avhere a long course of piety, and close communion with God, 
has purged the heart, and rectified the will, and made all tilings 
ready for the reception of God's Spirit ; knowledge will break in 
upon such a soul, like the sun shining in his full might, with such 
a victorious light, that nothing shall be able to resist it. 

If now, at length, some should object here, that from what 
has been delivered, it will follow, that the most pious men are still 
the most knowing, Avhicli yet seems contrary to common expe- 
rience and observation ; I answer, that as to all things directly 
conducing and necessary to salvation, there is no doubt but they 
are so ; as the meanest common soldier, that has fought often in 
an army, has a truer and better knowledge of war, than he that 
has read and Avritten whole volumes of it, but never was in any 

Practical sciences are not to be learned but in the Avay of 
action. It is experience that must gi^^e knowledge in the Chris- 
tian profession, as well as in all others. And the knowledge 
drawn from experience is quite of another kind from that which 


flows from speculation or discourse. It is not the opinion, but 
the " path of the just," that the wisest of men tells us, " shines 
more and more unto a perfect day." The obedient, and the men 
of practice, are " those sons of light," that shall outgrow all their 
doubts and ignorances, that shall " ride upon these clouds," and 
triumph over their present imperfections, until persuasion pass 
into knowledge, and knowledge advance into assurance, and all 
come at length to be completed in the beatific vision, and a full 
fruition of those joys Avhich God has in reserve for them, whom 
by his grace he shall prepare for glory. 

To which God, infinitely wise, holy, and just, be rendered and 
ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, majesty, and dominion, 
both now and for evermore. Amen. 




' After the happy expiration of those times which had reformed so many 
churches to the ground, and in which men used to express their honour 
to God and their allegiance to their prince the same way, demohshing 
the palaces of the one, and the temples of the other ; it is now our 
glory and felicity, that God has changed men's tempers with the times, 
and made a spirit of building succeed a spirit of pulling down : by a 
miraculous revolution, reducing many from the head of a triumphant 
rebellion to their old condition of masons, smiths, and carpenters, that 
in this capacity they might repair what as colonels and captains they 
had ruined and defaced. 

But still it is strange to see any eccleslastial pile, not by ecclesiastical 
cost and influence, rising above ground ; especially in an age in which 
men's mouths are open against the Church, but their hands shut towards 
it ; an age in which, respecting the generality of men, we might as soon 
expect stones to be made bread, as to be made churches. 

But the more epidemical and prevailing this evil is, the more honour- 
able are those who stand and shine as exceptions from the common 
practice : and may such places, built for the divine worship, derive an 
honour and a blessing upon the head of the builders, as great and last- 
ing as the curse and infamy that never fails to rest upon the sacrilegious 
violators of them ; and a greater, I am sure I need not, I cannot wish. 



god's peculiar regard to places set apart rOR DIVIXE 


Psalm lxxxvii. 2. 

God hath loved the gates of Sion more than all the dwellings of 


The comparison here exhibited between the love God bore to 
Sion, the great place of liis solemn worship, and that which he 
bore to the other dwellings of Israel, imports, as all other com- 
parisons do in the sujjerior part of them, two things — difference 
and pre-eminence : and accordingly, I cannot more commodiously 
and naturally contrive the prosecution of these words, than by 
casting the sense of them into these two propositions : 

I. That God bears a different respect to places set apart and 
consecrated to his worshij), from what he bears to all other places 
designed to the uses of common life. 

II. That God prefers the worship paid him in such places, 
above that which is offered him in any other places whatsoever. 

I. As to the former of these, this difference of respect home hy 
God to such places, from what he bears to others, may be evinced 
these three several ways : 

1. By those eminent interposals of providence, both for the 
erecting and preserving of such places. 2. By those notable 
judgments shown by God upon the -^dolators of them. 3. Lastly, 
by declaring the ground and reason, why God shows such a differ- 
ent respect to those places, from what he manifests to others. Of 
all which in their order. 

1. First of aU then. Those eminent interposals of the divine 
providence for the erecting and preser\dng such places, will be 
one pregnant and strong argument to prove the difference of 
God's respect to them, and to others of common use. 

That providence that universally casts its eye over all the parts 
of the creation, is yet pleased more particularly to fasten it upon 
some. God made all the world, that he might be worshipped in 
some parts of the world : and therefore in the first and most early 
times of the church, what care did he manifest to have such 
places erected to his honour ? Jacob he admonished by a vision, 
as by a messenger from lieaven,, to build him an altar ; and then, 
what awe did Jacob express to it ! "How dreadful," says he, "is this 


l)lace ! this is none other but the house of God." What parti- 
cular inspirations were there upon Aholiab to fit him^ to woi-k 
about the sanctuary ! The Spirit of God was the surveyor, di- 
rector, and manager of the Avhole business. But, above all, how 
exact, and, as we may say with reverence, how nice was God 
about the building of the temple ! David, though a man of most 
intimate converse and acquaintance with God, and one Avho bore 
a kingly pre-eminence over others, no less in point of piety than 
of majesty, after he had made such rich, such vast, and almost 
incredible provision of materials for the building of the temple ; 
yet, because he had dipped his hands in blood, though but the 
l)lood of God's enemies, had the glory of that work taken out of 
them, and was not permitted to lay a stone in that sacred pile ; 
)3ut the whole work Avas entirely reserved for Solomon, a prince 
adorned with those parts of mind, and exalted by such a concur- 
rence of all prosperous events to make him glorious and magnifi- 
cent ; as if God had made it his business to build a Solomon, 
that Solomon might build him a house. To which, had not God 
bore a very different respect from what he bore to all other places, 
why might not David have been permitted to build God a temple, 
as well as to rear himself a palace ? Why might not he, who was 
so pious as to design, be also so prosperous as to finish it ? God 
must needs have set a more tlian ordinary esteem upon that 
which David, the man after his own heart, the darling of heaven, 
and the most flaming example of a vigorous love to God that 
ever was, was not thought fit to have a hand in it. 

And to proceed, when after a long tract of time, the sins of 
Israel had even unconsecrated and profaned that sacred edifice, 
and thereby robbed it of its only defence, the palladium of God's 
presence, so that the Assyrians laid it even with the ground ; yet 
after that a long captivity and affliction had made the Jews fit 
again for so great a privilege as a public place to worship God in, 
how did God put it into the heart, even of a heathen prince, to 
promote the building of a second temple ! How was the work 
undertaken and carried on amidst all the unlikelihoods and discou- 
raging circumstances imaginable ! the builders holding the sword 
in one hand, to defend the trowel working with the other; yet 
finished and completed it was, under the conduct and protection 
of a peculiar pi-ovidence, that made the instruments of that great 
design prevalent and victorious, and all those mountains of op- 
position to become plains before Zerubbabel. 

And lastly, when Herod the Great, whose magnificence served 
him instead of piety to prompt him to an action, if not in him 
religious, yet heroic at least, thought fit to pull down that temj^le, 
and to build one much more glorious, and fit for the Saviour of 
the world to apjaear and preach in. Josephus, in his fifteenth 
book of the Jewish Antiquities, and the fourteenth chapter, says, 
" That during all the time of its building, there fell not so much 


as a shower to interrupt the work ; but the rain still fell by night, 
that it might not retard the business of the day." If this were 
so, I am not of the number of those who can ascribe such great 
and strange passages to chance, or satisfy my reason in assigning 
any other cause of this, but the kindness of God himself to the 
place of his worship; making the common influences of heaven 
to stop their course, and pay a kind of homage to the rearing of 
so sacred a structure. Though I must confess, that David being 
prohibited, and Herod permitted to build God a temple, might 
seem strange, did not the absoluteness of God's good pleasure 
satisfy all sober minds of the reasonableness of God's proceedings, 
though never so strange and unaccountable. 

Add to all this, that the extraordinary manifestations of God's 
presence were still in the sanctuary : the cloud, the urim and 
thummim, and the oracular answers of God, were graces and 
prerogatives proper and peculiar to the sacredness of this place ; 
these were the dignities that made it, as it were, the presence- 
chamber of the Almighty, the room of audience, where he declared 
that he would receive and answer petitions from all places under 
heaven, and where he displayed his royalty and glory. There was 
no parlour or dining-room in all the dwellings of Jacob, that he 
vouchsafed the like privileges to. And moreover, how full are 
God's expressions to this purpose ! " Here have I placed my 
name, and here will I dwell, for I have a delight therein." 

But to evidence how different a respect God bears to things 
consecrated to his own worshiji, from what he bears to all other 
things, let that one eminent passage of Corah, Dathan, and 
Abiram, be proof beyond all exception ; in wliich, the censers of 
those Avretches, who, I am sure, could derive no sanctity to them 
from their own persons; yet, upon this account, that they had 
been consecrated by the offering incense in them, were, by God's 
special command, sequestered from all common use, and appoint- 
ed to be beaten into broad plates, and fastened as a covering upon 
the altar. Numb. xvi. 38, " The censers of these sinners against 
their own souls, let them make broad plates for a covering of the 
altar : for they offered them before the Lord, therefore they are 
hallowed." It seems this one single use left such an indelible sa- 
credness upon them, that neither the villany of the persons, nor 
the impiety of the design, could be a sufficient reason to unhal- 
low and degrade them to the same common use that other vessels 
may be applied to. And the argument holds equally good for 
consecration of places. The apostle would have no revelling or 
junketing upon the altar, which had been used, and by that use 
consecrated to the celebration of a more spiritual and divine re- 
past : " Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in ? or despise ye 
the church of God ?" says St. Paul, 1 Cor. xi. 22. It would 
have been no answer to have told the apostle. What ! is not the 
church stone and wood as well as other buildings ? and is there any 

god's regard to places op worship. 109 

such peculiar sanctity in this parcel of brick and mortar? and 
must God, who has declared himself " no respecter of persons," 
be now made a respecter of places ? No, this is the language of 
a more spirituaHzed and refined piety than the apostles and pri- 
mitive Christians were acquainted with. And thus much for the 
first argument, brought to prove the different respect that God 
bears to things and places consecrated and set apart to his own 
worship, from what he bears to others. 

2. The second argument for the proof of the same assertion, shall 
be taken from those remarkable judgments shown by God, upon 
the violators of things consecrated and set apart to holy uses. 

A coal, we know, snatched from the altar, once fired the nest 
of the eagle, the royal and commanding bird ; and so has sacri- 
lege consumed the famiHes of princes, broken sceptres, and de- 
stroyed kingdoms. We read how the victorious Phihstines were 
worsted by the captivated ark, which foraged their country more 
than a conquering army ; they were not able to cohabit with that 
holy thing ; it was like a plague in their bowels, and a curse in 
the midst of them ; so that they Avere forced to restore their 
prey, and to turn their triumphs into suppUcations. Poor Uzzah 
for but toucliing the ark, though out of care and zeal for its pre- 
servation, was struck dead with a blow from heaven : he had no 
right to touch it ; and therefore his very zeal was a sin, and liis 
care a usurpation ; nor could the purpose of his heart excuse 
the error of his hand. Nay, in the promulgation of the Mosaic 
law, if so much as a brute beast touched the mountain, the bow 
of vengeance was ready, and it was to be struck through with a 
dart, and to die a sacrifice for a fault it could not understand. 

But to give some higher and clearer instances of the divine 
judgments upon sacrilegious persons. In 1 Kings xiv. 26, we 
find Shishak, king of Egypt, spoiling and robbing Solomon's 
temple ; and that we may know what became of him, w^e must 
take notice that Josephus calls him Susac, and tells us that 
Herodotus calls him Sesostris ; and withal reports, that imme- 
diately after his return from this very expedition, such disastrous 
calamities befell his family, that he burnt two of his children him- 
self ; that his brother conspired against him ; and lastly, that his 
son, who succeeded him, was struck blind, yet not so blind, in his 
understanding at least, but that he saw the cause of all these mis- 
chiefs ; and, therefore, to redeem his father's sacrilege, gave more 
and richer things to temples, than his father had stolen from 
them : though, by the way, it may seem to be a strange method 
of repairing an injury done to the true God, by adorning the 
temples of the false. See the same sad effect of sacrilege in the 
great Nebuchadnezzar ; he plunders the temple of God, and we 
find the fatal doom that afterwards befell him ; he lost his king- 
dom, and by a new unheard-of judgment, was driven from the 
society and converse of men, to table with the beasts, and to 


graze with oxen ; the impiety and inhumanity of his sin making 
liim a fitter companion for them, than for those to whom rehgion 
is more natural than reason itself. And since it was liis un- 
happiness to transmit his sin, together with his kingdom, to his 
son, while Belshazzar w^as quaffing in the sacred vessels of the 
temple, which, in liis pride, he sent for to abuse with his impious 
sensuahty, he sees his fatal sentence, writ by the finger of God, 
in the very midst of his profane mirth. And he stays not long 
for the execution of it, that very night losing his kingdom and 
his Kfe too. And that which makes the story direct for our pur- 
pose is, that all this comes upon him for profaning those sacred 
vessels ; Grod himself tells us so much by the mouth of his pro- 
phet in Dan. v. 23, where tliis only sin is charged upon him, 
and particularly made the cause of his svidden and utter ruin. 

These were violators of the first temple ; and those that pro- 
faned and abused the second sped no better. And for this, take 
for instance that first-born of sin and sacrilege, Antiochus ; the 
story of whose profaning God's house you may read in the first 
book of Maccabees, chap. i. And you may read also at large 
what success he found after it, in the sixth chapter, wdiere the 
author tells us, that he never prospered afterwards in any tiling, 
but all his designs were frustrated, his captains slain, his armies 
defeated; and lastly, himself falls sick, and dies a miserable 
death ; and (wliich is most considerable as to the present business) 
wdien all these evils befell liim, his own conscience tells liim that 
it was even for tliis that he had most sacrilegiously pillaged and 
invaded God's house, 1 Mace. yi. 12, 13, "Now I remember," 
says he, " the evils I did at Jerusalem, how I took the vessels of 
gold and silver ; I perceive, therefore, that for this cause these 
evils" are come upon me ; and behold, I perish for grief in a 
strange land." The sinner's conscience is, for the most part, the 
best expositor of the mind of God, under any judgment or 

Take another notable instance in Nicanor, who piu'posed and 
threatened to burn the temple, 1 Mace. ^ii. 35; and a curse 
fights upon him presently after ; his great army is utterly ruined, 
he himself slain in it, and his head and right hand cut off", and 
hung up before Jerusalem. Where two things are remarkable 
in the text : 1. That he himself was first slain ; a thing that does 
not usually befall a general of an army. 2. That the Jews 
prayed against him to God, and desired God to destroy Nicanor, 
for the injury done to his sanctuary only, naming no sin else. 
And God ratified their prayers by the judgment they brought 
down upon the head of him whom they prayed against. God 
stopped his blasphemous mouth, and cut off his sacrilegious 
hand ; and made them teach the world what it was for the most 
potent sinner under heaven to threaten the almighty God, 
especially in his own house, for so was the temple. 

god's regard to places of worship. Ill 

But now, lest some sliovild puff at these instances, as being 
such as were under a different economy of religion, in which God 
was more tender of the shell and ceremonious part of liis wor- 
ship, and consequently not directly pertinent to ours ; therefore, 
to show that all profanation and invasion of things sacred, is an 
offence against the eternal law of nature, and not against any 
positive institution after a time to expire, we need not go many 
nations oflf^ nor many ages back, to see the vengeance of God 
upon some families, raised upon the ruins of churches, and en- 
riched with the spoils of sacrilege, gilded with the name of refor- 
mation. And, for the most part, so unhappy have been the 
purchasers of church lands, that the w^orld is not now to seek for 
an argument, from a long experience, to convince it, that though 
in such purchases, men have usually the cheapest pennyworths, 
yet they have not always the best bargains ; for the holy thing- 
has stuck fast to their sides hke a fatal shaft, and the stone has 
cried out of the consecrated w^alls they have lived within, for a 
judgment upon the head of the sacrilegious intruder ; and Heaven 
has heard the cry, and made good the curse. So that when the 
heir of a blasted family has risen up and promised fair, and per- 
haps flolu'ished for some time upon the stock of excellent parts 
and great favour ; yet at length a cross event has certainly met 
and stopped him in the career of his fortunes, so that he has ever 
after withered and declined, and in the end come to nothing, or 
to that wliich is worse. So certainly does that which some call 
blind superstition, take aim when it shoots a curse at the sacrile- 
gious person. But I shall not engage in the odious task of re- 
counting the families, which this sin has blasted with a curse ; 
only I shall give one eminent instance in some persons who had 
sacrilegiously procured the demolishing of some places consecrated 
to holy uses. 

And for this (to show the world that Papists can commit sac- 
rilege as freely as they can object it to Protestants) it shall be in 
that great cardinal and minister of state, Wolsey, who obtained 
leave of pope Clement the seventh to demolish forty religious 
houses ; wliich he did by the service of five men, to whose con- 
duct he committed the effecting of that business ; every one of 
which came to sad and fatal end. For the pope himself was ever 
after an unfortunate prince, Kome being twice taken and sacked 
in his reign, himself taken prisoner, and at length dying a 
miserable death. Wolsey, as it is known, incurred a premuim-e, 
forfeited his honour, estate, and life, w liich he ended, some say 
by poison, but certainly in great calamity. 

And for the five men employed by liim, two of them quarrelled, 
one of which was slain, and the other hanged for it ; the third 
drowned himself in a well ; the fourth, though rich, came at 
length to beg liis bread ; and the fifth was miserably stabbed to 
death at Dublin in Ireland. 

112 DR. south's sermons, £serm. vir. 

This was the tragical end of a knot of sacrilegious persons from 
highest to lowest. The consideration of which and the like 
passages, one would think, should make men keep their fingers 
off from the church's patrunony, though not out of love to the 
church, (which few men have,) yet at least out of love to them- 
selves, which, I suppose, few want. 

Nor is that instance in one of another religion to be passed 
over, (so near it is to the former passage of Nicanor,) of a com- 
mander in the parliament's rebel army, who coming to rifle and 
deface the cathedral at Lichfield, solemnly, at the head of his 
troops, begged of God to show some remarkable token of his 
approbation, or dislike, of the Avork they were going about. 
Immediately after which, looking out at a window, he was shot 
in the forehead by a deaf and dumb man ; and this was on St. 
Chad's day, the name of which saint that church bore, being 
dedicated to God in memory of the same. Where we see, that 
as he asked of God a sign, so God gave lum one, signing him in 
the forehead, and that with such a mark as he is like to be known 
by to all posterity. 

There is nothing that the united voice of all history proclaims 
so loud as the certain unfailing curse that has pursued and over- 
taken sacrilege. Make a catalogue of all the prosperous sacrile- 
gious persons that have been from the beginning of the world to 
this day, and I believe they will come within a very narrow com- 
pass, and be repeated much sooner than the alphabet. 

Religion claims a great interest in the world, even as great as 
its object God, and the souls of men. And since God has 
resolved not to alter the course of nature, and upon principles of 
nature religion will scarce be supported without the encourage- 
ment of the ministers of it ; Providence, where it loves a nation, 
concerns itself to own and assert the interest of religion by blast- 
ing the spoilers of religious persons and places. Many have gaped 
at the church revenues; but, before they could swallow them, 
have had their mouths stopped in the churchyard. 

And thus much for the second argument, to prove the different 
respect that God bears to things consecrated to holy uses; 
namely, liis signal judgments upon the sacrilegious violators 
of them. 

3. I descend now to the third and last thing proposed for the 
proof of the first proposition, which is, to assign the ground and 
reason why God shows such a concern for these things. Touch- 
ing which we are to observe, (1.) Negatively, that it is no worth 
or sanctity naturally inherent in the things themselves, that either 
does or can procure them this esteem from God ; for by nature 
all things have an equally common use. Nature freely and in- 
differently opens the bosom of the universe to all mankind ; and 
the very sanctum sanctorum had originally no more sacredness in 
it, than the valley of the son of Hinnom, or any other place in 

god's regard to places of worship. 113 

Judea. (2.) Positively, therefore, the sole ground and reason of 
this different esteem vouchsafed by God to consecrated things 
and places, is this, that he has the sole property of them. 

It is a known maxim, that in Deo sunt jura omnia ; and conse- 
quently, that he is the proprietor of all things, by that grand 
and transcendent right founded upon creation. Yet notwith- 
standing, he may be said to have a greater, because a sole pro- 
I^erty in some tilings, for that he pemiits not the use of them to 
men, to whom yet he has granted the free use of all other things. 
Now tliis i^roperty may be founded upon a double ground. 

Fu'st, God's own fixing upon, and institution of a place or 
thing to liis peculiar use. When he shall say to the sons of men, 
as he spoke to Adam concerning the forbidden fruit. Of all 
things and places that I have enriched the universe with, you 
may freely make use for your own occasions ; but as for this s})ot 
of ground, this person, this thing, I have selected and appropri- 
ated, I have enclosed it to myself and my own use ; and I will 
endure no sharer, no rival or companion in it : he that invades 
them, usurps, and shall bear the guilt of liis usurpation. Now, 
upon this account, the gates of Sion, and the tribe of Levi, l)e- 
came God's property. He laid his hand upon them, and said, 
" These are mine." 

Secondly, The other ground of God's sole property in any 
thing or place, is the gift, or rather the return of it made by man 
to God ; by which act he relinquishes and delivers back to God 
all his right to the use of that thing, which before had been 
freely granted liim by God. After which donation, there is an 
absolute change and alienation made of the property of the thing 
given, and that as to the use of it too ; which being so alienated, 
a man has no more to do with it, than with a thing bought with 
another's money, or got with the sweat of another's brow. 

And this is the ground of God's sole property in things, per- 
sons, and places, now under the gospel. Men by free gift con- 
sign over a place to the divine worship, and thereby have no 
more right to apply it to another use, than they have to make 
use of another man's goods. He that has devoted himself to the 
service of God in the Christian priesthood, has given himself to 
God, and so can no more dispose of himself in an another em- 
ployment, than he can dispose of a thing that he has sold or 
freely given away. Now in passing a thing away to another by 
the deed of gift, two things are required : 

1. A surrender on the giver's part, of all the property and 
right he has in the thing given. And to the making of a thing 
or place sacred, this surrender of it by its right owner is so 
necessary, that all the rites of consecration, used upon a place 
against the owner's will, and without his giving up his property, 
make not that place sacred, forasmuch as the property of it is 
not hereby altered ; and therefore, says the canonist. Qui sine 

VOL. I. I 


voluntate Dmdni consecrat, revera desecrat. The like judgment 
passed that learned bishop Synesius upon a place so consecrated : 
Oi/S' t£pov owSe iilv ocTiov riyovfiai. " I account it not," says he, 
" for any holy thing." 

For we must know, that consecration makes not a place sacred, 
any more than coronation makes a king ; but only solemnly de- 
clares it so. It is the gift of the owner of it to God, which 
makes it to be solely God's, and consequently sacred ; after which 
every violation of it is as really sacrilege, as to conspire against 
the king is treason before the solemnity of his coronation. And 
moreover, as consecration makes not a thing sacred without the 
owner's gift, so the owner's gift of itself alone makes a thing 
sacred without the ceremonies of consecration : for we know that 
tithes and lands given to God are never, and plate, vestments, and 
other sacred utensils are seldom consecrated; yet certain it is, 
that after the donation of them to the church, it is as really sac- 
rilege to steal, or alienate them from those sacred uses, to which 
they were dedicated by the donors, as it is to puU down a church, 
or turn it into a stable. 

2. As in order to the passing away a thing by gift, there is 
required a surrender of all right to it on liis part that gives, so 
there is required also an acceptation of it on his part to whom 
it is given : for giving being a relative action (and so requiring 
a correlative to answer it) ; giving on one part transfers no pro- 
perty, unless there be an accepting on the other ; for as volenti 
nonfit injuria, so in tliis case, nolenti nonfit heneficium. 

And if it be now asked, how God can be said to accept what 
we give, since we are not able to transact with him in person ; to 
this I answer, 1. That we may and do converse with God in 
person really, and to all the purposes of giving and receiving, 
though not visibly : for natural reason will evince, that God wiU 
receive testimonies of honour from liis creatures ; amongst which, 
the homage of oflPerings, and the parting with a right, is a very 
great one. And where a gift is suitable to the person to whom it 
is offered, and no refusal of it testified ; silence in that case (even 
amongst those who transact visibly and corporally with one an- 
other) is, by the genei-al voice of reason, r-eputed an acceptance : 
and therefore much more ought we to conclude that God accepts 
of a thing suitable for him to receive, and for us to give, where 
he does not declare his refusal and disallowance of it. But, 2. I 
add further. That we may transact with God in the person of 
his and Christ's substitute, the bishop, to whom the deed of gift 
ought, and uses to be delivered by the owner of the thing given, 
in a foriT^ial instrument, signed, sealed, and legally attested by 
witnesses, wherein he resigns up all his right and property in 
the thing to be consecrated : and the bishop is as really vicarius 
Christi to receive this from us in Clmst's behalf, as the Levitical 
priest was vicarius Dei to the Jews, to manage all transactions 
between God and them. 

god's kegard to places of worship. 115 

These two things therefore concurring, the gift of the owner, 
and God's acceptance of it, either immediately by himself, which 
we rationally presume, or mediately by the hand of the bishop, 
which is visibly done before us, is that which vests the sole pro- 
perty of a thing or place in God. If it be now asked, Of wdiat 
use then is consecration, if a thing were sacred before it ? I 
answer. Of very much ; even as much as coronation to a king, 
which confers no royal authority upon him, but by so solemn a 
declaration of it, imprints a deeper awe and reverence of it in 
the people's minds, a thing surely of no small moment. And, 
2. The bishop's solemn benediction and prayers to God for a 
blessing upon those wlio shall seek him in such sacred places, 
cannot but be supposed a direct and most eftectual means to 
procure a blessing from God upon those persons who shall address 
themselves to him there, as they ought to do. And surely, this 
also vouches the great reason of the episcopal consecration. 
Add to this, in the third place, that all who ever had any awfid 
sense of religion and religious matters (whether Jews or Chris- 
tians, or even heathens themselves) have ever used solemn dedi- 
cations and consecrations of things set apart and designed for 
divine worship ; which surely could never have been so univer- 
sally practised, had not right reason dictated the high expediency 
and great use of such practices. 

Eusebius, the earliest church historian, in the tenth book of 
his Ecclesiastical History, as also in the Life of Constantino, 
speaks of these consecrations of churches, as of things generally 
in use, and withal sets down those actions particvdarly of which 
they consisted, styling them GfOTroETretc ticfcXfjcrtac ^eaimovQ, " laws 
or customs of the church becoming God." What the Greek and 
Latin churches used to do, may be seen in their pontificals, con- 
taining the set forms for these consecrations ; though indeed, for 
these six or seven last centuries, full of many tedious, superfluous, 
and ridiculous fopperies ; setting aside all which, if also our 
litvirgy had a set form for the consecration of places, as it has of 
persons, perhaps it would be never the less perfect. Now, from 
what has been above discoursed of the ground of God's sole 
property in things set apart for his service, we come at length to 
see how all things given to the church, whether houses, or lands, 
or tithes, belong to churchmen ; they are but usyfructuarii, and 
have only the use of these things, the property and fee remain- 
ing wholly in God ; and consequently, the alienating of them is 
a robbing of God : Mai. iii. 8, 9, " Ye are cursed with a curse ; 
for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation, in tithes and 
offerings." If it was God that was robbed, it was God also that 
was the owner of what was taken away in the robbery : even our 
own common law speaks as much ; for so says our Magna Charta 
in the first chapter, Concessimus Den — quod ecclesia Ancjlicana 
libera erit, &c. Upon which words, that great lawyer, in liis In- 

I 2 


stitutes, comments thus : " When any thing is granted for God, 
it is deemed in law to be granted to God ; and whatsoever is 
granted to the church for his honour, and the maintenance of 
his service, is granted /br and to God." 

The same also appears from those forms of expression, in 
which the donation of sacred things usually ran : as Deo onmipo- 
tenti hac prcBsente charta donavimus, with the like. But most 
undeniably is this proved by this one argument : That in case a 
bishop should commit treason or felony, and thereby forfeit his 
estate, Avith his life; yet the lands of his bisho23ric become not 
forfeit, but remain still in the church, and pass entire to his suc- 
cessor : wliich sufficiently shows that they were none of his. 

It being therefore thus proved, that God is the sole proprietor 
of all sacred things or places ; I suppose his peculiar property in 
them is an abundantly pregnant reason of that diiferent respect 
that he bears to them. For is not the meum, and the separate 
property of a thing, the great cause of its endearment amongst 
all mankind? Does any one respect a conmion, as much as he 
does his garden ? or the gold that lies in the bowels of a mine, 
as much as that which he has in his purse ? 

I have now finished the first proposition drawn from the words ; 
namely, ' That God bears a different respect to places set apart 
and consecrated to liis worship, from what he bears to all other 
places designed to the uses of common life :' and also shown the 
reason why he does so. I proceed now to the second proposition ; 
which is, That God prefers the worship paid him in such places, 
above that which is offered him in any other places whatsoever ; 
and that for these reasons : 

1. Because such places are naturally apt to excite a greater 
reverence and devotion in the discharge of divine service, than 
places of common use. The place properly reminds a man of 
the business of the place, and strikes a kind of awe into the 
thoughts, when they reflect upon that great and sacred Majesty 
they use to treat and converse with there : they find the same 
holy consternation upon themselves, that Jacob did at his con- 
secrated Bethel, which he called " the gate of heaven :" and if 
such places are so, then surely a daily expectation at the gate 
is the readiest Avay to gain admittance into the house. 

It has been the advice of some spiritual persons, that such as 
were able should set apart some certain place in their dwellings 
for private devotions only, which if they constantly performed 
there, and notliing else, their very entrance into it would tell 
them what they were to do in it, and quickly make their 
chamber-thoughts their table-thoughts, and their jolly, worldly, 
but much more their sinful thoughts and purposes, fly out of 
their hearts. 

For is there any man (whose heart has not shaken off all sense 
of what is sacred) who finds himself no otherwise affected, when 

god's regard to places of woRsnip. 117 

he enters into a church, than when he enters his parlour or 
chamber ? If he does, for ought I know, he is fitter to be there 
always than in a church. 

The niind of man, even in spirituals, acts with a corporeal 
dependence, and so is helped or hindered in its operations, accord- 
ino- to the different quality of external objects that incur into the 
senses. And perhaps, sometimes the sight of the altar, and 
those decent preparations for the w^ork of devotion, may com- 
pose and recover the wandering mind much more effectually than 
a sermon, or a rational discourse : for these things, in a manner, 
preach to the eye, when the ear is dull, and will not hear ; and 
the eye dictates to the imagination, and that at last moves the 
affections. And if these little impulses set the great wheels of 
devotion on work, the largeness and height of that shall not at 
all be prejudiced by the smallness of its occasion. If the fire 
burns bright and vigorously, it is no matter by what means it 
was at first kindled ; there is the same force, and the same re- 
freshing virtue in it, kindled by a spark from a flint, as if it were 
kindled by a beam from the sun. 

I am far from thinking that these external things are either 
parts of our devotion, or by any strength in themselves direct 
causes of it; but the grace of God is pleased to move us by 
ways suitable to our nature, and to sanctify these sensible inferior 
helps to greater and higher purposes. And since God has placed 
the soul in a body, where it receives all things by the ministry of 
the outward senses, he would have us secure these cinque ports 
(as I may so call them) against the invasion of vain thoughts, 
by suggesting to them sucla objects as may prepossess them Avith 
the contrary. For God knows how hard a lesson devotion is, if 
the senses prompt one thing, when the heart is to utter another. 
And therefore let no man presume to think tliat he may present 
God with as acceptable a prayer in his shop, and much less in an 
ale-house or a tavern, as he may in a church or in his closet : 
unless he can rationally promise himself (which is impossible) that 
he shall find the same devout motions and impressions upon his 
spirit there, that he may here. 

What says David, in Psalm Ixxvii. 13 ? " Thy way, O God, is 
in the sanctuary." It is no doubt, but that holy person continued 
a strict and most pious communion with God, during his wander- 
ings upon the mountains and in the wilderness; but still he 
found in himself, that he had not those kindly, warm meltings 
upon his heart, those raptures and ravisliing transports of affec- 
tion, that he used to have in the fixed and solemn place of God's 
worship. See the first two verses of the 63rd Psalm, entitled, " A 
psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah." How 
emphatically and divinely does every word proclaim the truth 
that I have been speaking of! " O God," says he, " thou art my 
God, early will I seek thee : my soul thirst eth for thee, my flesh 


longetli for thee, in a dry and tliirsty land, where no water is ; to 
see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanc- 
tuary." Much different was his wish from that of our noncon- 
forming zealots now-a-days, wliich expresses itself in another 
kind of dialect ; as, When shall I enjoy God as I used to do at a 
conventicle? When shall I meet with those blessed breathings, 
those heavenly hummings and hawings, that I used to hear at a 
private meeting, and at the end of a table ? 

In all our worshippings of God, we return him but Avhat he 
first gives us : and therefore he prefers the service offered him in 
the sanctuary, because there h6 usually vouchsafes more helps to 
the piously disposed person, for the discharge of it. As we value 
the same kind of fruit grooving under one climate more than 
under another ; because under one it has a directer and a warmer 
influence from the sun, than under the other, which gives it 
both a better savour and a greater worth. 

And perhaps I should not want a further argument for the con- 
firmation of the truth discoursed of, if I should appeal to the 
exj)erience of many in this nation, w ho having been long bred to 
the decent way of divine service in the cathedrals of the church 
of England, were afterwards driven into foreign countries, where 
though they brought with them the same sincerity to church, yet 
perhaps they could not find the same enlargements and flowings 
out of spirit which they were wont to find here : especially in 
some countries, where their very religion smelt of the shoj) ; and 
their ruder and coarser methods of divine service seemed only 
adapted to the genius of trade and the designs of parsimony : 
though one would think, that parsimony in God's worship were 
the worst husbandry in the world, for fear God should propor- 
tion liis blessings to such devotions. 

2. The other reason why God prefers a worship paid him in 
places solemnly dedicated and set apart for that purpose, is, be- 
cause in such places it is a more direct service and testifica- 
tion of our homage to him. For surely, if I should have some- 
thing to ask of a great person, it were greater respect to wait 
upon him with my petition at his own house, than to desire him 
to come and receive it at mine. 

Set places and set hours for divine worship, as much as the 
laws of necessity and charity permit us to observe them, are but 
parts of that due reverence that we owe it : for he that is strict 
in observing these, declares to the world, that he accounts his at- 
tendance upon God his greatest and most important business : 
and surely, it is infinitely more reasonable that we should wait 
upon God, than God upon us. 

We shall still find, that when God was pleased to vouchsafe 
liis people . a meeting, he himself would prescribe the place. 
AVTien he commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only and beloved 
Isaac, the place of the offering was not left undetermined, and to 


the offerer's discretion : but in Gen. xxii. 2, " Get thee into the 
land of Moriah," says God, "and offer liim for a burnt-offering 
upon one of the mountains that I shall tell thee of." 

It was part of his sacrifice, not only what he should offer, but 
where. When we serve God in his own house, his service (as I 
may so say) leads all our other secular affairs in triumph after it. 
They are all made to stoop and bend the knee to prayer, as that 
does to the throne of grace. 

Thrice a year were the Israelites from all, even the remotest 
parts of Palestine, to go up to Jerusalem, there to worship, and 
pay their offerings at the temple. The great distance of some 
places from thence could not excuse the inhabitants from making 
their appearance there, which the Mosaic law exacted as indis- 

Whether or no they had coaches, to the temple they must go ; 
nor could it excuse them to plead God's omniscience, that he 
could equally see and hear them in any place ; nor yet their own 
good will and intentions, as if the readiness of their mind to go, 
might, forsooth, Avarrant their bodies to stay at home. Nor, 
lastly, could the real danger of leaving their dwellings to go up 
to the temple excuse their journey ; for they might very plausi- 
bly and very rationally have alleged, that during their absence 
their enemies round about them might take that advantage to 
invade their land. And therefore, to obviate this fear and ex- 
ception, which indeed was built upon so good ground, God makes 
them a promise, wliich certainly is as remarkable as any in the 
whole book of God, Exod. xxxiv. 24, " I will cast out the 
nations before thee ; neither shall any man desire thy land, when 
thou shalt go up to appear before the Lord thy God thrice in a 
year." Wliile they were appearing in God's house, God himself 
engages to keep and defend theirs, and that by Uttle less than a 
miracle, putting forth an overpowering work and influence upon 
the very hearts and wills of men, that when their opportunities 
should induce, their hearts should not serve them to annoy their 

For surely a rich land, guardless and undefended, must needs 
have been a double incitement, and such a one as might not only 
admit, but even invite the enemy. It was like a fruitful garden 
or a fair vineyard without a hedge, that quickens the appetite to 
enjoy so tempting, and withal so easy a pi'ize. But the great 
God, by ruling men's hearts, could by consequence hold their 
hands, and turn the very desu-es of interest and nature out of 
their conmion channel, to comply with the designs of his worship. 
But now, had not God set a very peculiar value upon the ser- 
vice paid him in his temple, surely he would not have thus, as it 
were, made himself his people's convoy, and exerted a super- 
natural work to secure them in their passage to it. And there- 
fore that eminent hero in religion, Daniel, when in the land of 

120 DK. south's sermons. |~SBUM. Vll. 

Ills captivity he used to pay his daily devotions to God, not being 
able to go to the temple, would at least look towards it, advance 
to it in wish and desire ; and so, in a manner, bring the temple 
to his prayers when he could not bring his prayers to that. 

And now, what have I to do more but to wish that all this 
discourse may have that blessed effect upon us, as to send us both 
to this and to all other solemn places of divine worship, with 
those three excellent ingredients of devotion, desire, reverence, 
and confidence? 

1. And first, for desire. We should come hither as to meet 
God in a place where he loves to meet us, and where (as Isaac 
did to his sons) he gives us blessings with embraces. Many fre- 
quent the gates of Sion, but is it because they love them ; and 
not rather because their interest forces them, much against their 
inclination, to endure them ? 

Do they hasten to their devotions with that ardour and quick- 
ness of mind that they would to a lewd play or a masquerade ? 
Or do they not rather come hither slowly, sit here uneasily, and 
depart desirously ? All which is but too evident a sign that men 
repair to the house of God, not as to a place of fruition, but of 
task and trouble ; not to enjoy, but to afflict themselves. 

2. We should come full of reverence to such sacred places ; 
md where there are affections of reverence, there will be pos- 
tures of reverence too. Witliin consecrated walls we are more 
directly under God's eye, who looks through and through every 
one that appears before him, and is too jealous a God to be 
affronted to his face. 

3. And lastly ; God's pecuHar property in such places should 
give us a confidence in our addresses to liim. Reverence and 
confidence are so far from being inconsistent, that they are the 
most direct and proper quahfications of a devout and filial 
approach to God. For where should we be so confident of a 
blessing, as in the place and element of blessings ; the place 
where God both promises and delights to dispense larger propor- 
tions of his favour, even for this purpose, that he may fix a mark 
of honour upon his sanctuary ; and so recommend and endear it 
to the sons of men, upon the stock of their own interest, as well 
as his glory ; who has declared himself " the high and the lofty 
One that inhabits eternity, and dwells not in houses made with 
men's hands, yet is pleased to be present in the assemblies of his 

To whom be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, 
might, majesty, and dominion, both now and for evermore. 





[Treached at Westminster Abbey, February 22, 1684-5.] 

Prov. XVI. 33. 

Tlie lot is cast into the lap ; but the tchole disposing of it is of 

the Lord. 

I CANNOT think myself engaged from these words to discourse 
of lots, as to their nature, use, and allowableness ; and that not 
only in matters of moment and business, but also of recreation ; 
which latter is, indeed, impugned by some, though better de- 
fended by others; but I shall fix only upon the design of the 
words, which seems to be a declaration of a divine perfection 
by a single instance ; a proof of the exactness and universality 
of God's providence from its influence upon a thing, of all others, 
the most casual and fortuitous, such as is the casting of lots. 

A lot is properly a casual event, purposely applied to the 
determination of some doubtful tiling. 

Some there are, who utterly proscribe the name of chance as a 
word of impious and profane signification : and, indeed, if it be 
taken by us in that sense in which it was used by the heathen, 
so as to make any thing casual in respect of God hmiself, their 
exception ought justly to be admitted. But to say a tiling is a 
chance, or casualty, as it relates to second causes, is not profane- 
ness, but a great truth ; as signifying no more, than that there 
are some events, besides the knowledge, purpose, expectation, 
and power of second agents : and for this very reason, because 
they are so, it is the royal prerogative of God liimself, to have 
all these loose, uneven, fickle uncertainties under his disposal. 

The subject therefore, that from hence we are naturally car- 
ried to the consideration of, is the admirable extent of the 
divine providence, in managing the most contingent passages of 
human affairs ; which that we may the better treat of, we will 
consider the result of a lot : — 

I. In reference to men. II. In reference to God. 

I. For the first of these, if we consider it as relating to men, 
who suspend the decision of some dubious case upon it, so we 
shall find that it naturally implies in it these two things : — 

1. Something future. 2. Something contingent. 

From which two qualifications these two things also follow : 


I. That it is absolutely out of the reach of man's knowledge. 
2. That it is equally out of liis power. 

This is most clear ; for otherwise, why are men in such cases 
doubtful and concerned, what the issue and result shovild be? 
for no man doubts of what he sees and knows ; nor is solicitous 
about the event of that which he has in his power to dispose of 
to what event he pleases. 

The light of man's understanding is but a short, diminutive, 
contracted light, and looks not beyond the present : he knows 
nothing future, but as it has some kind of presence in the stable, 
constant manner of operation belonging to its cause, by virtue 
of which we know, that if the fire continues for twenty years, it 
will certainly burn so long ; and that there will be summer, 
winter, and harvest, in their respective seasons : but whether 
God will continue the world till to-morrow or no, we cannot 
know by any certain argument, either from the nature of God 
or of the world. 

But when we look upon such things as relate to their imme- 
diate causes with a perfect indifference, so that in respect of 
them they equally may or may not be ; human reason can then, 
at the best, but conjecture what will be. And in some things, 
as here in the casting of lots, a man cannot, upon any ground of 
reason, bi'ing the event of them so much as under conjecture. 

The choice of man's will is indeed vmcertain, because in many 
things free ; but yet there are certain habits and principles in 
the soul, that have some kind of sway upon it, apt to bias it 
more one way than another; so that, upon the proposal of an 
agreeable object, it may rationally be conjectured, that a man's 
choice will rather incline him to accept than to refuse it. But 
when lots are shuffled together in a lap, urn, or pitcher, or a 
man bhndfold casts a die, what reason in the woi'ld can he have 
to presimie that he shall draAV a wliite stone rather than a black, 
or throw an ace rather than a sice ? Now, if these things are 
thus out of the compass of a man's knowledge, it will unavoid- 
ably follow, that they are also out of his power. For no man 
can govern or command that which he cannot possibly know ; 
since to dispose of a thing, implies both a knowledge of the 
thing to be disposed of, and of the end that it is to be disposed 
of to. 

And thus we have seen how a contingent event baffles man's 
knowledge, and evades his po^^'er. 

II. Let us now consider the same in respect of God; and so 
we shall find that it falls under, 

1. A certain knowledge. And, 2. A determining providence. 

1. First of all then, the most casual event of things, as it 
stands related to God, is comprehended by a certain knowledge. 
God, by reason of his eternal, infinite, and indivisible nature, is, 


by one single act of duration, present to all the successive por- 
tions of time, and consequently to all things successively exist- 
ing in them: Avhich eternal, indivisible act of his existence, 
makes all futures actually present to him ; and it is the presenti- 
ality of the object which founds the imerring certainty of his 
knowledge. For Avhatsoever is known, is some way or other 
present; and that Avhicli is present, cannot but be known by 
him who is omniscient. 

But I shall not insist upon these speculations, which when 
they are most refined serve only to show how imi:)ossible it is 
for us to have a clear and explicit notion of that Avhich is in- 
finite. Let it suffice us in general to acknowledge and adore 
the vast compass of God's omniscience, that it is a light shining 
into every dark corner, ripping up all secrets, and stedfastly 
grasping the greatest and most slij)pery uncertainties. As when 
we see the sun shine upon a river, though the waves of it move 
and roll this way and that way by the wind ; yet, for all their 
unsettledness, the sun strikes them with a direct and certain 
beam. Look upon things of the most accidental and mutable 
nature, accidental in their production, and mutable in their con- 
tinuance ; yet God's prescience of them is as certain in him, as 
the memory of them is or can be in us : he knows which way 
the lot and the die shall fall, as perfectly as if they were already 
cast. All futurities are naked before that all-seeing eye, the 
sight of which is no more liindered by distance of time, than the 
sight of an angel can be detennined by distance of place. 

2. As all contingencies are comprehended by a certain divine 
knowledge, so they are governed by as certain and steady a pro- 
vidence. There is no wandering out of the reach of this, no 
slipping out of the hands of omnipotence. God's hand is as 
steady as liis eye : and certainly, thus to reduce contingency to 
method, instability and chance itself to an unfailing rule and or- 
der, argues such a mind as is fit to govern the world ; and I am 
sure nothing less than such a one can. 

Now God may be said to bring the greatest casualties under 
his providence upon a twofold account : 

(1.) That he directs them to a certain end. (2.) Oftentimes 
to very weighty and great ends. 

(1.) And first of all, he directs them to a certain end. Provi- 
dence never shoots at rovers. There is an arrow that flies by 
night, as well as by day, and God is the person that shoots it, 
who can aim then as well as in the day. Things are not left to 
an equilibrium, to hover under an indifference whether they shall 
come to pass or not come to pass; but the whole train of events 
is laid beforehand, and all proceed by the rule and Ihnit of an 
antecedent degree : for otherwise, who could manage the affairs 
of the world, and govern the dependence of one event upon 
another, if that event happened at random, and was not cast into 


a certain method and relation to some foregoing purpose to di- 
rect it ? 

The reason why men are so short and weak in governing is, 
because most things fall out to them accidentally, and come not 
into any compHance with their preconceived ends, but they are 
forced to comply subsequently, and to strike in with things as 
they fall out, by postliminious after-applications of them to their 
purposes, or by framing their purposes to them. 

But now there is not the least thing that falls within the cog- 
nizance of man, but is directed by the counsel of God. " Not a 
hair can fall from our head, nor a sparrow to the ground, without 
the will of our heavenly Father." Such a universal superin- 
tendency has the eye and hand of Providence over all, even the 
most minute and inconsiderable things. 

>7ay, and sinful actions too are overruled to a certain issue ; 
even that horrid villany of the crucifixion of our Saviour was 
not a thing left to the disposal of chance and uncertainty ; but 
in Acts ii. 23, it is said of liim, that "he was delivered to the 
wicked hands of his murderers, by the determinate counsel and 
foreknowledge of God:" for surely the Son of God could not die 
by chance, nor the greatest thing that ever came to pass in nature 
be left to an undeterminate event. Is it imaginable, that the 
great means of the world's redemption should rest only in the 
number of possibilities, and hang so loose in respect of its futu- 
rition, as to leave the event in an equal poise, whether ever there 
should be such a thing or no ? Certainly the actions and proceed- 
ing of wise men rim in a much greater closeness and coherence 
with one another, than thus to drive at a casual issue, brought 
under no forecast or design. The pilot must intend some port 
before he steers his course, or he had as good leave his vessel to 
the direction of the winds and the government of the waves. 

Those that suspend the purposes of God and the resolves of 
an eternal mind upon the actions of the creature, and make God 
first wait and expect what the creature will do, and then frame 
his decrees and counsels accordingly, forget that he is the first 
cause of all things, and discourse most unphilosophically, absurdly, 
and imsuitably to the nature of an infinite being, whose influence 
in every motion must set the first wheel a going. He must still 
be the first agent ; and what he does he must will and intend to 
do before he does it ; and what he wills and intends once, he 
willed and intended from all eternity : it being grossly contrary 
to the very first notions we have of the infinite perfection of the 
divine nature, to state or suppose any new immanent act in God. 

The Stoics indeed held a fatality, and a fixed unalterable course 
of events ; but then they held also, that they fell out by a neces- 
sity emergent from and inherent in the things themselves, which 
God himself could not alter : so that they subjected God to the 
fatal chain of causes ; whereas they should have resolved the 


necessity of all inferior events into the free determination of God 
himself, who executes necessarily that which he first purposed 

In a word,- if we allow God to be the governor of the world, 
we cannot but grant, that he orders and disposes of all inferior 
events ; and if we allow him to be a wise and a rational governor, 
he cannot but direct them to a certain end. 

(2.) In the next place, he directs all these appearing casualties 
not only to certain, but also to very great ends. He that cre- 
ated something out of nothing, surely can raise great things out 
of small, and bring all the scattered and disordered passages of 
aifairs into a great, beautiful, and exact frame. Now this over- 
ruling, directing power of God may be considered. 

First, In reference to societies, or united bodies of men. Se- 
condly, In reference to particular persons. 

First. And first, for societies. God and nature do not prin- 
cipally concern themselves in the preservation of particulars, but 
of kinds and companies. Accordingly, we must allow Providence 
to be more intent and solicitous about nations and governments, 
than about any private interest whatsoever : upon which account 
it must needs have a pecuHar influence upon the erection, con- 
tinuance, and dissolution of every society. Wliich great effects 
it is strange to consider, by what small, inconsiderable means 
they are oftentimes brought about, and those so wholly unde- 
signed by such as are the immediate visible actors in them. 
Examples of this we have both in holy writ, and also in other 

And first, for those of the former sort. Let us reflect upon 
that strange and unparalleled story of Joseph and his brethren ; 
a story that seems to be made up of nothing else but chances and 
little contingencies, all directed to mighty ends. For was it not 
a mere chance that his father Jacob should send him to visit his 
brethren, just at that time that the IshmaeHtes were to pass by 
that way, and so his unnatural brethren take occasion to sell him 
to them, and they to carry him into Egypt ? and then that he 
should be cast into prison, and thereby brought at length to the 
knowledge of Pharaoh in that unUkely manner that he was ? 
Yet by a joint connection of every one of these casual events. 
Providence served itself in the preservation of a kingdom fr* im 
famine, and of the church, then circumscribed within the family 
of Jacob. Likewise by their sojourning in Egypt, he made way 
for their bondage there ; and their bondage, for a glorious de- 
liverance through those prodigious manifestations of the divine 
power, in the several plagues inflicted upon the Egyptians. It 
was hugely accidental, that Joash king of Israel, being com- 
manded by the prophet to " strike upon the ground," 2 Kings 
xiii.j should strike no oftener than just three times ; and yet we 
find there, that the fate of a kingdom depended upon it, and that 


his victories over Syria were concluded by that number. It was 
very casual, that the Levite and his concubine should linger so 
long, as to be forced to take up their lodging at Gibeah, as we 
read in Judges xix., and yet we know what a villany was occa- 
sioned by it, and what a civil war that drew after it, almost to 
the destruction of a whole tribe. 

And then for examples out of other histories, to hint a few of 
them. Perhaps there is none more remarkable, than that passage 
about Alexander the Great, in his famed expedition against 
Darius. When in Iris march towards him, chancing to bathe 
himself in the river Cydnus, tlirough the excessive coldness of 
those waters, he fell sick near unto death for three days ; dm-ing 
which short space the Persian army had advanced itself into the 
strait passages of Cilicia ; by which means Alexander with his 
small army was able to equal them under those disadvantages, 
and to fight and conquer them. Whereas, had not this stop been 
given him by that accidental sickness, his great courage and 
promptness of mind would, beyond all doubt, have carried him 
directly forward to the enemy, till he had met him in the vast 
open plains of Persia, where his paucity and small numbers 
would have been contemj^tible, and the Persian multitudes for- 
midable ; and, in all likelihood of reason, victorious. So that 
this one little accident of that prince's taking a fancy to bathe 
himself at that time, caused the interruption of his march ; and 
that interruption gave occasion to that great victory that founded 
the third monarchy of the world. In like manner, how much of 
casualty was there in the preservation of Romulus, as soon as 
born exposed by his uncle, and taken up and nourished by a 
shepherd ! (for the story of the she-wolf is a fable.) And yet in 
that one accident was laid the foundation of the fourth universal 

HoAv doubtful a case was it, whether Hannibal, after the 
battle of Cannoe, should march directly to Rome, or divert into 
Campania ! Certain it is, that ther^ was more reason for the 
former ; and he was a person that had sometimes the command 
of reason, as well as of regiments ; yet his reason deserted his 
conduct at that time ; and by not going to Rome, he gave occa- 
sion to those recruits of the Roman strength, that prevailed to 
the conquest of his country, and at length to the destruction of 
Carthage itself, one of the most puissant cities in the world. 

And to descend to occurrences within our own nation. How 
many strange accidents concurred in the whole business of king 
Henry the eighth's divorce ; yet we see Providence directed it 
and them to an entire change of the affairs and state of the whole 
kingdom. And surely there could not be a greater chance than 
that which brought to light the powder treason ; when Providence, 
as it were, snatched a king and kingdom out of the very jaws of 
death, only by the mistake of a word in the direction of a letter. 


But of all cases, in which little casualties produce great and 
strange effects, the chief is in war; upon the issues of which 
hangs the fortune of states and kingdoms. 

CiBsar, I am sure, whose great sagacity and conduct put his 
success as much out of the power of chance as human reason 
could well do ; yet upon occasion of a notable experiment that 
had like to have lost him his whole army at Dyrrachium, tells us 
the power of it in the third book of his Commentaries, De Bello 
Civili : " Fortuna quce plurimum potest, cum in aliis rebus, turn 
prcBcipue in hello, in parvis momentis mannas rerum mutationes 
efficity Nay, and a greater than Caasar, even the Spirit of God 
himself, in Eccles. ix. 11, expressly declares, "that the battle is 
not always to the strong." So that, upon this account, every 
warrior may in some sense be said to be a soldier of fortune ; 
and the best commanders to have a kind of lottery for their work, 
as, amongst us, they have for a rew^ard. For how often have 
whole armies been routed by a little mistake, or a sudden fear 
raised in the soldiers' minds upon some trivial ground or occasion ! 

Sometimes the misunderstanding of a word has scattered and 
destroyed those who have been even in possession of victory, and 
wholly turned the fortune of the day. A spark of fire or an 
unexpected gust of wind may ruin a navy. And sometimes 
a false, senseless report has spread so far, and sunk so deep into 
the people's minds, as to cause a tumult, and that tumult a re- 
bellion, and that rebellion has ended in the subversion of a 

And in the late war between the king and some of his rebel 
subjects, has it not sometimes been at an even cast, whether his 
army should march this way or that way ? Whereas, had it taken 
that way which actually it did not, things afterwards so fell out, 
that in very high probability of reason, it must have met with 
such success, as would have put a happy issue to that wretched 
war, and thereby have continued the crown upon that blessed 
prince's head, and his head upon his shoulders. Upon supposal 
of which events most of those sad and strange alterations that 
have since haj^pened would have been prevented, the ruin of 
many honest men hindered, the punishment of many great 
villains hastened, and the preferment of greater spoiled. 

Many passages happen in the world, much like that Uttle cloud 
in 1 Kings xviii., that appeared at first to Elijah's servant, " no 
bigger than a man's hand ;" but presently after grew and spread 
and blackened the face of the whole heaven, and then discharged 
itself in thunder, and rain, and a mighty tempest. So these 
accidents, when they first happen, seem but small and contemp- 
tible ; but by degrees they branch out, and widen themselves into 
such a numerous train of mischievous consequences, one drawing 
after it another, by a continued dependence and multiplication, 
that the plague becomes victorious and universal, and personal 
miscarriage determines in a national calamity. 

128 DR. SOUTH's sermons. QsERM. VIII. 

For who, that should view the small, despicable beginnings of 
some things and persons at first, could imagine or prognosticate 
those vast and stupendous increases of fortune that have after- 
wards followed them? 

Who, that had looked upon Agathocles first handling the clay, 
and making pots under his father, and afterwards turning robbei', 
could have thought, that from such a condition he should come 
to be king of Sicily ? 

Who, that had seen Massaniello, a poor fisherman, with his red 
cap and his angle, covdd have reckoned it possible to see such a 
pitiful thing, within a week after, shining in his cloth of gold, 
and with a word or a nod absolutely commanding the whole city 
of Naples? 

And who, that had beheld such a bankrupt beggarly fellow as 
Cromwell, first entering the parliament-house with a threadbare 
torn cloak, and a greasy hat, (and perhaps neither of them paid 
for,) could have suspected, that in the space of so few years, he 
should, by the murder of one king, and the banislunent of ano- 
ther, ascend the throne, be invested in the royal robes, and want 
nothing of the state of a king, but the changing of his hat into 
a crown ? 

It is, as it were, the sport of the Almighty, thus to baflfle 
and confound the sons of men by such events, as both cross the 
methods of their actings, and surpass the measure of their ex- 
pectations. For according to both these, men still suppose a 
gradual natural progress of things ; as that from great, tilings 
and persons should grow greater, till at length, by many steps 
and ascents, they come to be at the greatest ; not considering, 
that when Providence designs strange and mighty changes, it 
gives men wings instead of legs; and instead of climbing lei- 
surely, makes them at once fly to the top and height of great- 
ness and poAver : so that the world about them, looking up to 
those illustrious upstarts, scarce knows who or whence they 
were, nor they themselves where they are. 

It were infinite to insist upon particular instances ; histories 
are full of them, and experience seals to the truth of history. 

In the next place, let us consider, to what great purposes God 
directs these little casualties, with reference to particular persons, 
and those either public or private. 

1. And first for public persons, as princes. Was it not a mere 
accident, that Pharaoh's daughter met with Moses ? Yet it was 
a means to bring him up in the Egyptian court, then the school 
of all arts and policy, and so to fit him for that great and ardu- 
ous employment that God designed him to. For see upon what 
little hinges that great afiair turned ; for had either the child 
been cast out, or Pharaoh's daughter come down to the river but 
an hour sooner or later, or had that little vessel not been cast by 
the parents or carried by the water into that very place where 


it was, in all likelihood the child must have undergone the com- 
mon lot of the other Hebrew children, and been either starved 
or droAvned ; or, however, not advanced to such a peculiar height 
and happiness of condition. That Octavius Caesar should shift 
his tent (which he had never used to do before) just that very 
night that it hapj)ened to be taken by the enemy, was a mere 
casualty ; yet such a one as preserved a person who lived to 
establish a total alteration of government in the imperial city 
of the world. 

But we need not go far for a prince preserved by as strange a 
series of little contingencies, as ever were managed by the art of 
Providence to so great a purpose. 

There was but a hair's breadth between him and certain 
destruction for the space of many days ; for had the rebel forces 
gone one way, rather than another, or come but a little sooner to 
his liiding place, or but mistrusted something which they passed 
over (all which things might very easily have happened), we had 
not seen this face of things at this day ; but rebellion had been 
still enthroned, perjury and cruelty had reigned, majesty had 
been proscribed, religion extinguished, and both church and state 
thoroughly reformed and ruined with confusions, massacres, and 
a total desolation. 

On the contrary, when Providence designs judgment or de- 
struction to a prince, nobody knows by Avhat little, unusual, 
unregarded means the fatal bloAV shall reach him. If Ahab be 
designed for death, though a soldier in the enemy's army draws a 
blow at a venture ; yet the sure, unerring directions of Provi- 
dence shall carry it in a direct course to his heart, and there 
lodge the revenge of heaven. 

An old Avoman shall cast doAvn a stone from a Avail, and God 
shall send it to the head of Abimelech, and so sacrifice a king in 
the very head of his army. 

HoAv many warnings had Julius Cajsar of the fatal ides of 
March ! Whereupon sometimes he resolved not to go to the 
senate, and sometimes again he Avould go : and when at length 
he did go, in his very passage thither, one put into his hand a 
note of the Avhole conspiracy against him, together Avith all the 
names of the conspirators, desiring him to read it forthwith, and 
to remember the o;i\^er of it as lone; as he lived. But continual 
salutes and addresses entertaining him all the Avay, kept him 
from saAdng so great a life but Avith one glance of his eye upon 
the paper : till he came to the fatal place where he was stabbed, 
and died Avith the very means of preventing death in his hand. 
Henry the Second of France, by a splinter unhappily thrust 
into his eye at a solemn justing, Avas despatched and sent out of 
the Avorlcl, by a sad, but very accidental death. 

In a word, God has many ways to reap doAvn the grandees of 
the earth ; an arroAv, a buUet, a tile, a stone from a house, is 

VOL. T. K 


enough to do it : and besides all these ways, sometimes when he 
intends to bereave the world of a prince or an illustrious pei'son, 
he may cast him upon a bold, self-opinioned physician, worse than 
his distemper ; who shall dose, and bleed, and kill him secundum 
artem, and make a shift to cure him into his grave. 

In the last place, we will consider this dhecting influence of 
God, with reference to private persons ; and that, as touching 
things of nearest concernment to them. As, 

1. Their lives. 2. Their health. 3. Their reputation. 4. Their 
friendships. And, 5, and lastly, their employments or pre- 

And first for men's hves. Though these are things for which 
nature knows no price or ransom ; yet I appeal to universal 
experience, whether they have not, in many men, hung often- 
times upon a very slender thread, and the distance between them 
and death been very nice, and the escape w^onderful. There 
have been some, who upon a slight and perhaps groundless oc- 
casion, have gone out of a ship, or house, and the ship has sunk, 
and the house has fallen, immediately after their departure. 

He that, in a great wind, suspecting the strength of his house, 
betook himself to liis orchard, and walking there, was knocked on 
the head l)y a tree, falling through the fury of a sudden gust, 
wanted, but the advance of one or two steps, to have put him 
out of the way of that mortal blow. 

He that being subject to an apoplexy, used still to carry his 
remedy about him ; but, upon a time, shifting his clothes, and 
not taking that with him, chanced, upon that very day, to be 
surprised with a fit, and to die in it, certainly owed his death to 
a mere accident, to a little inadvertency and failure of memory. 
But not to recount too many particulars : may not every soldier, 
that comes alive out of the battle, pass for a li\dng monviment of a 
benign chance, and a happy providence ? For was he not in the 
nearest neighbourhood to death ? And might not the bullet, that 
perhaps razed his cheek, have as easily gone into his head ? and 
the sword that glanced upon his arm, with a little diversion have 
found the way to his heart ? But the workings of Providence are 
marvellous, and the methods secret and untraceable, by which it 
disposes of the lives of men. 

In like manner, for men's health, it is no less wonderful to 
consider to what strange casualties many sick persons oftentimes 
owe their recovery. Perhaps an unusual draught or morsel, or 
some accidental violence of motion, has removed that malady, 
that for many years has baffled the skill of all physicians. So 
that in effect, he is the best physician that has the best luck ; he 
prescribes, but it is chance that cures. 

That person that (being provoked by excessive pain) thxnist 
his dagger into his body, and thereby, instead of reaching his 
vitals, ojiened an imposthume, the unknown cause of all his pain. 


and so stabbed himself into perfect health and case, snrely had 
great reason to acknowledge chance for his chirurgeon, and Pro- 
vidence for the gnider of his hand. 

And then also for men's reputation ; and that either in point 
of wisdom or of wit. There is hardly any thing, which for 
the most part falls under a greater chance. If a man succeeds 
in any attempt, tliough undertaken with never so much folly and 
rashness, his success shall vouch him a politician, and good luck 
shall pass for deep contrivance : for give any one fortune, and he 
shall be thought a wise man, in spite of his heart ; nay, and of 
his head too. On the contrary, be a design never so artificially 
laid, and spun in the finest thread of policy, if it chances to be 
defeated by some cross accident, the man is then run down by 
a universal vogue : his counsels are derided, his prudence ques- 
tioned, and his person despised. 

Ahithophel was as great an oracle, and gave as good coimsel to 
Absalom, as ever he had given to David ; but not haAdng the 
good luck to be believed, and thereupon losing his former repute, 
he thought it high time to hang himself. And, on the other side, 
there have been some, wlio for several years have been fools with 
tolerable good reputation, and never discovered themselves to be 
so, till at length they attempted to be knaves also, but wanted 
art and dexterity. 

And as the repute of wisdom, so that of wit also, is very 
casual. Sometimes a lucky saying, or a pertinent reply, has 
procured an esteem of wit, to persons otherwise very shallow, 
and no ways accustomed to utter such things by any standing 
ability of mind ; so that if such a one should have the ill hap at 
any time to strike a man dead with a smart saying, it ought, in 
all reason and conscience, to be judged but a chance-medley ; 
the poor man, God knows, being noways guilty of any design 
of wit. 

Nay, even where there is a real stock of wit, yet the wittiest 
sayings and sentences will be found, in a great measure, the 
issues of chance, and nothing else but so many lucky hits of a 
roving fancy. 

For consult the acutest poets and speakers, and they will con- 
fess, that their quickest and most admired conceptions were such 
as darted into their minds like sudden flashes of lightning, they 
knew not how nor whence ; and not by any certain consequence 
or dependence of one thought upon another, as it is in matters 
of ratiocination. 

Moreover, sometimes a man's reputation rises or falls, as his 
memory serves him in a performance ; and yet there is nothing 
more fickle, slippery, and less under command, than this faculty. 
So that many, having used their utmost diligence to secure a 
faithful retention of the things or words committed to it, yet 
after all cannot certainly know where it will trip and fail them. 

K 2 


Any sudden diversion of the spirits, or the justling in of a tran- 
sient thought, is able to deface those little images of things ; and 
so breakino; the train that was laid in the mind, to leave a man in 
the lurch. And for the other part of memory, called reminis- 
cence, which is the retrieving of a thing at present forgot, or 
but confusedly remembered, by setting the mind to hunt over 
all its notions, and to ransack every little cell of the brain: 
while it is thus busied, how accidentally oftentimes does the 
thing sought for offer itself to the mind ! And by what small, 
petit hints does the mind catch hold of, and recover a vanishing 
notion ! 

In short, though wit and learning are certain and habitual 
perfections of the mind, yet the declaration of them (wliich alone 
brings the repute) is subject to a thousand hazards. So that 
every wit runs something the same risk with the astrologer, who, 
if his predictions come to pass, is ci'ied up to the stars, from 
whence he pretends to draw them; but if not, the astrologer 
himself grows more out of date than his almanack. 

And then, in the fourth place, for the friendships or enmities 
that a man contracts in the world ; than which surely there is 
nothing that has a more direct and potent influence upon the 
whole course of a man's life, whether as to happiness or misery ; 
yet chance has the ruling stroke in them all. 

A man by mere peradventure lights into company, possibly is 
driven into a house by a shower of rain for present shelter, and 
there begins an acquaintance with a person ; which acquaintance 
and endearment grows and continues, even when relations fail, 
and perhaps proves the support of his mind and of his fortunes 
to his dying day. 

And the like holds in enmities, which come much more easily 
than the other, A word unadvisedly spoken on the one side, or 
misunderstood on the other ; any the lest surmise of neglect ; 
sometimes a bare gesture ; nay, the very unsuitableness of one 
man's aspect to another man's fancy, has raised such an aversion 
to him, as in time has produced a perfect hatred of him; and 
that so strong and so tenacious, that it has never left vexing and 
troubling him, till perhaps at length it has worried him to his 
grave ; yea, and after death too, has pursued him in his surviving 
shadow, exercising the same tyranny upon his very name and 

It is hard to please men of some tempers, who indeed hardly 
know what will please themselves ; and yet if a man does not 
please them, which is ten thousand to one if he does, if they can 
but have power equal to their malice (as sometimes to plague 
the world, God lets them have), such a one must expect all the 
mischief that power and spite, lighting upon a base mind, can 
possibly do him. 

In the last place : as for men's employments and preferments. 



every man that sets forth into the world comes mto a great 
lottery, and draws some one certain profession to act, and live 
by, but knows not the fortune that will attend him in it. 

One man perhaps proves miserable in the study of the law, 
who might have flourished in that of physic or divinity. 
Another runs liis head against the pulpit, who might have been 
very serviceable to his country at the plough. And a third 
proves a very dull and heavy philosopher, who possibly would 
have made a good mechanic, and have done well enough at the 
useful pliilosophy of the spade or the anvil. 

Now let this man reflect upon the time Avhen all these several 
callings and professions were equally offered to his choice, and 
consider how indifferent it was once for him to have fixed upon 
any one of them, and what little accidents and considerations 
cast the balance of his choice rather one way than the other, 
and he will find how easily chance may throw a man upon a pro- 
fession, which all his diligence cannot make him fit for. 

And then for the preferments of the world, he that would 
reckon up all the accidents that they depend upon, may as well 
undei'take to count the sands, or to sum up infinity; so that 
greatness, as well as an estate, may, vipon this account, be pro- 
perly called a man's fortune, forasmuch as no man can state 
either the acquisition or preservation of it upon any certain 
rules ; every man, as well as the merchant, being here truly an 
adventurer. For the ways by which it is obtained are various, 
and frequently contrary : one man, by sneaking and flattering, 
comes to riches and honour (where it is in the power of fools 
to bestow them) ; upon observation wdiereof, another presently 
thinks to arrive to the same greatness by the very same means ; 
but striving like the ass, to court his master, jvist as the spaniel 
had done before him, instead of being stroked and made much 
of, he is only rated off and cudgelled for all his courtship. 

The source of men's preferments is most commonly the will, 
humour, and fancy of persons in powder ; whereupon, when a 
prince or grandee manifests a liking to such a thing, such an art, 
or such a pleasure, men generally set about to make themselves 
considerable for such tilings, and thereby, through his favour, to 
advance themselves ; and at length, when they have spent their 
whole time in them, and so are become fit for nothing else, that 
prince or grandee perhaps dies, and another succeeds him, quite 
of a different disposition, and inclining him to be pleased with 
quite different things ; whereupon these men's hopes, studies, 
and expectations, are wholly at an end. And besides, though the 
grandee whom they build upon should not die, or quit the stage, 
yet the same person does not always like the same things ; for 
age may alter his constitution, humour, or appetite ; or the cir- 
cumstances of his affairs may put him upon different courses and 
counsels ; every one of which accidents wholly alters the road to 


preferment. So that those who travel that road must be, like 
highwaymen, very dexterous in shifting the way upon every 
turn ; and yet their very doing so sometimes proves the means 
of their being found out, understood, and abhorred ; and for this 
very cause, that they Avho are ready to do any thing, are justly 
thought fit to be preferred to nothing. 

Caesar Borgia (base son to pope Alexander VI.) used to boast 
to his friend Macliiavel, that he had contrived his afiairs and 
greatness into such a posture of firmness, that whether his holy 
father lived or died, they could not but be secure. If he Hved, 
there could be no doubt of them ; and if he died, he laid his in- 
terest so, as to overrule the next election as he pleased. But all 
this while, the politician never thought or considered that he 
might in the mean time fall dangerously sick, and that sickness 
necessitate his removal from the court, and dvtring that his ab- 
sence, his father die, and so his interest decay, and his mortal 
enemy be chosen to the papacy, as indeed it fell out. So that for 
all his exact plot, down was he cast from all his greatness, and 
forced to end his days in a mean condition ; as it is pity but all 
such politic opiniators should. 

Upon much the like account, we find it once said of an emi- 
nent cardinal, by reason of his great and apparent hkelihood to 
step into St. Peter's chair, that in two conclaves he went in pope, 
and came out again cardinal. 

So much has chance the casting voice in the disposal of all the 
great things of the world. That which men call merit, is a mere 
nothing ; for even when persons of the greatest Avorth and merit 
are preferred, it is not their merit but their fortune that prefers 
them. And then, for that other so much admired thing called 
policy, it is but little better ; for when men have busied them- 
selves, and beat their brains never so much, the whole result both 
of their counsels and their fortunes is still at the mercy of an 
accident. And therefore, whosoever that man was, that said, that 
he had rather have a grain of fortvme than a pound of wisdom, 
as to the tilings of tliis life, spoke nothing but the voice of 
wisdom and great experience. 

And now I am far from affirming, that I have recounted all, 
or indeed the hundredth part of those casualties of human life, 
that may display the full compass of divine providence ; but 
surely I have reckoned up so many as sufficiently enforce the 
necessity of our reliance upon it, and that in opposition to two 
extremes that men are usually apt to fall into. 

1. Too much confidence and presumption in a prosperous 
estate. David, after his deliverances from Saul, and his victories 
over all his enemies round about him, in Ps. xxx. 7, 8, confesses, 
that this his prot<perity had raised liim to such a pitch of con- 
fidence, as to make him say, "' that he should never be moved ; 
God of his favour had made his hill so strong :" but presently he 


adds, almost in the very same breath, " Thou didst liide thy face, 
and I was troubled." 

The sun shines in his full brightness but the very moment 
before he passes under a cloud. Who knows what a day, what 
an hour, nay, what a minute may bring forth ? He who builds 
upon the present, builds upon the narrow compass of a point ; 
and where the foundation is so narrow, the superstructure cannot 
be liigh and strong too. 

Is a man confident of his present health and strength? Why, 
an unwholesome blast of air, a cold, or a surfeit taken by chance, 
may shake in pieces his hardy fabric, and (in spite of all his 
youth and vigour) send him, in the very flower of his years, 
pining and drooping, to his long home. Nay, he cannot, with 
any assurance, so much as step out of his doors, but, unless God 
commissions his protecting angel to bear him uj) in his hands, 
he may dash liis foot against a stone, and fall, and in that fall 
breathe his last. 

Or is a man confident of his estate, wealth, and power ? Why, 
let him read of those strange, unexpected dissolutions of the 
great monarchies and governments of the world ; governments 
that once made such a noise, and looked so big in the eyes of 
mankind, as being founded upon the deepest counsels and the 
strongest force ; and yet by some slight miscarriage or cross ac- 
cident, which let in ruin and desolation upon them at first, are 
now so utterly extinct, that nothing remains of them but a name, 
nor are there the least signs and traces of them to be found, but 
only in story. When, I say, he shall have well reflected uj)on 
all this, let him see what security he can promise himself in his 
own little personal domestic concerns, Avhich at the best have 
but the protection of the laws to guard and defend them, which, 
God knows, are far from being able to defend themselves. 

No man can rationally account liimself secure, unless he coidd 
command aU the chances of the world : but how should he com- 
mand them, when he cannot so much as number them ? Possi- 
bilities ai'c as infinite as God's power ; and whatsoever may come 
to pass, no man can certainly conclude shall not come to pass. 

People forget how little it is that they know, and how much 
less it is that they can do, when they grow confident upon any 
present state of things. There is no one enjoyment that a man 
pleases himself in, but is liable to be lost by ten thousand acci- 
dents wholly out of all mortal power either to foresee or to prevent. 
Reason allows none to be confident, but Him only who governs 
the world, who knows aU things, and can do all things, and there- 
fore can neither be surprised nor overpowered. 

2. The other extreme, which these considerations should arm 
the heart of man against, is, utter despondency of mind in a 
time of pressing adversity. 

As he who presumes steps into the throne of God ; so he that 

136 DB. south's sermon?. I^serm. viir. 

despairs limits an infinite power to a finite apprehension, and 
measures Providence by his own little contracted model. But 
the contrivances of Heaven are as much above our politics, as 
beyond our arithmetic. 

Of those many millions of casualties which we are not aware 
of, there is hardly one but God can make an instrument of our 
deliverance. And most men, Avho are at length delivered from 
any great distress indeed, find that they are so, by ways that they 
never thought of; ways above or beside their imagination. 

And therefore let no man, who owns the belief of a providence, 
grow desperate or forlorn under any calamity or strait Avhatso- 
ever; but compose the anguish of his thoughts, and rest his 
amazed spirits upon tliis one consideration, that he knows not 
xoMch icay the lot may fall, or what may happen to liim ; he com- 
prehends not those strange unaccountable methods by which 
Providence may dispose of him. 

In a word, to sum up all the foregoing discourse : since the 
interest of governments and nations, of princes and private per- 
sons, and that, both as to life and health, reputation and honour, 
friendships and enmities, employments and preferments, notwith- 
standing all the contrivance and power that human nature can 
exert about them, remain so wholly contingent, as to us ; surely aU 
the reason of mankind cannot suggest any solid ground of satis- 
faction, but in making that God our friend, who is the sole and 
absolute disposer of all these things : and in carrying a conscience 
so clear towards liim, as may encourage us with confidence to 
cast ourselves upon him; and in all casualties still to promise 
ourselves the best events from his Providence, to whom nothing 
is casual ; who constantly wills the truest happiness to those that 
trust in him, and works all things according to the counsel of 
that blessed will. 

To whom be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, 
might, majesty, and dominion, both now and for evermore. 




[Preached at Westminster Abbey, April 30, 1676.] 

1 CoR. III. 19. 

For the toisdom of this world is foolishness with God. 

" The wisdom of the world," so called by an Hebraism, fre- 
quent in tlie writings of this apostle, for " worldly wisdom," is 
taken in scripture in a double sense. 

1. For that sort of wisdom that consists in speculation, called, 
both by St. Paul, and the professors of it, philosophy ; the great 
idol of the learned part of the heathen world, and which divided 
it into so many sects and denominations, as Stoics, Peripatetics, 
Ej)icureans, and the like ; it was professed and owned by them 
for the grand rule of life, and certain guide to man's chief happi- 
ness. But for its utter insufficiency to make good so high an 
undertaking, we find it termed by the same apostle, Col. ii. 8, 
"vain philosophy," and 1 Tim. vi. 20, " science falsely so called ;" 
and a full account of its uselessness we have in this, 1 Cor. i. 21, 
where the apostle speaking of it, says, that " the world by 
wisdom knew not God." Such a worthy kind of wisdom is it, 
only making men accurately and laboriously ignorant of what 
they were most concerned to knoAV. 

2. The " wisdom of tliis world" is sometimes taken in scripture 
for such a wisdom as lies in practice, and goes commonly by the 
name of policy; and consists in a certain dexterity or art of 
managing business for a man's secular advantage : and so being 
indeed that ruling engine that governs the world, it both claims 
and finds as great a preeminence above all other kinds of know- 
ledge, as government is above contemplation, or the leading of 
an army above the making of syllogisms, or managing the little 
issues of a dispute. 

And so much is the very name and reputation of it afifected 
and valued by most men, that they can much rather brook their 
being reputed knaves, than for their honesty be accounted fools, 
as they easily may : knave, in the meantime, passing for a name 
of credit, where it is only another word for politician. 

Now this is the wisdom here intended in the text ; namely, 
that practical cunning that shows itself in political matters, and 
has in it really the mystery of a trade or craft. So that in this 
latter part of ver. 19, God is said to " take the wise in their own 


In short, it is a kind of trick or sleight, got not by study, but 
converse ; learned not from books, but men ; and those also, for 
the most part, the very worst of men of all sorts, ways, and pro- 
fessions. So that if it be in truth such a precious jewel as the 
world takes it for, yet, as precious as it is, we see that they are 
forced to rake it out of dunghills ; and accordingly, the apostle 
gives it a value suitable to its extract, branding it with the most 
degrading and ignominious imputation of foolishness. Which 
character running so cross to the general sense and vogue of 
mankind concerning it, who are still admiring, and even adoring 
it, as the mistress and queen regent of all other arts whatsoever, 
our business, in the following discourse, shall be to inquire into 
the reason of the apostle's passing so severe a remark upon it : 
and here, indeed, since we must allow it for an art, and since 
every art is properly an habitual knowledge of certain rules and 
maxims, by which a man is governed and directed in his actions, 
the prosecution of the words will most naturally lie in these two 
things : 

I. To show Avhat are those rules or principles of action upon 
which the policy or wisdom here condemned by the apostle does 

II. To show and demonstrate the folly and absurdity of them 
in relation to God, in whose account they receive a veiy different 
esthnate, from what they have in the world's. 

I. And for the first of these ; I shall set down four several 
rules or principles, which that jyolicy or ivisdom, ichich carries so 
great a vogue and value in the ivorld, governs its actions bg. 

1. The first is. That a man must maintain a constant continued 
course of dissimulation in the whole tenor of his behaviour. 
Where yet, Ave must observe, that dissimulation admits of a 
twofold acceptation: (1.) It may be taken for a bare concealment 
of one's mind ; in which sense we commonly say, that it is pru- 
dence to dissemble injuries ; that is, not always to declare our 
resentments of them ; and this must be allowed not only laAvful, 
but, in most of the affairs of human life, absolutely necessary : 
for certainly it can be no man's duty to write his heart ujjon his 
forehead, and to give all the inquisitive and mahcious world 
round about him a survey of those thoughts, which it is the pre- 
rogative of God only to know, and his own great interest to con- 
ceal. Nature gives every one a right to defend himself, and 
silence surely is a very innocent defence. 

(2.) Dissimulation is taken for a man's positive professing 
himself to be what indeed he is not, and what he resolves not to 
be ; and consequently it employs all the art and industry imagi- 
nable, to make good the disguise ; and by false appearances to 
render its designs the less visible, that so they may prove the 
more effectual; and this is the dissimulation here meant, which 


is the very groundwork of nil worldly jjolicy. The superstruc- 
ture of which being foUy, it is but reason that the foundation of 
it should be falsity. 

In the language of the scripture it is " damnable hypocrisy ;" 
but of those who neither believe scripture nor damnation, it is 
voted wisdom ; nay, the very primum mobile, or great wheel, 
upon which all the various arts of policy move and tvu'n ; the soul 
or spirit, which, as it were, animates and runs through all the 
particular designs and contrivances, by which the great masters 
of this mysterious wisdom turn about the world. So that he 
who hates his neighbour mortally, and wisely too, must profess 
all the dearness and friendship, all the readiness to serve him, as 
the phrase now is, that words and superficial actions can express. 

When he purposes one tiling, he must swear, and he, and damn 
himself with ten thousand protestations, that he designs the clean 
contrary. If he really intends to ruin and murder his prince, as 
Cromwell, an experienced artist in that perfidious and bloody 
faculty, once did ; he must weep, and call vipon God, use all the 
oaths and imprecations, all the sanctified perjuries, to persuade 
him that he resolves nothing but his safety, honour, and establish- 
ment, as the same grand exemplar of hypocrisy did before. 

If such persons project the ruin of church and state, they 
must appeal to God the searcher of aU hearts, that they are ready 
to sacrifice their dearest blood for the peace of the one, and the 
purity of the other. 

And now, if men will be prevailed upon so far as to renounce 
the sure and impartial judgments of sense and experience, and to 
believe that black is white, provided there be somebody to swear 
that it is so ; they shall not want arguments of tliis sort, good 
store, to convince them : there being knights of the post, and 
holy cheats enough in the world, to swear the truth of the 
broadest contradictions, and the highest impossibihties, where 
interest and pious frauds shall give them an extraordinary call 
to it. 

It is looked upon as a great piece of weakness and unfitness 
for business, forsooth, for a man to be so clear and open, as really 
to tliink, not only what he says, but what he swears ; and when 
he makes any promise, to have the least intent of performing it, 
but when his interest serves instead of veracity, and engages 
him rather to be true to another, than false to himself. He 
only now-a-days speaks like an oracle, who speaks tricks and 
ambiguities. Nothing is thought beautiful that is not painted ; 
so that, what between French fashions and Italian dissimula- 
tions, the old generous English spirit, which heretofore made 
this nation so great in the eyes of all the world round about it, 
seems utterly lost and extinct ; and we are degenerated into a 
mean, sharking, fallacious, undermining way of converse ; there 
being a snare and a trepan almost in every word we hear, and 


every action we see. Men speak with designs of mischief, and 
therefore they speak In the dark. In short, this seems to be the 
true Inward judgment of all our poHtlc sages, that speech was 
given to the ordinary sort of men, whereby to communicate their 
mind ; but to wise men, whereby to conceal it. 

2. The second ride or principle upon which this policy, or 
wisdom of the world, does proceed, is. That conscience and rehglou 
ought to lay no restraint upon men at all, when it lies opposite 
to the prosecution of their interest. 

The great patron and coryphaus of this tribe, Nicolas Machl- 
avel, laid down this for a master rule in his political scheme, That 
the show of religion was helpful to the politician, but the reahty 
of it hurtful and pernicious. Accordingly, having shown how the 
fonuer part of this maxim has been followed by these men in 
that first and fundamental principle of dissimulation already 
spoken to by us ; we come now to show further, that they can- 
not with more art dissemble the appearance of religion, than they 
can with ease lay aside the substance. 

The politician, whose very essence lies in this, that he be a 
person ready to do any thing that he apprehends for his advan- 
tage, must first of all be sure to put himself into a state of lilserty, 
■* as free and large as his principles ; and so to provide elbow-room 
enough for his conscience to lay about, and have its full play in. 
j^nd for that purpose, he must resolve to shake off all Inward 
aWe of religion, and by no means to suffer the liberty of his 
conscience to be enslaved, and brought imder the bondage of 
oJDserving oaths, or the narrowness of men's opinions, about 
turpe et honestum, which ought to vanish when they stand in 
competition with any solid, real good ; that is, in their judgment, 
such as concerns eating, or drinking, or taking money. 

Upon which account, these children of darkness seem excel- 
lently well to imitate the wisdom of those " children of light," 
the great illuminati of the late times, who professedly laid doAvn 
this as the basis of all their proceedings : that whatsoever they 
said or did for the present, under such a measure of light, should 
oblige them no longer, when a greater measure of light should 
give them other discoveries. 

And this principle they professed was of great use to them : 
as how could it be otherwise if it fell into skilful hands ? For 
since this light was to rest within them, and the judgment of it 
to remain wholly in themselves, they might safely and uncon- 
trollably pretend it greater or less, as their occasions should 
enlighten them. 

If a man has a prospect of a fair estate, and sees a way open 
to it, but it nmst be through fraud, violence, and oppression ; if 
he sees large preferments tendered lilm, but conditionally upon 
his doing base and wicked offices ; if he sees he may crush his 
enemy, but that it must be by slandering, belying, and giving 


him a secret blow ; and conscience shall here, according to its 
office, interpose, and protest the illegality and injustice of such 
actions, and the damnation that is expressly threatened to them 
by the word of God: the thorough-paced politician must pre- 
sently laugh at the squeamishness of liis conscience, and read it 
another lecture, and tell it, that just and unjust are but names 
grounded only upon opinion, and authorized by custom, by 
which the wise and the knoAving part of the Avorld serve them- 
selves upon the ignorant and easy ; and that, whatsoever fond 
priests may talk, there is no devil like an enemy in power, no 
damnation like being poor, and no hell like an empty purse; 
and, therefore, that those courses by Avhich a man comes to rid 
himself of these plagues, are ipso facto prudent, and consequently 
pious : the former being, Avith such wise men, the only measure 
of the latter. And the truth is, the late times of confusion, in 
which the heights and refinements of religion were professed, in 
conjunction with the practice of the most execrable villanies 
that were ever acted upon the eai*th ; and the weakness of our 
church discipline since its i*estoration, whereby it has been 
scarcely able to get any hold on men's consciences, and much 
less able to keep it ; and the great prevalence of that atheistical ^p 
doctrine of the Leviathan, and the unhappy propagation of ^'^ 
Erastianism ; these things, I say, Avith some others, have been ffT ^ 
the sad and fatal causes that have loosed the bands of conscience, ' 
and eaten out the very heart and sense of Christianity amongst 
us, to that degree, that there is now scarce any religious tie or 
restraint uj^on persons, but merely from those faint remainders 
of natural conscience, which God will be sure to keep alive upon 
the hearts of men, as long as they are men, for the great ends of 
his own providence, whether they will or no. So that, Avere it 
not for this sole obstacle, rehgion is not noAv so much in danger 
of being diA^ded and torn piecemeal by sects and factions, as of 
being at once devoured by atheism. Which being so, let none 
Avonder that irreligion is accounted policy, when it is groAvn 
even to a fashion ; and passes for Avit Avith some, as Avell as for 
Avisdom Avitli others. For certain it is, that advantage noAv sits 
in the room of conscience, and steers all ; and no man is esteemed 
any ways considerable for policy, Avho Avears religion otherwise 
than as a cloak ; that is, as such a garment as may both coA^er 
and keep him warm, and yet hang loose vipon him too. 

3. The tliird rule or principle, upon which tliis policy or Avis- 
dom of the Avorld proceeds is, that a man ought to make himself, 
and not the public, the chief, if not the sole end of all his 
actions. He is to be his own centre and circumference too: 
that is, to draAV all things to himself, and to extend nothing be- 
yond himself: he is to make the greater world serve the less ; 
and not only, not to love his neighbour as himself, but indeed to 
account none for his neighbour but himself. 


And, therefore, to die or suffer for his country, is not only 
exploded by him as a great paradox in politics, and fitter for 
poets to sing of than for wise men to practise ; but also to make 
himself so much as one penny t]ie poorer, or to forbear one base 
gain, to serve his prince, to secure a whole nation, or to credit a 
church, is judged by him a great want of experience, and a piece 
of romantic melancholy unbecoming a politician, who is still to 
look upon himself as his prince, his country, his church ; nay, 
and his God too. 

The general interest of the nation is nothing to him, but only 
that portion of it that he either does or wovild possess. It is not 
the rain that v/aters the whole earth, but that which falls into 
his own cistern that mu^st relieve him : not the common, but the 
enclosure, tliat must make him rich. 

Let the public sink or swim, so long as he can hold up his 
head above water : let the ship be cast away, if he may but have 
the benefit of the wreck : let the government be ruined by liis 
avarice, if by the same avarice he can scrape together so much 
as to make his peace, and maintain him as well under another : 
let foreigners invade and spoil the land, so long as he has a good 
estate in bank elsewhere. Peradventure, for all this, men may 
curse him as a covetous wretch, a traitor, and villain : but such 
words are to be looked upon only as the splendid declaimings of 
no^^ces and men of heat, who, Avhile they rail at his person, per- 
haps envy his fortune: or possibly of losers and malcontents, 
whose portion and inheritance is a freedom to speak. But a 
politician must be above words. Wealth, he knows, answers all ; 
and if it brings a storm upon him, will provide him also a coat 
to weather it out. 

That such thoughts and pi'inciples as these lie at the bottom 
of most men's actions ; at the bottom, do I say ? nay, sit at the 
top, and visibly hold the helm in the management of the weigh- 
tiest affairs of most nations, we need not much history, nor cu- 
riosity of observation, to convince us ; for though there have not 
been wanting such heretofore, as have practised these unworthy 
arts (forasmuch as there have been villains in all places and all 
ages), yet now-a-days they are owned above board ; and whereas 
men formerly had them in design, amongst us they are openly 
vouched, argued, and asserted in common discourse. 

But this, I confess, being a new, unexemplified kind of policy, 
scarce comes up to that which the apostle here condemns for the 
" wisdom of the world," but must pass rather for the wisdom of 
this particular age, which, as in most other things it stands alone, 
scorning the examples of all former ages ; so it has a way of 
policy and wisdom also peculiar to itself. 

4. The fourth and last principle, that I shall mention, upon 
which this wisdom of the Avorld proceeds, is this : 

That in showing kindness, or doing favours, no respect at all is 


to be had to friendship, gratitude, or sense of honour ; but that 
such favours are to be done only to the rich or potent, from 
whom a man may receive a further advantage, or to his enemies, 
from whom he may otherwise fear a miscliief. 

I have here mentioned gratitude, and sense of honour, being, 
as I may so speak, a man's civil conscience, prompting him to 
many things, upon the accounts of common decency, which reli- 
gion would otherwise bind him to, upon the score of duty. And 
it is sometimes found, that some, who have little or no reverence 
for rehgion, have yet those innate seeds and sparks of generosity, 
as make them scorn to do such tilings as would render them 
mean in the opinion of sober and worthy men ; and with such 
persons, shame is instead of piety, to restrain them from many 
base and degenerate practices. 

But now ovu* politician having baffled his greater conscience, 
must not be nonj)lussed with inferior obligations ; and having 
leaped over such mountains, at length poorly lie down before a 
mole-hill ; but he mvist add perfection to jDerfection ; and being 
past grace, endeavour, if need be, to be past shame too ; and ac- 
cordingly, he looks upon friendship, gratitude, and sense of honour, 
as terms of art to amuse and impose upon weak, undesigning 
minds : for an enemy's money, he thinks, may be made as good 
a friend as any ; and gratitude looks backward, but policy for- 
ward : and for sense of honour, if it impoverisheth a man, it is, 
in his esteem, neither honoiir nor sense. 

Whence it is, that now-a-days, only rich men or enemies are 
accounted the rational objects of benefaction. For to be kind to 
the former is traffic ; and in these times men present, just as they 
soil their ground, not that they love the dirt, but that they ex- 
pect a crop ; and for the latter, the politician well approves of the 
Indian's rehgion, in worshipping the devil, that he may do him 
no hurt,^ how much soever he hates him, and is hated by liim. 

But if a poor, old, decayed friend or relation, whose purse, 
whose house and heart had been formerly free and open to such 
a one, shall at length upon change of fortune come to him Avith 
hunger and rags, pleading his past services and his present wants, 
and so crave some relief of one, for the merit and memory of the 
other ; the pohtician, who imitates the serpent's wisdom, must 
turn his deaf ear too to all the insignificant charms of gratitude 
and^ honour, in behalf of such a bankrupt, undone friend, who 
having been already used, and now squeezed dry, is only fit to 
be cast aside. He must abhor gratitude as a worse kind of 
witchcraft, which only serves to conjure up the pale, meagre 
ghosts of dead, forgotten kindnesses, to haunt and trouble liim ; 
still respecting what is past ; whereas such wise men as himself, 
in such cases, account all that is past, to be also gone ; and know, 
that thei'e can be no gain in refunding, nor any profit in paying 
debts. The sole measure of all his courtesies is, what return 


they will make him, and what revenue they will bring him in. 
His expectations govern his charity. And we must not -s'ouch 
any man for an exact master in the rules of our modern policy, 
but such a one as hath brought himself so far to hate and despise 
the absurdity of being kind upon free cost, as, to use a known 
expression, not so much as to tell a friend what it is o'clock for 

And thus I have finished the first general head proposed from 
the text, and shown some of those rules, principles, and maxims, 
that this wisdom of the world acts by : I say, some of them, for 
I neither j)retend nor desh*e to know them all. 

II. I come now to the other general head, which is to show 
the folly and absurdity of these principles in relation to God. In 
order to which, we must observe, that foolishness, being properly 
a man's deviation from right reason in point of practice, must 
needs consist in one of these two things : 

1. In his pitching upon such an end as is unsuitable to his con- 
dition : or, 2. In his pitching upon means unsuitable to the com- 
passing of his end. 

There is folly enough in either of these ; and my business shall 
be to show, that such as act by the forementioned rules of 
worldly Avisdom, are eminently foolish upon both accounts. 

1. And first, for that sort of foolishness imputable to them ; 
namely, that a man, by following such principles, pitches upon 
that for his end, which no way suits his condition. 

Certain it is, and indeed self-evident, that " the wisdom of this 
world" looks no farther than this world. All its designs and 
efficacy terminate on tliis side heaven ; nor does policy so much as 
pretend to any more than to be the great art of raising a man to 
the plenties, glories, and grandeurs of the woi'ld. And if it ar- 
rives so far as to make a man rich, potent, and honourable, it has 
its end, and has done its utmost. But now, that a man cannot 
rationally make these things his end, will appear from these two 
considerations : 

(1.) That they reach not the measure of his duration or being ; 
the perpetuity of which surviving this mortal state, and shooting 
forth into the endless eternities of another world, must needs 
render a man infinitely miserable and forlorn, if he has no other 
comforts but what he must leave behind him in tliis. For no- 
thing can make a man happy, but that w^hich shall last as long as 
he lasts. And all these enjoyments are much too short for an 
immortal soul to stretch itselJP upon, which sliall persist in being, 
not only when profit, pleasure, and honour, but when time itself 
shall cease, and be no more. 

No man can transport his large retinue, his sumptuous fare, and 
his rich furniture, into another world. Nothing of all these 
things can continue with him then, but the memory of them. 


And surely, the bare remembrance that a man was formerly rich 
or great, cannot make liim at all happier there, where an infinite 
happiness or an infinite misery shall equally swallow up the sense 
of these poor felicities. It may indeed contribute to his misery, 
heighten the anguish, and sharjDcn the sting of conscience, and so 
add fury to the everlasting flames, when he shall reflect uj)on the 
abuse of all that wealth and greatness that the good providence 
of God had put as a price into his hand for worthier purposes, 
than to damn his nobler and better part, only to please and gra- 
tify his worse. But the politician has an answer ready for all 
these melancholy considerations ; that he, for his part, beHeves 
none of these things : as that there is either a heaven, or a hell, or 
an immortal soul. No, he is too great a friend to real knowledge, 
to take such troublesome assertions as these upon trust. Which 
if it be his behef, as no doubt it is, let liim for me continue in it 
still, and stay for its confutation in another world ; which if he 
can destroy by disbelieving, his infidehty will do him better ser- 
vice, than as yet he has any cause to presume that it can. But, 
(2.) Admitting that either these enjoyments were eternal, or 
the soul mortal ; and so, that one way or other they were com- 
mensurate to its duration : yet still they cannot be an end suit- 
able to a rational nature, forasmuch as they fill not the measure 
of its desires. The foundation of all man's unhappiness here on 
earth, is the great disproportion between his enjoyments and his 
apj)etites ; which appears evidently in this, that let a man have 
never so much, he is still desiring something or other more. 
Alexander, we know, was much troubled at the scantiness of na- 
ture itself, that there were no more worlds for him to disturb : 
and. In this respect, every man living has a soul as great as Alex- 
ander; and put under the same circumstances, would own the 
very same dissatisfactions. 

Now this is most certain, that in spiritual natures, so much as 
there is of desire, so much there is also of capacity to receive. I 
do not say, there is always a capacity to receive the very thing 
they desire ; for that may be impossible : but for the degree of 
happiness that they propose to themselves from that thing, this, I 
say, they are capable of. And as God is said to have " made man 
after his own image," so upon this quality he seems pecuharly to 
have stamped the resemblance of his infinity : for man seems as 
boundless in his desires, as God is in his being ; and therefore 
nothing but God himself can satisfy him. But the great in- 
equality of all things else to the appetites of a rational soul ap- 
pears yet further from this : that in all these worldly things, that 
a man pursues with the greatest eagerness and intention of mind 
imaginable, he finds not half the pleasure in the actual possession 
of them, that he proposed to himself in the expectation. Which 
shows, that there is a great cheat or lie which overspreads the 
VOL. I. L, 


world, while all things here below beguile men's expectations, 
and their expectations cheat their experience. 

Let this therefore be the first thing, in which " the foolishness 
of this worldly wisdom is manifest." Namely, that by it a man 
proposes to himself an end wholly unsuitable to his condition ; as 
bearing no proportion to the measure of his duration, or the vast- 
ness of his desires. 

2. The other thing, m which foolishness is seen, is a man's 
pitching upon means unsuitable to that which he has made his 

And here we will, for the present, suppose the things of the 
Avorld to have neither that shortness nor emptiness in them, that 
we have indeed proved them to have. But that they are so ade- 
quate to all the concerns of an intelligent nature, that they may 
be rationally fixed upon by men, as the ultimate end of all their 
designs ; yet the folly of this wisdom appears in this, that it sug- 
gests those means for the acquisition of these enjoyments, that 
are no ways fit to compass or acquire them, and that upon a 
double accoiuit. 

(1.) That they are in themselves unable and insufficient for : 
and, (2.) That they are frequently opposite to a successful attain- 
ment of them. 

(1.) And first for their insufficiency. Let politicians contrive 
as accurately, project as deeply, and pursue what they have thus 
contrived and projected, as diligently as it is possible for human 
wit and industry to do ; yet still the success of all depends upon 
the favour of an overruling hand. For God expressly claims it 
as a special part of his prerogative, to have the entire disposal of 
riches, honours, and whatsoever else is apt to command the desires 
of mankind here below, Deut. viii. 18, " It is the Lord thy Grod 
that giveth thee power to get wealth." And in 1 Sam. ii. 30, God 
peremptorily declares himself the sole fountain of honour, telling 
us, that " those that honour him shall be honoured ; and those 
that despise him shall be lightly esteemed." 

And then for dignities and preferments, we have the word of 
one, that could dispose of these things as much as kings could 
do, Prov. xxix. 26, where he tells us, that " many seek the ruler's 
favour ;" that is, apply themselves both to his interest and humour, 
with all the arts of flattery and obsequiousness, the surest and 
readiest ways, one would think, to advance a man ; and yet, after 
all, it follows in the next words, that " every man's judgment 
Cometh of the Lord." And that, whatsoever may be expected 
here, it is resolved only in the court of heaven, whether the man 
shall proceed favourite in the courts of princes, and after all his 
artificial attendance come to sit at the right hand, or be made a 
footstool. So that upon full trial of all the courses that policy 
could either devise or practise, the most experienced masters 
of it have been often forced to sit down Avith that complaint of 


the disciples, "We have toiled all night, and have caught no- 
thing." For do we not sometimes see that traitors can be out 
of favour, and knaves be beggars, and lose their estates, and 
be stripped of their offices, as well as honester men ? 

And why all this ? Surely, not always for want of craft to 
spy out where their game lay ; nor yet for Avant of irreligion 
to give them all the scope of ways lawful and unlawful, to 
prosecute their intentions; but because the providence of God 
strikes not in with them, but dashes and even dispirits all their 
endeavours, and makes their designs heartless and ineffectual. So 
that it is not their seeing tliis man, their belying another, nor 
their sneaking to a third, that shall he able to do their business, 
when the designs of Heaven will be served by their disappoint- 
ment. And this is the true cause why so many politic concep- 
tions, so elaborately formed and wrought, and grown at length 
ripe for delivery, do yet, in the issue, miscarry and prove abor- 
tive ; for, being come to the birth, the all-disposing providence 
of God denies them strength to bring forth. And thus the 
authors of them, having missed of their mighty aims, are fain to 
retreat with frustration and a baffle; and having played the 
knave unsuccessfully, to have the ill luck to pass for fools too. 

(2.) The means suggested by policy and worldly wisdom, for 
the attainment of these earthly enjoyments, are unfit for that 
purpose, not only upon the account of their insufficiency for, but 
also of their frequent opposition and contrariety to, the accom- 
plishment of such ends ; nothing being more usual, than for these 
unchristian fishers of men to be fatally caught in their own nets ; 
for does not the text expressly say, that *' God taketh the wise 
in their own craftiness ?" And has not our own experience suf- 
ficiently commented upon the text, when we have seen some by 
the very same ways, by which they had designed to rise uncon- 
trollably, and to clear off all obstructions before their ambition, 
to have directly procured their utter downfall, and to have broken 
their necks from the very ladder, by which they had thought to 
have climbed as high as their father Lucifer ; and there from the 
top of their greatness to have looked down with scorn upon aU 
below them ? Such persons are the proper and lawful objects of 
derision, forasmuch as God hunself laughs at them. 

Haman wanted nothing to complete his greatness but a gallows 
upon which to hang Mordecai ; but it mattered not for whom he 
provided the gallows, when Providence designed the rope for him. 

With what contempt does the apostle here, in the 20th verse 
of this third chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, repeat 
those words of the psalmist concerning all the fine artifices of 
Avorldly wisdom ; " The Lord," says he, " knoweth the thoughts 
of the wise, that they are vain." All their contrivances are but 
thin, slight, despicable things, and, for the most part, destructive 
of themselves ; nothing being more equal in justice, and indeed 

L 2 


more natural in the direct consequence and connexion of effects 
and causes, than for men wickedly wise to outwit themselves, and 
for such as wrestle with Providence to trip up their own heels. 

It is clear therefore, that the charge of this second sort of 
foolishness is made good upon worldly Avisdom ; for that having 
made men pitch upon an end unfit for their condition, it also 
makes them pitch upon means unfit to attain that end. And 
that both by reason of their inabihty for, and frequent con- 
trariety to, the bringing about such designs. 

This, I say, has been made good in the general ; but since par- 
ticulars convince with greater life and evidence, we will resume 
the forementioned principles of the pohtician, and show severally 
in each of them, how little efficacy they have to advance the 
practisers of them to the things they aspire to by them. 

1. And first, for his first principle. That the politician must 
maintain a constant, habitual dissimulation. Concerning which 
I shall lay down this as certain ; that dissimulation can be no 
further useful than it is concealed, forasmuch as no man will trust 
a known cheat : and it is also as certain, that as some men use 
dissimulation for their interest, so others have an interest strongly 
engaging them to use all the art and industry they can to find it 
out, and to assure themselves of the truth or falsehood of those 
with whom they deal ; which renders it infinitely hard, if not 
morally impossible, for a man to carry on a constant course of 
dissimulation without discovery. And being once discovered, it 
is not only no help, but the greatest impediment of action in the 
world. For since man is but of a very limited, narrow power in 
his own person, and consequently can effect no great matter, 
merely by his own personal strength, but as he acts in society 
and conjunction with others, without first engaging their trust ; 
and moreover, since men will trust no further than they j udge a 
person for his sincerity fit to be trusted ; it foUows, that a disco- 
vered dissembler can acliieve nothing great or considerable ; for 
not being able to gain men's trust, he cannot gain their con- 
currence, and so is left alone to act singly, and upon his own 
bottom ; and, while that is the sphere of his activity, all that he 
can do must needs be contemptible. We knoAV how successful 
the late usurper* was, while liis army believed him real in his zeal 
against kingship ; but, when they found out the imposture, upon 
his aspiring to the same himself, he was presently deserted and 
opposed by them, and never able to croAvn his usurped greatness 
with the adchtion of that title, which he so passionately tliirsted 
after. Add to this the judgment of as great an English author 
as ever wrote, with great confidence affirming, " That the ablest 
men that ever w^re, had all an openness and frankness of deal- 
ing ; and that, if at any time such did dissemble, their dissimu- 
lation took effect, merely in the strength of that reputation they 

* Cromwell. 


had gained by their veracity and clear dealing in the main." 
From all which it follows, that dissimulation can be of no further 
use to a man, than just to guard him within the compass of his 
own personal concerns ; which yet may be more easily, and not 
less effectually done, by that silence and reservedness that every 
man may innocently practise, Avithout the putting on of any con- 
trary disguise. 

2. The politician's second principle was, That conscience, or 
religion, ought never to stand between any man and his temporal 
advantage. Which indeed is properly atheism ; and, so far as it is 
practised, tends to the dissolution of society, the bond of which 
is religion. Forasmuch as a man's happiness or misery in his 
converse Avith other men depends chiefly upon their doing or not 
doing those things which human laws can take no cognizance of; 
such as are all actions capable of being done in secret, and out of 
the vicAV of mankind, Avhich yet have the greatest influence upon 
our neighbour, even in his nearest and dearest concerns. And if 
there be no inward sense of religion to awe men from the doing 
unjust actions, jjrovided they can do them without discovery, it 
is impossible for any man to sit secure or happy in the possession 
of any thing that he enjoys. And this inconvenience the poli- 
tician must expect from others, as Avell as they have felt from 
him, unless he thinks that he can engross this principle to his 
own practice, and that others cannot be as false and atheistical 
as himself, especially having had the advantage of his copy to 
write after. 

3. The third principle was, That the politician ought to make 
himself, and not the public, the chief, if not the sole end of all 
that he does. 

But here we shall quickly find, that the private spirit will 
prove as pernicious in temporals, as ever it did in spirituals. For 
while every particular member of the public provides singly and 
solely for itself, the several joints of the body politic do thereby 
separate and disunite, and so become unable to support the whole ; 
and when the pubHc interest once fails, let private interests sub- 
sist if they can, and prevent a universal ruin from involving in 
it particulars. It is not a man's wealth that can be sure to save 
him, if the enemy be Avise enough to refuse part of it tendered 
as a ransom, when it is as easy for him to destroy the OAvner, and 
to take the whole. When the hand finds itself Avell warmed and 
coA^ered, let it refuse the trouble of feeding the mouth or guarding 
the head, till the body be star\-ed or killed, and then we shall see 
hoAv it Avill fare with the hand. The Athenians, the Romans, 
and all other nations that grew great out of little or nothing, did 
so merely by the public-mindedness of particular persons ; and 
the same courses that first raised nations and governments must 
support them. So that, were there no such thing as religion, 
prudence were enough to enforce this upon all. 

150 DR. south's sermons. I^serm. tx. 

For our own parts, let us reflect upon our glorious and re- 
nowned English ancestors, men eminent in church and state, and 
we shall find that this Avas the method by wliich they preserved 
both. We have succeeded into their labours, and the fruits of 
them ; and it will both concern and become us to succeed also 
into their princij^les. For it is no man's duty to be safe or to be 
rich ; but I am sure it is the duty of every one to make good his 
trust. And it is a calamity to a whole nation, that any man 
should have a place or an employment more large and pubhc 
than his spirit. 

4. The fourth and last principle mentioned, was. That the 
politician must not, in doing kindnesses, consider his friends, but 
only gratify rich men or enemies. Which principle, as to that 
branch of it relating to enemies, was certainly first borrowed and 
fetched up from the very bottom of hell ; and uttered, no doubt, 
by particular and immediate inspu-ation of the devil. And yet, 
as much of the devil as it cari-ies in it, it neither is nor can be 
more villanous and detestable, than it is really silly, senseless, 
and impolitic. 

But to go over the several parts of this principle ; and to 
begin with the supposed policy of gratifying only the rich and 
opulent. Does our wise man think that the grandee, whom he 
so courts, does not see through all the little plots of his court- 
ship, as well as he himself; and so, at the same time, wliile he 
accepts the gift, laugh in his sleeve at the design, and despise 
the giver ? 

But, for the neglect of friends, as it is the height of baseness, 
so it can never be proved rational, till we prove the person using 
it omnipotent and self-sufficient, and svich as can never need any 
mortal assistance. But if he be a man, that is, a poor, weak 
creature, subject to change and misery, let him know that it is 
the friend only that God has made for the day of adversity, as 
the most suitable and sovereign help that humanity is cajmble of. 
And those, though in highest place, who slight and disoblige 
their friends, shall infallibly come to know the value of them, by 
having none when they shall most need them. 

That prince that maintains the reputation of a true, fast, 
generous friend, has an army always ready to fight for him, 
maintained to his hand without pay. 

As for the other part of this principle, that concerns the 
gratifying of enemies ; it is, to say no more, an absurdity parallel 
to the former. For when a man shall have done all he can, 
given all he has, to oblige an enemy, he shall find that he has 
armed him indeed, but not at all altered him. 

The scripture bids us "pray for our enemies," and "love ovu* 
enemies," but no where does it bid us trust our enemies ; nay, it 
strictly cautions us against it : Prov. xxvi. 25, " When he 
speaketh thee fair," says the text, " believe him not ; for there 


are yet seven abominations in his heart." And, in good earnest, 
it would be a rarity worth the seeing, could any one show us 
such a thing as a perfectly reconciled enemy. Men are generally 
credulous at first, and wall not take up this great and safe truth 
at the cost of other men's experience, till they come to be 
bitten into a sense of it by their own ; but are apt to take fair 
professions, fawning looks, treats, entertainments, visits, and such 
like pitiful stuff, for friendship and reconcilement, and so to 
admit the serpent into their bosom ; but let them come once to 
depend upon this new made friend, or reconciled enemy, in any 
great or real concern of life, and they shall find him "false as 
hell, and cruel as the grave." And I know nothing more to be 
wondered at, than that those reconcilements which are so difficvilt, 
and even next to impossible in the effect, should yet be so fre- 
quent in the attempt ; especially since the reason of this difficulty 
lies as deep as nature itself; which, after it has done an injury, 
will for ever be suspicious ; and I would fain see the man that 
can perfectly love the person whom he suspects. 

There is a noted story of Hector and Ajax, who having com- 
bated one another, ended that combat in a reconcilement, and 
testified that reconcilement by mutual presents ; Hector giving 
Ajax a sword, and Ajax presenting Hector with a belt. The 
consequence of which was, that Ajax slew himself with the sword 
given him by Hector, and Hector was dragged about the walls cf 
'1 roy by the belt given him by Ajax. Such are the gifts, such 
are the killino; kindnesses of reconciled enemies. 

Confident men may try what conclusions they please, at their 
own peril ; but let history be consulted, reason heard, and ex- 
perience called in to speak impartially what it has found, and I 
believe they wull all wit^ one voice declare, that whatsoever the 
gi'ace of God may do in the miraculous change of men's hearts ; 
yet, according to the common methods of the world, a man may 
as well expect to make the devil himself his friend, as an enemy 
that has given him the first blow. 

And thus I have gone over the two general heads proposed 
from the words, and shown both what those principles are, upon 
Avhich this wisdom of the world does proceed ; and also wherein 
the folly and absurdity of them does consist. 

And now into what can we more naturally improve the whole 
foregoing discourse, than into that practical inference of our 
apostle, in the verse before the text ? that " if any man desires 
the reputation of wisdom, he should become a fool, that he may 
be wise ;" that is, a fool to the woi'ld, that he may be wise to 

Let us not be ashamed of the folly of being sincere, and with- 
out guile ; without traps and snares in our converse ; of being 
fearful to build our estates upon the ruin of our consciences; 
of preferring the public good before our OAvn private emolument ; 

152 1>R. SOUTh's SJiRMONS. [|sERM. IX. 

and lastly, of being true to all the offices of friendship, the obli- 
gations of which are sacred, and will certainly be exacted of us 
by the great Judge of all our actions. I say, let us not blush to 
be found guilty of all these foUies, as some account them, rather 
than to be expert in that kind of wisdom, that God himself, the 
great fountain of wisdom, has pronounced to be " earthly, sensual, 
deviUsh;" and of the wretched absurdity of wliich all histories, 
both ecclesiastical and civil, have given us such pregnant and 
convincing examples. 

Keflect upon Ahithophel, Haman, Sejanus, Caesar Borgia, and 
other such masters of the arts of pohcy, who thought they had 
fixed themselves upon so sure a bottom, that they might even 
defy and dare Providence to the face ; and yet how did God 
bring an absolute disappointment, like one great blot, over all 
their fine, artificial contrivances? Every one of those mighty 
and profound sages coming to a miserable and disastrous end. 

The consideration of which, and the like passages, one would 
think, should make men grow weary of dodging and showing 
tricks with God in their own crooked ways ; and even force them 
to acknowledge it for the surest and most unfaihng prudence, 
whoUy to commit their persons and concerns to the wise and 
good providence of God, in the strait and open ways of his own 

Who, we may be confident, is more tenderly concerned for the 
good of those that traly fear and serve him, than it is possible 
for the most selfish of men to be concerned for themselves ; and 
who, in all the troubles and disturbances, all the cross, difficult, 
and perplexing passages that can fall out, will be sure to guide 
all to this happy issue, " that all things shall work together for 
good to those that love God." 

To which God, infinitely wise, holy, and just, be rendered and 
ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, majesty, and dominion, 
both now and for evermore. Amen. 




[Preached at Christ Church, Oxon, before the University, May 3, 1685.] 

2 COK. VIII. 12. 

For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that 
a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. 

In dealing with men's consciences, for the taking them off 
from sin, I know nothing of so direct and efficacious an influence, 
as the right stating of those general rules and j)rinciples of 
actions, that men are apt to guide their lives and consciences by : 
for if these be true, and withal rightly applied, men must needs 
proceed upon firm and safe grounds ; but if either false in them- 
selves, or not right in their particidar application, the whole course 
that men are thereby engaged in, being founded in sin and error, 
must needs lead to, and at length end in death and confusion ; 
there being, as the wise man tells us, " a way that may seem 
right in a man's own eyes, when, nevertheless, the end of that 
way is death." 

Now as amongst these principles or rules of action, the pre- 
tences of the Spirit, and of tenderness of conscience, and the 
like, have been the late grand artifices by which crafty and de- 
signing hypocrites have so much abused the world ; so I shall 
now instance in another of no less note, by which the generaUty 
of men are as apt to abuse themselves : and that is a certain 
rule or sentence got ahnost into every man's mouth, ' that God 
accepts the will for the deed.' A principle, as usually applied, 
of less malice, I confess ; but, considering the easiness, and 
withal the fatality of the delusion, of more mischief than the 

And this I shall endeavour to search into and lay open in the 
following discourse. 

The words hold forth a general rule or proposition dehvered 
upon a particular occasion : which was, the apostle's exhorting 
the Corinthians to a holy and generous emulation of the charity 
of the Macedonians, in contributing freely to the relief of the 
poor saints at Jerusalem : upon this great encouragement, that 
in all such works of charity, it is the will that gives worth to the 
oblation, and, as to God's acceptance, sets the poorest giver upon 
the same level with the richest. Nor is this all ; but so perfectly 
does the value of all charitable acts take its measure and pro- 

154 DR. south's sermons. ^SERM. X. 

portion from the will and from the fulness of the heart, rather 
than that of the hand, that a lesser supply may be oftentimes a 
greater charity ; and the widow's mite, in the balance of the 
sanctuary, outweigh the shekels, and perhaps the talents of the 
most opulent and wealthy ; the all and utmost of the one being 
certainly a nobler alms, than the superfluities of the other : and 
all this upon the account of the great rule here set down in the 
text : That in all transactions between God and man, whereso- 
ever there is a full resolution, drift, and purpose of will to please 
God, there what a man can do, shall by virtue thereof be ac- 
cepted ; and what he cannot do, shall not be required. From 
whence these two propositions, in sense and design much the 
same, do naturally residt. 

I. The first of them expressed in the words ; to wit, that God 
accepts the will, where there is no power to perform. 

II. The other of them unplied ; namely, that where there is 
a power to perform, God does not accept the will. 

Of all the spiritual tricks and legerdemain, by which men are 
apt to shift off their duty, and to impose upon their own souls, 
there is none so common, and of so fatal an import, as these two ; 
the plea of a good intention, and the plea of a good Avill. One 
or both of them being used by men, ahnost at every turn, to 
elude the precept, to put God off with something instead of 
obedience, and so, in effect, to outwit him whom they are called 
to obey. They are certainly two of the most effectual instru- 
ments and engines in the devil's hands, to wind and turn the 
souls of men by, to whatsoever he pleases. For, 

1. The plea of a good intention will serve to sanctify and 
authorize the very worst of actions. The proof of which is but 
too full and manifest, from that lewd and scandalous doctrine of 
the Jesuits concerning the direction of the intention, and like- 
wise from the whole manage of the late accursed rebellion. In 
which it was this insolent and impudent pretence, that em- 
boldened the worst of men to wade through the blood of the 
best of kings, and the loyalest of subjects ; namely, that in all 
that risk of villany, "their hearts," forsooth, " were right towards 
God ;" and that all their plunder and rapine was for nothing else, 
but to place Christ on his throne, and to establish amongst us 
the power of godliness, and the purity of the gospel, by a fur- 
ther reformation (as the cant goes) of a church, which had but 
too much felt the meaning of that word before. 

But such persons consider not, that though an ill intention is 
certainly sufficient to spoil and corrupt an act in itself materially 
good ; yet no good intention whatsoever can rectify or infuse a 
moral goodness into an act otherwise evil. To come to church, 
is no doubt an act in itseli* materially good : yet he who does it 
with an ill intention, comes to God's house upon the de^dl's 
errand; and the whole act is thereby rendered absolutely evil 


and detestable before God. But, on the other side; if it were 
possible for a man to intend well, while he does ill ; yet no such 
intention, though never so good, can make that man steal, lie, or 
murder with a good conscience, or convert a wicked action into 
a good. 

For these things are against the nature of morality ; in which 
nothing is or can be really good, without a universal concur- 
rence of all the principles and ingredients requisite to a moral 
action ; though the failure of any one of them will imjorint a 
malignity upon that act, which, in spite of all the other requisite 
ingredients, shall stamp it absolutely evil, and corrupt .t past 
the cure of a good intention. 

And thus, as I have shown, that the plea of a good intention 
is used by men to warrant and patronize the most villanous and 
wicked actions ; so, in the next place, the plea of a good will 
will be found equally efficacious to supersede, and take o f the 
necessity of all holy and good actions. For stiU, as I have ob- 
served, the great art of the devil, and the princij^al deceit of the 
heart, is, to put a trick upon the command, and to keep fair with 
God himself, Avhile men fall foul upon his laws. For both law 
and gospel call aloud for active obedience, and such a piety as 
takes not up either with faint notions, or idle insignificant incli- 
nations, but such a one as shows itself in the solid instances of 
practice and jierformance. For, "do this and live," saith the 
law, Luke x. 21 ; and, " if ye know these things, happy are ye 
if ye do them," says the gospel, John xiii. 17 ; and, "not every 
one that saith. Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of 
heaven ; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in 
heaven," Matt. vii. 21 ; and, "let no man deceive you; he that 
doeth righteousness is righteous," 1 John iii. 7, with innumerable 
more such places. All of them terrible and severe injunctions 
of practice, and equally severe obligations to it. 

But then in comes the benign latitude of the doctrine of good 
will, and cuts asunder all these hard, pinching cords ; and tells 
you, that if this be but piously and well inclined, if the bent of 
the spirit, as some call it, be towards God and goodness, God 
accepts of this above, nay, instead of all external works ; those 
being but the shell or husk, this the kernel, the quintessence, 
and the very soul of duty. But for all this, these bents, and 
propensities, and inclinations, will not do the business : the bare 
bending of the bow wiU not hit the mark without shooting the 
arrow ; and men are not called to will, but to work out their 

But what then ? Is it not as certain from the text, that God 
sometimes accepts the will, as it is from those forementioned 
scriptures, that God commands the deed ? Yes, no doubt : since 
it is impossible for the Holy Ghost to contradict that in one 
place of scripture, which he had affirmed in another. In all the 

156 DR. south's seRxAioms. []smui. x. 

foregoing places, doing is expressly commanded, and no happi- 
ness allowed to any thing short of it ; and yet here God is said 
to accept of the will ; and can both these stand together without 
manifest contradiction ? That which enjoins the deed is certainly 
God's law ; and it is also as certain, that the scripture that allows 
of the will, is neither the abrogation, nor derogation, nor dispen- 
sation, nor relaxation of that law. 

In order to the clearing of which, I shall lay down these two 

(1.) That every law of God commands the obedience of the 
whole man. (2.) That the will is never accepted by God, but 
as it is the obedience of the whole man. 

So that the allowance or acceptance of the wall, mentioned in 
the text, takes oiF nothing from the obligation of those laws, in 
which the deed is so plainly and positively enjoined ; but is only 
an interpretation or declaration of the true sense of those laws, 
showing the equity of them ; which is as really essential to every 
law, and gives it its obliging force as much as the justice of it ; 
and indeed is not another, or a distinct thing from the justice 
of it, any more than a particular case is from a universal rule. 

But you will say, how can the obedience of the will ever be 
proved to be the obedience of the whole man ? 

For answer to which, we are first to consider every man as a 
moral, and consequently as a rational agent ; and then to con- 
sider, what is the office and influence of the will in every moral 
action. Now the morality of an action is founded in the freedom 
of that principle, by virtue of which it is in the agent's power, 
having all things ready and requisite to the performance of an 
action, either to perform or not to perform it. And, as the will 
is endued with this freedom, so is it also endued with a power to 
command all the other faculties, both of soul and body, to execute 
what it has so willed or decreed, and that without resistance ; so 
that upon the last dictate of the will for the doing of such or 
such a thing, all the other faculties proceed immediately to act 
according to their respective offices. By which it is manifest, 
that in point of action the will is virtually the whole man ; as 
containing in it all that, which by virtue of Iris other faculties 
he is able to do : just as the spring of a watch is virtually the 
whole motion of the watch ; forasmuch as it imparts a motion to 
all the wheels of it. 

Thus as to the soul. If the will bids the understanding think, 
study, and consider ; it will accordingly apply itself to thought, 
study, and consideration. If it bids the affections love, rejoice, 
or be angry ; an act of love, joy, or anger will foUow. And then 
for the body : if the will bids the leg go, it goes ; if it bids the 
hand do this, it does it. So that a man is a moral agent, only as 
he is endued with, and acts by a free and commanding principle 
of will. 


And therefore, Avhen God says, " My son, give me thy heart," 
which there signifies tlte tvill, it is as much as if he had com- 
manded the ser\dce of the whole man ; for whatsoever the will 
commands the whole man must do : the empire or dominion of 
the will over all the faculties of soul and body (as to most of the 
operations of each of them) being absolutely overruling and 
despotical. From whence it follows, that when the will has 
exerted an act of command upon any faculty of the soul, or 
member of the body, it has, by so doing, done all that the whole 
man, as a moral agent, can do for the actual exercise or employ- 
ment of such a faculty or member. And if so, then what is 
not done in such a case, is certainly not in a man's power to do ; 
and consequently, is no part of the obedience required of him ; 
no man being commanded or obliged to obey beyond his power. 
And therefore the obedience of the will to God's commands is 
the obedience of the whole man (forasmuch as it includes and 
infers it) ; which was the assertion that Ave undertook to prove. 

But you will say,- if the prerogative of the will be such, that 
where it commands the hand to give an alms, the leg to kneel, or 
to go to church, or the tongue to utter a j^rayer, all these things 
will infallibly be done ; suppose we now, a man be bound hand 
and foot by some outward violence, or be laid up with the gout, 
or disabled for any of these functions by a palsy ; can the will, 
by its command, make a man in such a condition utter a prayer, 
or kneel, or go to church ? No, it is manifest it cannot : but 
then you are to know also, that neither is vocal prayer, or bodily 
kneeling, or going to church in such a case, any part of the obe- 
dience requu-ed of such a person : but that act of his will hitherto 
spoken of, that would have put his body upon all these actions, 
had there been no impediment, is that man's whole obedience ; 
and for that very cause that it is so, and for no other, it stands 
here accepted by God. 

From all which discourse this must naturally and directly be 
inferred, as a certain truth, and the chief foundation of all that 
can be said upon this subject : namely, that whosoever wills the 
doing of a thing, if the doing of it be in his power, he will cer- 
tainly do it ; and whosoever does not do that thing which he has 
in his power to do, does not really and properly will it. For 
though the act of the will commanding, and the act of any other 
facidty of the soul or body executing that which is so com- 
manded, be physically, and in the precise nature of things, dis- 
tinct and several ; yet morally, as they proceed in subordination, 
from one entire, free, moral agent, both in divinity and morahty, 
they pass but for one and the same action. 

Now, that from the foregoing particulars we may come to un- 
derstand, how far this rule of God's accepting the will for the 
deed holds good in the sense of the apostle, we must consider it 
in these three things. 

158 DR. south's sermons. [^SERM, X. 

1. The original ground and reason of it. 2. The just measure 
and bounds of it : and, 3. The abuse or misapplication of it. 

And first for the original ground and reason of this rule : it is 
founded upon that great, self-evident, and eternal truth, that 
the just, the wise, and good God neither does nor can require of 
any man any thing that is impossible, or naturally beyond his 
j)ower to do : and therefore, in the second place, the measure of 
this rule, by which the just extent and bounds of it are to be 
determined, must be that power or ability that man naturally 
has, to do or perform the things willed by him. So that where- 
soever such a power is found, there this rule of God's accepting 
the will has no place ; and wheresoever such a power is not found, 
there this rule presently becomes in force. And accordingly, in 
the third and last place, the abuse or misappHcation of this rule 
will consist in these two things : 

1. That men do very often take that to be an act of the will, 
that really and truly is not so. 2. That they reckon many things 
impossible that indeed are not impossible. 

And first, to begin with men's mistakes about the will, and the 
acts of it ; I shall note these three, by which men are extremely 
apt to impose upon themselves. 

(1.) As, first, the bare approbation of the worth and goodness 
of a thing is not properly the willing of that thing ; and yet men 
do very commonly account it so. But this is properly an act of 
the understanding or judgment ; a faculty wholly distinct from the 
will, and which makes a principal part of that, which in divinity we 
call natural conscience ; and in the strength of which a man may 
approve of things good and excellent, without ever willing or 
intending the practice of them. And accordingly, the apostle, 
Rom. ii. 18, gives us an account of some who approved of things 
excellent, and yet practised, and consequently willed, things clean 
contrary, since no man can commit a sin, but he must will it first. 
Whosoever observes and looks into the workings of his own 
heart, will find that noted sentence. Video meliora prohoque, de- 
teriora sequor, too frequently and fatally verified upon himself. 
The seventh of the Romans, which has been made the unliappy 
scene of so much controversy about these matters, has several 
passages to this purpose. In a word, to judge what ought to be 
done is one thing, and to will the doing of it, is quite another. 

No doubt, virtue is a beautiful and a glorious thing in the eyes 
of the most vicious person breathing ; and all that he does or can 
hate in it, is the difficulty of its practice : for it is practice alone 
that divides the world into virtuous and vicious : but otherwise, 
as to the theory and speculation of virtue and vice, honest and 
dishonest, the generality of mankind are much the same ; for 
men do not approve of virtue by choice and free election, but 
it is an homage which nature commands all understandings to 
pay to it, by necessary determination : and yet, after all, it is but 


a faint, unactive thing ; for, in defiance of the judgment, the will 
may still remain as perverse, and as much a stranger to Adrtne, as 
it was before. In fine, there is as much difference between the 
approbation of the judgment, and the actual volitions of the Avill, 
with relation to the same object, as there is betw^een a man's 
viewing a desirable thing with liis eye, and his reacliing after it 
with his hand. 

(2.) The washing of a tiling is not j^roperly the willing of it, 
though too often mistaken by men for such ; but it is that which 
is called by the schools an imperfect velleity, and imports no 
more than an idle, unoperative complacency in, and desire of the 
end, without any consideration of, nay, for the most part, with a 
direct abhorrence of the means ; of which nature I account the 
wish of Balaam, in Numb, xxiii. 10, " Let me die the death of 
the righteous, and let my last end be like his." 

The thing itself appeared desirable to him, and accordingly he 
could not but like and desire it ; but then it was after a very 
irrational absurd way, and contrary to all the methods and prin- 
ciples of a rational agent ; which never wills a thing really and 
properly, but it applies to the means by which it is to be 
accjuired. But at that very time that Balaam desired to " die 
the death of the righteous," he was actually following " the wages 
of unrighteousness," and so thereby engaged in a course quite 
contrary to what he desired ; and consequently, such as could not 
possibly bring him to such an end. Much Hke the sot, that cried, 
Utinam hoc esset laborare, while he lay lazing and lolling upon his 

But every true act of volition imports a respect to the end, hj 
and through the means ; and wills a thing only in that way, in 
which it is to be compassed or effected ; which is the foundation 
of that most true aphorism. That he who wills the end, w ill also 
the means. The truth of which is founded in such a necessary 
connexion of the terms, that I look upon the proposition, not only 
as true, but convertible ; and that, as a man cannot truly and 
properly will the end, but he must also will the means ; so neither 
can he will the means, but he must virtually, and by interpreta- 
tion at least, will the end. Which is so true, that in the account 
of the divine law, a man is reckoned to will even those things 
that naturally are not the objects of desire ; such as death itself, 
Ezek. xviii. 31, only because he wills those ways and courses that 
naturally tend to and end in it. And even our own common 
law looks upon a man's raising arms against, or imprisoning his 
prince, as an imagining or compassing of his death : forasmuch as 
these actions are the means directly leading to it, and, for the 
most part, actually concluding in it ; and consequently, that the 
willing of the one, is the willing of the other also. 

To will a thing therefore, is certainly much another thing from 
what the generality of men, especially in their spiritual concerns, 


take it to be. I say, in their spiritual concerns ; for in their 
temporal, it is manifest, that they think and jiidge much other- 
wise, and in the things of this world, no man is allowed or 
believed to will any thing heartily, which he does not endeavour 
after proportionably. A wish is properly a man of desire, sitting 
or lying still ; but an act of the will, is a man of business, 
vigorously going about his work : and certainly there is a great 
deal of difference between a man's stretching out his arms to 
work, and his stretching them out only to yawn. 

(3.) And lastl}^, a mere inclination to a tiling is not properly a 
willing of that thing ; and yet in matters of duty, no doubt, men 
frequently reckon it for such. For otherwise, why should they 
so often plead and rest in the goodness of their hearts, and the 
honest and well inclined dispositions of their minds, when they 
are justly charged with an actual non-performance of what the 
law requires of them ? 

But that an incUnation to a tiling, is not a wilMng of that thing, 
is irrefragably proved by this one argument, that a man may act 
virtuously against his inclination, but not against his will. He 
may be inclined to one thing, and yet will another ; and therefore 
inclination and will are not the same. 

For a man may be naturally inclined to pride, lust, anger, and 
strongly inclined so too, forasmuch as these inclinations are 
founded in a peculiar crasis and constitution of the blood and 
spirits ; and yet, by a steady frequent repetition of the contrary 
acts of humility, chastity, and meekness, carried thereto by liis 
will, a principle not to be controlled by the blood or spirits, he 
©lay at length plant in his soul all those contrary habits of virtue: 
and therefore it is certain, that while inclination bends the soul 
one way, a well disposed and resolved will may effectually draw 
it another. A sufficient demonstration, doubtless, that they are 
two very different things ; for where there may be a contrariety, 
there is certainly a diversity. A good inclination is but the first 
rude draught of virtue ; but the finishing strokes are from the 
will ; which, if well disposed, will by degrees perfect r if ill 
disposed, will, by the superinduction of ill habits, quickly de- 
face it. 

God never accepts a good inclination instead of a good action, 
Avhere that action may be done ; nay, so much the contrary, that 
if a good inclination be not seconded by a good action, the want 
of that action is thereby made so much the more criminal and 

A man may be naturally well and virtuously inclined, and yet 
never do one good or virtuous action all his hfe. A bowl may 
lie still for all its bias ; but it is impossible for a man to will 
virtue and virtuous actions heartily, but he must in the same de- 
gree offer at the practice of them ; forasmuch as the dictates of 
the Avill are (as we have shown) despotical, and command the 


whole man : it being a contradiction in morality, for the Avill to 
go one way, and the man another. 

And thus as to the first abuse or misapplication of the great 
rule mentioned in the text, about God's accepting the will, I have 
shown three notable mistakes, Avhich men are apt to entertain 
concerning the will ; and proved, that neither a bare approbation 
of, nor a mere wishing, or unactive complacency in, nor lastly, a 
natural inclination to tilings virtuous and good, can pass before 
God for a man's willing of such things ; and consequently, if men 
upon this account will needs take up, and acquiesce in an airy, 
ungrounded persuasion, that they will those things which really 
they do not will, they fall thereby into a gross and fatal delusion : 
a delusion, that must and will shut the door of salvation against 
them. They catch at heaven, but embrace a cloud ; they mock 
God, who wiU not be mocked ; and deceive their own souls, 
wliich, God knows, may too easily be both deceived, and de- 
stroyed too. 

2. Come we now in the next place to consider the other way, 
by Avhich men are prone to abuse and pervert this important rule 
oj God's accounting the will for the deed ; and that is, by reck- 
oning many things impossible, which in truth are not impossible. 

And this I shall make appear by showing some of the princij^al 
instances of duty, for the performance of wliich, men commonly 
plead want of power ; and thereupon persuade themselves, that 
God and the law rest satisfied with their will. 

Now these instances are four : 

(1.) In duties of very great and hard labour. Labour is con- 
fessedly a great part of the curse ; and therefore, no wonder, if 
men fly from it : which they do with so great an aversion, that 
few men know their own strength for want of trying it ; and, 
upon that account, tliink themselves really unable to do many 
things, wliich experience would convince them, they have more 
ability to effect, than they have wUl to attempt. 

It is idleness that creates impossibilities ; and where men care 
not to do a thing, they shelter themselves under a persuasion 
that it cannot be done. The shortest and the surest way to prove 
a work possible, is strenuously to set about it ; and no wonder if 
that proves it possible, that, for the most part, makes it so. 

" Dig," says the unjust steward, " I cannot." But why ? Did 
either his legs or his arms fail him ? No, but day-labour was but 
a hard and a dry kind of livelihood to a man that could get 
an estate with two or three strokes of his pen ; and find so great 
a treasure as he did without digging for it. 

But such excuses will not pass muster with God, who will 
allow no man's humour or idleness to be the measure of possible 
or impossible. And to manifest the wretched hypocrisy of such 
pretences, those very tilings, which upon the bare obligation of 
duty are declined by men as impossi])le, presently become not only 

VOL. I. M 

162 DR. south's sermons. Qserm. X. 

possible, but readily practicable too, in a case of extreme necessity. 
As no doubt that forementioned instance of fraud and laziness, 
the unjust steward, who pleaded that he could neither dig nor 
beg, would quickly have been brought both to dig and to beg 
too, rather than starve. And if so, what reason could such a one 
produce before God, why he could not sulDmit to the same hard- 
ships, rather than cheat and lie ? The former being but destruc- 
tive of the body, this latter of the soul : and certainly the highest 
and dearest concerns of a temporal life are infinitely less valuable 
than those of an eternal ; and consequently ought, Avithout any 
demur at all, to be sacrificed to them, whensoever they come in 
competition wdtli them. He who can digest any labour rather 
than die, must refuse no labour rather than sin. 

(2.) The second instance shall be in duties of great and 
apparent danger. Danger, as the w^orld goes, generally absolves 
from duty ; this being a case in which most men, according to a 
very ill sense, will needs be a law to themselves ; and where it is 
not safe for them to be religious, their religion shall be to be safe. 
But Christianity teaches us a very different lesson ; for if fear of 
suffering coidd take off the necessity of obeying, the doctrine of 
the cross w^ould certainly be a a^ ery idle and a senseless tiling ; and 
Christ would never have prayed, "Father, if it be possible, let 
this cup pass from me," had the bitterness of that draught made 
it impossible to be drunk of. If death and danger are things "that 
really cannot be endured, no man could ever be obliged to suffer 
for his conscience, or to die for his religion ; it being altogether 
as absurd to imagine a man obliged to suffer, as to do impossi- 

But those primitive heroes of the Christian church could not 
80 easily blow off the doctrine of passive obedience, as to make 
the fear of being passive a discharge from being obedient. No, 
they found martyrdom not only possible, but in many cases a 
duty also ; a duty dressed up indeed with all that was terrible 
and afflictive to human nature, yet not at all the less a duty for 
being so. And such a height of Christianity possessed those 
noble souls, that every martyr coidd keep one eye steadily fixed 
upon his duty, and look death and danger out of countenance 
with the other ; nor did they flinch from duty for fear of martyr- 
dom, when one of the most quickening motives to duty was their 
desire of it. 

But to prove the possibility of a thing, there is no argument 
like to that which looks backw' ards ; for what has been done or 
suflered, may' certainly be done or suffered again. And to prove 
that men may be martyrs, there needs no other demonstration 
than to show that many have been so. Besides that the grace 
of God has not so far abandoned the Chinstian world, but that 
those high primitive instances of passive fortitude in the case of 
duty and danger rivalling one another, have been exemplified, 


and, as it were, revived by several glorious copies of tliem in the 
succeeding ages of the church. 

And, thanks be to God, we need not look very far backward 
for some of them, even amongst ourselves. For when a violent, 
victorious faction and rebellion had overrun all, and made loyalty 
to the king and conformity to the church crimes unpardonable, 
and of a guilt not to be expiated, but at the price of life and 
estate ; when men were put to swear away all interest in the next 
world, to secure a very poor one in this ; for they had then oaths 
to murder souls, as well as sword and pistol for the body ; nay, 
when the persecution ran so high, that that execrable monster 
Cromwell made and published that barbarous, heathenish, or 
I'ather inhuman edict against the poor suffering episcopal clergy, 
" That they should neither preach nor pray in public, nor baptize, 
nor marry, nor bury, nor teach school, no, nor so much as live in 
any gentleman's house," who in mere charity and compassion 
might be inclined to take them in from perishing in the streets ; 
that is, in other words, that they must starve and die ex officio, 
and being turned out of their churches, take possession only of 
the church-yard, as so many victims to the remorseless rage of a 
foul, ill bred tyrant professing piety without so much as common 
humanity : I say, when rage and persecution, cruelty and Crom- 
wellism were at that diabolical pitch, tyrannizing over every 
thing that looked like loyalty, conscience, and conformity ; so that 
he, who took not their engagement, could not take any thing 
else, though it were given him ; being thereby debarred from the 
very common benefit of the law, in suing for or recovering of his 
right in any of their courts of justice, all of them still following 
the motion of the high one ; yet even then, and under that black 
and dismal state of things, there were many thousands who never 
bowed the knee to Baal-Cromwell, Baal-covenant, or Baal- 
engagement ; but with a steady, fixed, unshaken resolution, and 
in a glorious imitation of those heroic Christians in the tenth and 
eleventh chapters of the epistle to the Hebrews, " endured a 
great fight of afflictions, were made a gazing-stock by reproaches, 
took joyfully the spoiKng of their goods, had trial of cruel mock- 
ings; moreover of bonds and imprisonments; sometimes Were 
tempted, sometimes were slain with the sword ; wandered about 
in hunger and nakedness, being destitute, afflicted, tormented.** 
All which sufferings surely ought to entitle them to that con- 
cluding character in the next words, " of whom the world was 
not worthy." And I wish I could say of England, that it were 
worthy of those men now. For I look upon the old church of 
England royalists (which I take to be only another name for a 
man who prefers his conscience before his interest) to be the best 
Christians, and the most meritorious subjects in the world ; as 
ha^dng passed all those terrible tests and trials, which conquer- 
ing, domineering malice could put them to, and caiTied their 

M 2 

1(34 DR. south's sermons. Qserm, X. 

credit and their conscience clear and triumphant through and 
above them all, constantly firm and immoveable, by all that they 
felt either from their professed enemies or their false friends. 
And what these men did and suffered, others might have done 
and suffered too. 

But they, good men, had -another and more artificial sort of 
conscience, and a way to interpret off a command, where they 
found it dangerous or unprofitable to do it. ' God knows my 
heart,' says one, ' I love the king cordially :' ' and I wish well to 
the church,' says another ; ' but you see the state of things is 
altered, and we cannot do what we would do. Our will is good, 
and the king gracious ; and we hope he will accept of this, and 
dispense with the rest.' A goodly present, doubtless, as they 
meant it ; and such as they might freely give, and yet part with 
nothing ; and the king, on the other hand, receive and gain just 
as much. 

But now, had the whole nation mocked God and their king at 
this shuffling, hypocritical rate, what an odious, infamous people 
must that rebellion have represented the English to all posterity? 
Wliere had been the honour of the reformed religion, that could 
not afford a man Clu'istian enough to suffer for his God and his 
prince ? But the old royalists did both, and thereby demonstrated 
to the world, that no danger could make duty imjjossible. 

And, upon my conscience, if we may assign any other reason 
or motive of the late mercies of God to these poor kingdoms, 
besides liis own proneness to show mercy, it was for the sake of 
the old, suffering cavaliers, and for the sake of none else what- 
soever, that God deHvered us from the two late accursed con- 
spiracies. For they were the lirats and offspring of two contrary 
factions, both of them equally mortal and inveterate enemies of 
our church ; which they have been, and still are, perpetually 
pecking and striking at with the same malice, though with 
different methods. 

In a word ; the old, tried church of England royalists were 
the men, who, in the darkest and foulest day of persecution that 
ever befell England, never pleaded the will in excuse of the 
deed ; but proved the integrity and loyalty of their wills, both by 
their deeds and their sufferings too. 

But, on the contrary, when duty and danger stand confronting 
one another, and when the law of God says. Obey and assist 
your king, and the faction says. Do if you dare; for men, in 
such a case, to think to divide themselves, and to pretend that 
their will obeys that law, while all besides their will obeys and 
serves the faction ; what is this but a gi'oss fulsome juggling with 
their duty, and a kind of trimming it between God and the 

These things I thought fit to remark to you, not out of any 
intemperate himiour of reflecting upon the late times of confu- 


sion, as the guilt or spite of some may suggest ; but because I 
am satisfied in my heart and conscience, that it is vastly the con- 
cern of his majesty, and of the peace of liis government, both in 
church and state, that the youth of the nation, of wliich such 
auditories as this chiefly consist, should be principled and 
possessed with a full, fixed, and thorough persuasion of the just- 
ness and goodness of the blessed old king's cause ; and of the 
excellent piety and Christianity of those principles, upon which 
the loyal part of the nation adliered to him, and that against the 
most horrid and iiiexcusable rebellion that was ever set on foot, 
and acted upon the stage of the world ; of all wliich whosoever is 
not persuaded, is a rebel in his heart, and deserves not the pro- 
tection wliich he enjoys. 

And the rather do I think such remarks as these necessary of 
late years, because of the vile arts and restless endeavours used 
by some sly and venomous factors for the old republican cause, 
to poison and debauch men from their allegiance ; sometimes 
creeping into houses, and sometimes creeping into studies ; but 
in both equally pimping for the faction, and steahng away as many 
hearts from the son, as they had formerly employed hands against 
the father. And this Avith such success, that it cannot but be 
matter of very sad and melancholy reflection to all sober and 
loyal minds, to consider, that several who had stood it out, and 
persevered firm and unalterable royalists in the late storm, have 
since, I know not by what unhappy fate, turned trimmers in the 

3. The third instance, in which men use to plead the will in- 
stead of the deed, shall be in duties of cost and expense. 

Let a business of expensive charity be proposed ; and then, as 
I showed before, that in matters of labour the lazy person could 
not find any hands wherewith to work ; so neither, in this case, 
can the religious miser find any hands wherewith to give. It is 
wonderful to consider, how a command or call to be liberal, either 
upon a civil or religious account, all of a sudden impoverishes the 
rich, breaks the merchant, shuts uj) every private man's ex- 
chequer, and makes those men in a minute have nothing at all to 
give, who, at the very same instant, want nothing to spend. So 
that, instead of relieving the poor, such a command strangely 
increases their number, and transforms rich men into beggars 
presently. For, let the danger of their prince and country 
knock at their purses, and call upon them to contribute against a 
public enemy or calamity ; then immediately they have notliing, 
and their riches, upon such occasions (as Solomon expresses it) 
never fail to "make themselves wings, and to fly away." 

Thus, at the siege of Constantinople, then the wealthiest city 
in the world, the citizens had nothing to give their emperor for 
the defence of the place, though he begged a supply of them 
with tears ; but, when bv that means the Turks took and sacked 


it, then those who befox'e had nothing to give, had more than 
enough to lose. And in like manner, those who wovild not sup- 
port the necessities of the old blessed king, against his villanous 
enemies, found that plunder could take, where disloyalty would 
not give ; and rapine open those chests, that avarice had shut. 

But to descend to matters of daily and common occurrence ; 
what is more usual in conversation, than for men to express their 
unwillingness to do a thing, by saying, they cannot do it ; and 
for a covetous man, being asked a little money in charity, to an- 
swer, that he has none ? Which as it is, if true, a sufficient an- 
swer to God and man ; so, if false, it is intolerable hypocrisy 
towards both. 

But do men in good earnest think that God will be put off so ? 
or can they imagine, that the law of God will be baffled with a 
lie clothed in a scoff? 

For such pretences are no better, as appears from that notable 
account given us by the apostle of this windy, insignificant 
charity of the will, and of the worthlessness of it, not enlivened 
by deeds, James ii. 16, "If a brother or sister be naked, and des- 
titute of daily food, and one of you say unto them. Depart in 
peace, be ye warmed and filled ; notwithstanding ye give them 
not those things that are needful to the body ; what doth it 
profit?" Profit, does he say? Why, it profits just as much as fair 
words command the market, as good wishes buy food and raiment, 
and pass for current payment in the shops. Come to an old, rich, 
professing vulpony, and tell him, that there is a church to be 
built, beautified, or endowed in such a place, and that he cannot 
lay out his money more to God's honour, the public good, and 
the comfort of his own conscience, than to bestow it liberally 
upon such an occasion; and in answer to this, it is ten to one 
but you shall be told, ' how much God is for the inward, spiritual 
worship of the heart : and that the Almighty neither dwells nor 
delights in temples made Avith hands ; but hears and accepts the 
prayers of his people in dens and caves, barns and stables ; and in 
the homeliest and meanest cottages, as well as in the stateliest 
and most magnificent churches.' Thus, I say, you are like to be 
answered. In reply to which, I would have all such sly, sancti- 
fied cheats (who are so often harping upon this string) know, once 
for all, that that God, who accepts the prayers of his people in 
dens and caves, barns and stables, when, by his afflicting Provi- 
dence, he has driven them from the appointed places of his solemn 
worship, so that they cannot have the use of them, will not, for 
all this, endure to be served, or prayed to by them, in such places 
nor accept of their barn-worship, nor their hogsty-worsliip, no, 
nor yet of their parlour or their chamber-worship, where he has 
given them both wealth and power to build him churches. For 
he that commands us to " worehip him in the spirit," commands 
us, also " to honour him with our substance." And never pretend 


that thou hast a heart to pray, while thou hast no heart to give; 
since he that serves mammon with his estate, cannot possibly 
serve God with his heart. For as in the heathen worship of God, 
a sacrifice without a heart was accounted ominous ; so, in the 
Christian worship of him, a heart without a sacrifice is worthless 
and impertinent. 

And thus much for men's pretences of the will, when they are 
called upon to give upon a religious account ; according to which 
a man may be well enough said, as the common word is, to be all 
heart, and yet the arrantest miser in the world. 

But come Ave now to this old rich pretender to godliness, in. 
another case, and tell him, that there is such a one, a man of a 
good family, good education, and who has lost all his estate for 
the king, now ready to rot in prison for debt ; come, what will 
you give towards his release? Why then, answers the Avill instead 
of the deed, as much the readier speaker of the tAvo, ' The truth 
is, I ahvays had a respect for such men ; I love them Avith all my 
heart ; and it is a thousand pities that any that have serA'ed the 
king so faithfully should be in such Avant.' So say I too ; and the 
more shame is it for the whole nation, that they should be so : but 
still, Avhat will you give ? Why, then ansAvers the man of mouth- 
charity again, and tells you, ' That you could not come at a Avorse 
time ; that money is noAV-a-days very scarce with him, and that 
therefore he can giA^e nothing ; but he Avill be sure to pray for 
the poor gentleman.' 

Ah, thou hypocrite ! when thy brother has lost all that ever 
he had, and lies languishing, and even gasping under the utmost 
extremities of poverty and distress ; dost thou think thus to lick 
him whole again only with thy tongue ? Just like that old formal 
hocus, who denied a beggar a fartliing, and put him off with his 

Why, Avhat are the prayers of a covetous wretch worth ? What 
will thy blessing go for ? Wliat Avill it buy ? Is tliis the charity that 
the apostle here, in the text, presses upon the Corinthians ? This 
the case, in Avhich God accepts the willingness of the mind, in- 
stead of the liberality of the purse? No assuredly, but the 
measures that God marks out to thy charity, are these : thy su- 
perfluities must give place to thy neighbour's great convenience : 
thy convenience must veil to thy neighbour's necessity ; and, 
lastly, thy very necessities must yield to thy neighbour's ex- 

This is the gradual process that must be thy rule ; and he that 
pretends a disability to give, short of this, prevaricates Avith his 
duty, and evacuates the precept. God sometimes calls upon thee 
to relieve the needs of thy poor brother, sometimes the necessities 
of thy country, and sometimes the urgent Avants of thy prince : 
now, before thou fliest to the old, stale, usual pretence, that thou 
canst do none of all these things, consider with thyself, that there 

16B Vn. SOL'Tll's SERMONS. [^SEUM. X. 

is a God, who is not to be flammed off with lies, who knows 
exactly what thou canst do, and what thou canst not : and con- 
sider, in the next place, that it is not the best husbandry in the 
world, to be damned to save charges. 

4. The fourth and last duty that I shall mention, in which 
men use to plead want of power to do the thing they have a wall 
to, is the conquering of a long, inveterate iU habit or custom. 

And the truth is, there is nothing that leaves a man less power 
to do good than this does. Nevertheless, that which weakens 
the hand, does not therefore cut it off. Some power to good, no 
doubt, a man has left him, for all this : and therefore, God Avill 
not take the drunkard's excuse, that he has so long accustomed 
himself to intemperate drinking, that now he cannot leave it off; 
nor admit of the passionate man's apology, that he has so long 
given his unruly passions their head, that he cannot now govern 
or control them. For these things are not so ; since no man is 
guilty of an act of iiatemperance of any sort, but he might have 
forborn it ; not without some trouble, I confess, from the strag- 
glings of the contrary habit : but still the thing was possible to 
be done ; and he might, after all, have forborn it. And, as he 
forbore one act, so he might have forborn another, and after that 
another, and so on, till he had, by degrees, weakened, and, at 
lenijth, mortified and extinguished the habit itself. That these 
things, indeed, are not quickly or easily to be effected, is manifest, 
and nothing will be more readily granted ; and therefore the 
scripture itself owns so much, by expressing and representing 
these mortifying courses, by acts of the greatest toil and labour ; 
such as are, warfare, and taking up the cross ; and by acts of the 
most terrible violence, and contrariety to nature ; such as are, 
cutting off the right hand, and plucking out the right eye; things 
infinitely grievous and afflictive, yet still, for all that, feasible 
in themselves ; or else, to be sure, the eternal wisdom of God 
would never have advised, and much less have commanded them. 
For what God has commanded, must be done, and what must 
be done, assuredly may be done : and therefore, all pleas of im- 
potence or inability, in such cases, are utterly false and imperti- 
nent, and will infallibly be thrown back in the face of such as 
make them. 

But you Avill say, does not the scripture itself acknowledge it 
as a thing impossible for a man, brought under the custom of 
sin, to forbear sinning? In Jer. xiii. 23, " Can the Ethiopian 
change his skin, or the leopard his sjDots ? then may ye also do 
good, that are accustomed to do evil." Now if this can be no 
more done than the former, is it not a demonstration that it can- 
not be done at all ? 

To this I answer, that the words mentioned are tropical or 
figurative, and import an hyperbole, Avhich is a Avay of express- 
ing things beyond wdiat really and naturally they are in them- 


selvetj; and, consequently, the design of this scripture, in saying 
that this cannot be done, is no more than to show, that it is very 
hardly and rery rarely done; hut not, in strict truth, utterly 
impossible to be done. 

In vain, therefore, do men take sanctuary in such misunder- 
stood expressions as these ; and from a false persuasion, that 
they cannot reform their lives, break off their ill customs, and 
root out their old vicious habits, never so much as attempt, en- 
deavour, or go about it. For admit that such a habit, seated 
in the soul, be, as our Saviour calls it, " a strong man armed, 
got into possession ;" yet still he may be dispossessed and thrown 
out by a stronger, Luke xi. 21, 22. Or be it, as St. Pavil calls 
it, " a law in our members," Kom. vii. 23, yet certainly, ill laws 
may be broken and disobeyed as well as good. But if men avUI 
sufier themselves to be enslaved, and carried away by their lusts, 
without resistance, and wear the devil's yoke quietly, rather 
than be at the ti'ouble of throwing it off, and thereupon some- 
times feel their consciences galled and grieved by av earing it, 
they must not, from these secret stings and femorses felt by 
them in the prosecution of their sins, presently conclude, that 
therefore their will is good and well disposed ; and, consequently, 
such as God will accept, though their lives remain all the while 
unchanged, and as much under the dominion of sin as ever. 

These reasonings, I know, lie deep in the minds of most men, 
and relieve and support their hearts in spite and in the midst of 
their sins ; yet they are all but sophistry and delusion, and false 
pi-opositions contrived by the devil, to hold men fast in their 
sins by final impenitence. For though possibly the grace of 
God may, in some cases, be irresistible ; yet it would be an in- 
finite reproach to his providence to affirm, that sin either is or 
can be so. And thus I have given you four principal instances, 
in which men use to plead the will instead of the deed, upon a 
pretended impotence or disability for the deed ; namely, in du- 
ties of great labour ; in duties of much danger ; in duties of cost 
and expense ; and lastly, in duties requiring a resistance and an 
extirpation of inveterate sinful habits. 

In the neglect of aU which, men relieve their consciences by 
this one great fallacy running through them all, that they mis- 
take difficulties for impossibilities. A pernicious mistake cer- 
tainly ; and the more pernicious, for that men are seldom 
convinced of it till their conviction can do them no good. There 
cannot be a weightier or more important case of conscience for 
men to be resolved in, than to know certainly how far God 
accepts the will for the deed, and how far he does not ; and 
withal to be informed truly when men do really will a thing, and 
when they have really no power to do what they have willed. 

For surely it cannot Init be matter of very dreadful and terri- 


fying consideration to any one sober and in his wits, to think 
seriously with himself, what horror and confusion must needs 
surprise that man, at the last and great day of account, who had 
led his whole life and governed all his actions by one rule, 
when God intends to judge him by another. 

To which God, the great searcher and judge of hearts, and 
rewarder of men according to their deeds, be rendered and 
ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, majesty, and do- 
minion, both now and for evermore. Amen. 





[Preached at Christ Church, Oxon, before the University, October 17, 1675.] 

Judges viii. 34, 35. 

And the children of Israel remembered not the Lord their God, who 
had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every 
side: neither shoiced they kindness to the house of Jeruhhaal, 
namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had 
shoived unto Israel. 

These words, being a result of judgment given upon matter 
of fact, naturally directs us to the foregoing story, to inform us 
of their occasion. The subject of which story was that heroic 
and victorious judge of Israel, Gideon ; who, by the greatness of 
his achievements, had merited the offer of a crown and kingdom, 
and, by the greatness of his mind, refused it. The whole narra- 
tive is contained and set before us in the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th 
chapters of this book ; where we read, that when the children of 
Israel, according to their usual method of sinning after mercies 
and dehverances, and thereupon returning to a fresh enslavement 
to their enemies, had now passed seven years in cruel subjection 
to the Midianites, a potent and insidting enemy, and who op- 
pressed them to that degree, that they had scarce bread to fill 
their mouths, or houses to cover their heads : for, in the second 
verse of the sixth chapter, Ave find them housing themselves 
under ground in dens and caves ; and in ver. 3, 4, no sooner had 
they sown their corn, but we have the enemy coming up in 
armies and destroying it. In this sad and calamitous condition, 
I say, in which one would have thought that a deliverance from 
such an oppressor woidd have even revived them, and the de- 
liverer eternally obliged them, God raised up the spirit of this 
great person, and ennobled his courage and conduct with the en- 
tire overthrow of this mighty and numerous, or rather innumera- 
ble host of the Midianites ; and that in such a manner, and with 
such strange and unparalleled circumstances, that, in the whole 
action, the mercy and the miracle seemed to strive for the pre- 
eminence. And so quick a sense did the Israelites, immediately 
after it, 'seem to entertain of the merits of Gideon, and the 
obligation he had laid upon them, that they all, as one man, 
tender him the regal and hereditary government of that people. 


in the 22nd verse of this eighth chapter ; " Then said the men 
of Israel to Gideon, Rnle thon over us, both thou, and thy son, 
and thy son's son also : for thou hast dehvered us from the hand 
of Midian." To which he answered as magnanimously, and by 
that answer redoubled the obligation, in the next verse, " I will 
not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you, but the 
Lord shall rule over you." 

Thus far then we see the workings of a just gratitude in the 
Israelites ; and goodness on the one side nobly answered with 
greatness on the other. And now, after so vast an obligation, 
owned by so free an acknowledgment, could any thing be ex- 
pected but a continual interchange of kindnesses, at least on 
their part vfho had been so infinitely obhged and so gloriously 
delivered? Yet in the ninth chapter, w^e find these veiy men 
turning the sword of Gideon into his own bowels ; cutting off 
the very race and posterity of their deliverer, by the slaughter of 
threescore and ten of his sons, and setting up the son of his con- 
cubine, the blot of his family, and tlie monument of liis shame, 
to reign over them ; and all this without the least provocation or 
offence given them, either by Gideon himself, or by any of his 
house. After which horrid fact, I suppose we can no longer 
wonder at this unlooked-for account given of the Israelites in 
the text , " That they remembered not the Lord their God, who 
had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on 
every side : neither showed they kindness to the house of Gideon, 
according to all the goodness Avhich he had showed unto Israel." 

The truth is, they were all along a cross, odd, untov/ard sort 
of people, and such as God seems to have chosen, and (as the 
prophets sometimes phrase it) to have espoused to himself, upon 
the very same account that Socrates espoused Xantippe, only for 
her extreme ill conditions, above all that he could possibly find 
or pick out of that sex; and so the fittest argument both to 
exercise and declare his admirable patience to the world. 

The Avords of the text are a charge given in against the 
Israelites ; a charge of that foul and odious sin of ingratitude ; 
and that both towards God and towards man : towards God in 
the 34th verse, and towards man in the 35th. Such being ever 
the groAving contagion of this ill quality, that if it begins at God, 
it naturally descends to men ; and if it first exerts itself upon 
men, it infallibly ascends to God. If Ave consider it as directed 
against God, it is a breach of religion ; if as to men, it is an 
offence against morality. The passage from one to the other is 
very easy : breach of duty toAvards our neighbour, still invoh' ing 
in it a breach of duty towards God too ; and no man's religion 
ever survives his morals. 

My purpose is, from this remarkable subject and occasion, to 
treat of ingratitude, and that chiefly in this latter sense ; and 
from the case of the Israelites towards Gideon, to traverse the 


nature, principles, and properties of this detestable vice : and so 
drawing before your eyes the several lineaments and parts of it, 
from the ugly aspect of the picture, to leave it to your own 
hearts to judge of the original. For the effecting of which, I 
shall do these following things : 

I. I shall show what gratitude is, and upon what the obliga- 
tion to it is grounded. 

II. I shall give some account of the nature and baseness of 

III. I shall show the princij)le from which ingratitude pro- 

IV. I shall show those ill qualities that inseparably attend it, 
and are never disjoined from it. And, 

V. And lastly, I shall draw some useful inferences, by way of 
application, from the premises. 

I. And first for the first of these : What gratitude is, and upon 
what the obligation to it is growided. "Gratitude is properly a 
virtue, disposing the mind to an inward sense and an outward 
acknowledgment of a benefit received, together with a readiness 
to return the same, or the like, as the occasions of the doer of it 
shall rec{nire, and the abilities of the receiver extend to." 

This, to me, seems to contain a full description, or rather 
definition of this virtue : from which it appears, that gratitude 
includes in it these tlu'ee parts : 

1. A particular observation, or taking notice of a kindness 
received, and consequently of the good will and aftection of the 
person who did that kindness. For still, in this case, the mind 
of the giver is more to be attended to, than the matter of the 
gift ; it being this that stamps it properly a favour, and gives it 
the noble and endearing denomination of a kindness. 

2. The second part of gratitude is that which brings it from 
the heart into the mouth, and makes a man express the sense he 
has of the benefit done him by thanks, acknowledgments, and 
gratulations ; and where the heart is full of the one, it will 
certainly overflow, and run over in the other. 

3. The third and last is, an endeavour to recompense our 
benefiictor, and to do something that may redound to his advan- 
tage, in consideration of what he has done towards ours. I state it 
upon endeavour, and not upon effect ; for this latter may be often 
impossible. But it is in the power of every one to do as much 
as he can ; to make some essay at least, some offer and attempt 
this way ; so as to show that there is a spring of motion within, 
and that the heart is not idle or insensible, but that it is full and 
big, and knows itself to be so, though it wants strength to bring 
forth. Having thus shown what gratitude is, the next tiling 
is to show the obligation that it brings uj)on a man, and the 
ground and reason of that obligation. 

174 ni?. SOUTIl's SERMONS. [[sERM. XI. 

As for the obligation, I know no moralists or casuists, that 
treat scholastically of justice, but treat of gratitude under that 
general head, as a part or species of it. And the nature and 
office of justice being to dispose the mind to a constant and per- 
petual readiness to render to every man liis due, suum cuique 
tribuere, it is evident, that if gratitude be a part of justice, it 
must be conversant about something that is due to another : and 
whatsoever is so, must be so by the force of some law. Now, all 
law that a man is capable of being obhged by, is reducible to one 
of these three. 

1. The law of nature. 2. The positive law of God, revealed 
in his word. 3. The law of man, enacted by the civil power for 
the preservation and good of society. 

1. And first for the law of nature, wliich I take to be nothing 
else but the mind of God signified to a rational agent by the bare 
discourse of his reason, and dictating to him that he ought to 
act siutably to the principles of his nature, and to those relations 
that he stands under. For every thing sustains both an absolute 
and a relative capacity : an absolute, as it is such a thing endued 
with such a nature ; and a relative, as it is a part of the universe, 
and so stands in such an order and relation both to the whole, 
and to the rest of the parts. 

After wliich, the next consideration immediately subsequent 
to the being of a thing, is what agrees, or disagrees with that 
thing ; what is suitable, or unsuitable to it ; and from this springs 
the notion of decency or indecency ; that Avhich becomes or mis- 
becomes, and is the same with honestum et turpe. ^Vhich decency, 
or TO TTpiirov, as the Greeks term it, imports a certain measure 
or proportion of one thing to another ; which to transgress, is to 
do contrary to the natural order of things ; the preservation of 
which is joroperly that rule or law by wliich every thing ought 
to act ; and consequently, the violation of it implies a turpitude 
or indecency. Now those actions that are suitable to a rational 
nature, and to that irpiTrov, that decency or honestum belonging 
to it, are contained and expressed in certain maxmis or proposi- 
tions, which, upon the repeated exercise of a man's reason about 
such objects as come before huu, do naturally result, and are 
collected from thence ; and so remaining upon his mind, become 
both a rule to direct and a law to oblige him in the whole course 
of his actions. Such are these maxims : That the supreme being, 
cause, and governor of all tilings, ought to be worshipped and 
depended upon : that parents are to be honoured : that a man 
should do as he would be done by. From wliich last alone may 
sufficiently be deduced all those rules of charity and justice that 
are to govern the offices of conuuon life ; and which alone is 
enough to found an obligation to gratitude : forasmuch as no 
man, having done a kindnese to another, would acquiesce or think 
himself justly dealt with, in a total neglect and unconcernedness 


of the person who had received that kindness from him; and 
consequently, neither ought he to be unconcerned in the same 
case himself. 

But I shall, from other and nearer principles, and those the 
unquestionable documents and dictates of the law of nature, 
evince the obligation and debt lying upon every man to show 
gratitude, where he has received a benefit. Such as are these 
propositions : 

(1.) That according to the rule of natural justice, one man 
may merit and deserve of another. (2.) That whosoever deserves 
of another, makes something due to him froiu the person of 
whom he deserves. (3.) That one man's desei-ving of another is 
founded upon his conferring on him some good, to which that 
other had no right or claim. (4.) That no man has any ante- 
cedent right or claim to that which comes to him by free gift. 
(5.) And lastly. That all desert imj^orts an equality between the 
good conferred, and the good deserved, or made due. From 
whence it follows, that he who confers a good upon another, 
deserves, and consequently has a claim to an equal good from the 
person upon whom it was conferred. So that from hence, by the 
law of nature, springs a debt ; the acknowledging and repaying 
of which debt, as a man shall be able, is the proper office and 
work of gratitude. 

As certain therefore, as by the law of nature there may be, 
and often is, such a thing as merit and desert from one man to 
another ; and as desert gives the person deserving a right or 
claim to some good from the person of whom he deserves ; and 
as a right in one to claun this good, infers a debt and obligation 
in the other to pay it ; so certain it is, by a direct gradation of 
consequences from this principle of merit, that the obligation to 
gratitude flows from, and is enjoined by, the first dictates of 
nature. And the truth is, the greatest and most sacred ties of 
duty, that man is capable of, are founded ujoon gratitude. Such 
as are the duties of a child to his parent, and of a subject to his 
sovereign : from the former of which there is required love and 
honour, in recompence of being ; and from the latter, obedience 
and subjection, in recompence of protection and well-being. And 
in general, if the conferring of a kindness did not bind the per- 
son upon whom it was conferred, to the returns of gratitude ; 
why, in the universal dialect of the world, are kindnesses still 
called obligations ? 

And thus much for the first ground, enforcing the obligations 
of gratitude ; namely, the law of nature. In the next place, 

2. As for the positive law of God revealed in his word, it is 
evident that gratitude must needs be enjoined and made neces- 
sary, by all those scriptures that upbraid or forbid ingratitude ; 
as, in. 2 Tim. iii. 2, the unthankful stand reckoned among the 
highest and most enormous sinners; wliich sufficiently evinces 

176 1>R. SOUTIl's SKUMONS. [sERM. XT. 

the virtue opposite to unthanlvfulness to bear the same place in 
the rank of duties, that its contrary does in the catalogue of sins. 
And the like, by consequence, is infei'red from all those places, 
in which we are commanded to " love our enemies," and to " do 
good to those that hate us :" and therefore certainly much more 
are we by the same commanded to do good to those that have 
prevented us with good, and actually obliged us. So that it is 
manifest, that by the positive written law of God, no less than 
by the law of nature, gratitude is a debt. 

3. In the third and last place ; as for the laws of men, enacted 
by the civil power, it must be confessed, that gratitude is not 
enforced by them ; I say, not enforced, that is, not enjoined by 
the sanction of penalties, to be inflicted upon the person that 
shall not be found grateful. I grant indeed, that many actions 
are punished by law that are acts of ingratitude ; but tliis is 
merely accidental to them, as they are such acts; for, if they 
were punished properly under that notion, and upon that account, 
the punishment would equally reach all actions of the same kind ; 
but they are punished and provided against by law, as they are 
gross and dangerous violations of societies, and that common 
good, that it is the business of the civil laws of all nations to pro- 
tect, and to take care of; which good not being violated or 
endangered by every omission of gratitude between man and 
man, the laws make no peculiar provision to secure the exercise 
of tliis virtue ; but leave it, as they found it, sufficiently enjoined, 
and made a duty by the law of God and nature. 

Though in the Koman law indeed there is this particular pro- 
vision against the breach of this duty in case of slaves : tliat if a 
lord manumits, and makes free his slave, gross ingratitude in the 
person so made free, forfeits his freedom, and reasserts him to his 
former condition of slaveiy ; though perhaps even this also, upon 
an accurate consideration, will be found not a provision against 
ingratitude, properly and formally as such ; but as it is the in- 
gratitude of slaves, which, if left unpunished in a commonwealth, 
where it Avas the custom for men to be served by slaves, as in 
Rome it Avas, would quickly have been a public nuisance and dis- 
turbance ; for such is the peculiar insolence of this sort of men, 
such the incorrigible vileness of all slavish spirits, that though 
freedom may rid them of the baseness of their condition, yet it 
never takes oiF the baseness of their minds. 

And noAv, having shown both what gratitude is, and the ground 
and reasons of men's obligation to it, we have a full account of 
the proper and particular nature of this virtue, as consisting 
adequately in these two things : first, that it is a debt ; and 
secondly, that it is such a debt as is left to every man's ingenuity, 
in respect of any legal coaction, Avhether he Avill pay or no ; for 
there lies no action of debt against him, if he Avill not. He is in 
danger of no arrest, bound over to no assize, nor forced to hold 


up his unworthy hand (the instrument of his ingratitude) at 
any bar. 

And this it is, that shows the rare and distinguishing excel- 
lency of gratitude, and sets it as a crown upon the head of all 
other virtues, that it should plant such an overruling generosity 
in the heart of man, as shall more effectually incline liim to what 
is brave and becoming, than the terror of any penal law whatso- 
ever. So that he shall feel a greater force upon himself from 
within, and from the control of his own principles, to engage him 
to do worthily, than all threatenings and punishments, racks and 
tortures can have upon a low and servile mind, that never acts 
virtuously, but as it is acted ; that knows no principle of doing 
well but fear ; no conscience but constraint. On the contrary, 
the grateful person fears no court or judge, no sentence or exe- 
cutioner, but what he carries about him in his own breast: and being 
still the most severe exactor of himself, not only confesses, but 
proclaims his debts ; his ingenuity is his bond, and his conscience 
a thousand witnesses : so that the debt must needs be sure, yet 
he scorns to be sued for it ; nay, rather he is always suing, im- 
portuning, and even reproacliing himself, till he can clear accounts 
with his benefactor. His heart is, as it were, in continual labour ; 
it even travails with the obligation, and is in pangs till it be de- 
livered : and as David, in the overflowing sense of God's good- 
ness to liim, cries out in the 116th Psalm, ver. 12, "What shall 
I render unto the Lord for all his benefits unto me?" so the 
grateful person, pressed down under the apprehension of any 
great kindness done him, eases his burdened mind a little by 
such expostulations with himself as these : ' ^VTiat shall I do for 
such a friend, for such a patron, who has so frankly, so gene- 
rously, so unconstrainedly relieved me in such a distress ; sup- 
ported me against such an enemy ; suppKed, cherished, and up- 
held me when relations would not know me, or at least could not 
help me ; and, in a word, has prevented my desires, and outdone 
my necessities ? I can never do enough for him ; my own con- 
science would spit in my face, should I ever slight or forget such 
favours.' These are the expostulating dialogues and contests 
that every grateful, every truly noble and magnanimous person 
has with himself. It was, in part, a brave speech of Luc. Cor- 
nelius SyUa, the Koman dictator, who said, that "he found no 
sweetness in being great or powerful, but only that it enabled 
him to crush his enemies, and to gi^atify his friends." I cannot 
warrant or defend the first part of this saying ; but surely he 
that employs his greatness in the latter, be he never so great, it 
must and will make him still greater. 

And thus much for the first general thing proposed ; which 
was to show what gratitude is, and upon what the obligation to 
it is grounded. I proceed now to the second ; which is, 

VOL. I. N 

178 r)R, south's sermons. ITserim. xt. 

TI. To give some account of the nature and baseness of ingrati- 
tude. There is not any one vice or ill quality incident to the 
mind of man, against which the world has raised such a loud and 
universal outcry, as against ingratitude : a vice never mentioned 
by any heathen writer, but with a particular height of detesta- 
tion ; and of such a malignity, that human nature must be 
stripped of humanity itself, before it can be guilty of it. It is 
instead of all other vices ; and, in the balance of morality, a 
counterpoise to them all. In the charge of ingratitude, omnia 
dixeris : it is one great blot upon all mortahty : it is all in a 
word : it saj^s Amen to the black roll of sins : it gives completion 
and confirmation to them all. 

If we would state the nature of it, recourse must be had to 
what has been already said of its contrary ; and so it is properly 
an insensibility of kindnesses received, without any endeavour 
either to acknowledge or repay them. 

To repay them, indeed, by a return equivalent, is not in every 
one's power, and consequ^ently cannot be his duty ; but thanks 
are a tribute payable by the poorest : the most forlorn widow has 
her two mites ; and there is none so indigent, but has a heart 
to be sensible of, and a tongue to express its sense of a benefit 

For surely, nature gives no man a mouth to be always eating, 
and never saying grace ; nor a hand only to grasp and to receive : 
but as it is furnished with teeth for the one, so it should have a 
tonscue also for the other : and the hands that are so often reached 
out to take and to accept, should be sometimes lifted up also to 
bless. The world is maintained by intercourse ; and the whole 
course of nature is a great exchange, in wliich one good turn is 
and ought to be the stated price of another. 

If you consider the universe as one body, you shall find society 
and conversation to supply the ofiice of the blood and spirits ; 
and it is gratitude that makes them circulate. Look over the 
whole creation, and you shall see, that the band or cement that 
holds together all the parts of this great and glorious fabric is 
gratitude, or something like it : you may observe it in all the ele- 
ments ; for does not the air feed the flame ? and does not the flame 
at the same time Avarm and enlighten the air? Is not the sea 
always sending forth, as Avell as taking in? and does not the 
earth quit scores Avith all the elements, in the noble fruits and 
productions that issue from it ? And in all the light and in- 
fluence that the heavens bestow upon tliis lower world, though 
the lower world cannot equal their benefaction, yet with a kind 
of grateful return, it reflects those rays that it cannot recom- 
pense : so that there is some return however, though there can 
be no requital. He who has a soul wholly void of gratitude, 
should do well to set his soul to learn of his body ; for all the 
parts of that minister to one another : the hands and all the 


other limbs labour to bring in food and provision to the stomach, 
and the stomach returns what it has received from them, in 
strength and nutriment diffused into all the parts and members 
of the body. It would be endless to pursue the like allusions : 
in short, gratitude is the great spring that sets all the wheels of 
nature a going ; and the whole universe is supported by giving 
and returning, by commerce and commutation. 

And now, thou ungratefid brute, thou blemish to mankind, 
and reproach to thy creation ; what shall we say of thee, or to 
what shall we compare thee ! For thou art an exception from 
all the \Tisible world ; neither the heavens above, nor the earth 
beneath, afford any thing like thee : and therefore, if thou 
Avouldest find thy parallel, go to hell, which is both the region 
and the emblem of ingratitude ; for besides thyself, there is 
nothing but hell that is always receiving, and never restoring. 

And thus mvich for the nature and baseness of ingratitude, as 
it has been represented in the description given of it. Come we 
now to the 

III. Tliird thing proposed, which is, to show the principle from 
ichich it proceeds. And to give you tliis in one word, it proceeds 
from that which we call Ul-nature : which being a word that 
occurs frequently in discourse, and in the characters given of 
persons, it will not be amiss to inquire into the proper sense and 
signification of this expression. In order to which we must ob- 
serve, that according to the doctrine of the philosopher, man 
being a creature designed and framed by nature for society and 
conversation, such a temper or disposition of mind, as inclines 
him to those actions that promote society and mutual fellowship, 
is properly called good-nature : which actions, though almost in- 
numerable in their particulars, yet seem reducible in general to 
two principles of action : 

1. A proneness to do good to others. 2. A ready sense of 
any good done by others. 

And where these two meet together, as they are scarce ever 
found asunder, it is impossible for that person not to be kind, 
beneficial, and obliging to all whom he converses with. On the 
contrary, ill-nature is such a disposition as inclines a man to 
those actions that thwart, and sour, and disturb conversation be- 
tween man and man ; and accordingly consists of two qualities 
directly contrary to the former : 

1. A proneness to do HI turns, attended with a complacency, 
or secret joy of mind, upon the sight of any mischief that befalls 
another. And, 2. An utter insensibility of any good or kind- 
ness done him by others. I mean not that he is insensible of the 
good itself; but that, although he finds, feels, and enjoys, the good 
that is done him, yet he is wholly insensible and unconcerned 
to value, or take notice of the benignitv of him that does it. 

N 2 


Now either of these ill qualities, and much more both of them 
together, denominate a person ill-natured, they being such as 
make him grievous and uneasy to all whom he deals and associ- 
ates himself with : for from the former of these proceed envy, 
an aptness to slander and revile, to cross and hinder a man in 
liis lawful advantages. For these and such Uke actions feed and 
gratify that base humour of mind, which gives a man a delight 
in making, at least in seeing his neighbour miserable : and from 
the latter issues that vile thino; wliich we have been hitherto 
speaking of, to wit, ingratitude, into which aU kindnesses and 
good turns fall as into a kind of dead sea: it being a quality 
that confines, and, as it were, shuts up a man wholly within 
himself, leaving him void of that principle which alone Avoidd 
disj)ose liim to communicate and impart those redundancies of 
good that he is possessed of. No man ever goes sharer with the 
ungrateful person, be he never so full he never runs over ; but, 
like Gideon's fleece, though filled and replenished with the dew 
of heaven himself, yet he leaves all dry and empty about him. 

Now this surely, if any thing, is an effect of iU-nature. And 
what is ill-nature but a pitch beyond original corruption ? It is 
corruptio pessimi ; a further depravation of that wliich Avas stark 
naught before. But so certainly does it shoot forth and show 
itself in this \ace, that wheresoever you see ingratitude, you may 
as infallibly conclude that there is a growing stock of ill-nature 
in that breast, as you may know that man to have the plague 
upon whom you see the tokens. 

Having thus shown you from whence this ill quahty proceeds, 
pass we now to the 

IV. Fourth thing proposed, which is to show, those ill quali- 
ties that inseparably attend ingratitude, and are never disjoined 
from it. 

It is a saying common in use and true in observation, that the 
disposition and temper of a man may be gathered as AveU from 
his companion or associate as from liimseh". And it holds in 
qualities as it does in persons : it being seldom or never known, 
that any great virtue or vice went alone ; for greatness in every 
thing will still be attended on. 

How black and base a vice ingratitude is we have seen, by 
considering it both in its own nature and in the jsrinciple from 
which it springs ; and we may see the same yet more fully in 
those vices which it is always in combination with: two of 
which I shall mention, as being of near cognation to it, and con- 
stant coherence with it. The first of which is pride ; and the 
second hard-heartedness, or want of compassion. 

1. And first, for pride. This is of such intimate, and even 
essential connexion Avith ingratitude, that the actings of ingrati- 
tude seem directly resolvable into pride, as the principal reason 


and cause of them. The original ground of man's obligation to 
gratitude was, as I have hinted, from this, that each man has but 
a limited right to the good things of the world ; and that the 
natural allowed way by which he is to compass the possession of 
these things, is by his own industrious acquisition of them ; and, 
consequently, when any good is dealt forth to him any other 
way than by liis own labour, he is accountable to the person 
who dealt it to him, as for a tiling to which he had no right or 
claim by any action of his own entitling him to it. 

But now, pride shuts a man's eyes against all this, and so fills 
him with an opinion of his own^ transcendent worth, that he 
imagines himself to have a right to all tilings, as well those that 
are the effects and fruits of other men's labours as of his own. 
So that, if any advantage accrues to him by the liberality and 
donation of his neighbour, he looks not upon it as a matter of 
free undeserved gift, but rather as a just homage to that worth 
and merit which he conceives to be in himself, and to which all 
the world ought to become tributary. Upon which thought, no 
wonder if he reckons himself wholly unconcerned to acknow- 
ledge or repay any good that he receives. For while the 
courteous person thinks that he is obhging and doing such a one 
a kindness, the proud person, on the other side, accounts him to 
be only paying a debt. His pride makes him even worship and 
idolize himself: and, indeed, every proud, ungrateful man has 
this property of an idol, that though he is plied with never so 
many and so great offerings, yet he takes no notice of the offerer 
at all 

Now this is the true account of the most inward movings and 
reasonings of the very heart and soul of an ungrateful person : 
so that you may rest upon this as a proposition of an eternal, 
unfaihng truth, that there neither is, nor ever was, any person 
remarkably ungrateful, who was not also insufferably proud; 
nor, convertibly, any one proud, who was not equally ungrateful. 
For as snakes breed in dunghills not singly, but in knots, so in 
such base noisome hearts, you shall ever see pride and ingrati- 
tude indivisibly wreathed and twisted together. Ingratitude 
overlooks all kindnesses, but it is because pride makes it carry 
its head so high. 

See the greatest examples of ingratitude equally notorious for 
their pride and ambition. And to begin with the top and father 
of them all, the devil himself. That excellent and glorious na- 
ture which God had obliged hmi with, could not prevent his in- 
gratitude and apostasy, when his pride bid him aspire to an 
equality with his maker, and say, " I will ascend, and be like the 
Most High." And did not our first parents write exactly after 
his copy ? ingratitude making them to trample upon the command 
because pride made them desire to be as gods, and to brave Om- 
niscience itself in the knowledge of good and evil. What made 


that ungrateful wretch Absalom kick at all the kindnesses of his 
indulgent father, but because his ambition would needs be finger- 
ing the sceptre, and hoisting him into liis father's tlrrone ? And in 
the courts of princes is there any thing more usual, than' to see 
those that have been raised by the favour and interest of some 
great minister, to trample upon the steps by which they rose, to 
rival him in his greatness, and at length, if possible, to step into 
his place? 

In a word, ingratitude is too base to return a kindness, and too 
proud to regard it : much like the tops of mountains, barren in- 
deed, but yet lofty : they produce nothing, they feed nobody, 
they clothe nobody, yet are high and stately, and look down upon 
all the world about them. 

2. The other concomitant of ingratitude is hard-heartedness, 
or want of compassion. This, at first, may seem to have no 
great cognation with ingratitude : but upon a due inspection into 
the nature of that ill quality, it will be found directly to foUow 
it, if not also to result from it. 

For the nature of ingratitude being founded in such a dispo- 
sition, as encloses all a man's concerns within himself, and con- 
sequently gives him a perfect unconcernedness in all things not 
judged by him immediately to relate to liis own interest : it is no 
wonder if the same temper of mind, wliich makes a man unap- 
prehensive of any good done him by others, makes him equally 
unapprehensive and insensible of any evil or misery sufiered by 
others ; no such thought ever strikes his marble, obdurate heart, 
but it presently flies off and rebounds from it. And the truth is, 
it is impossible for a man to be perfect and thorough-paced in 
ingratitude, till he has shaken off all fetters of pity and compas- 
sion. For all relenting and tenderness of heart makes a man but 
a puny in this sin ; it spoils the growth, and cramps the last and 
croAvning exploits of this ^dce. 

Ingratitude, indeed, put the poniard into Biiitus's hand ; but 
it was want of compassion which thrust it into Coesar's heart. 
When some fond, easy fathers think fit to strip themselves before 
they lie down to their long sleep, and to settle their whole estates 
upon their sons, has it not been too frequently seen, that the fa- 
ther has been requited with want and beggary, scorn and con- 
tempt ? But now, could bare ingratitude, think -wo, ever have 
made any one so unnatural and diabolical, had not cruelty and 
want of pity come in as a second to his assistance, and cleared the 
villain's breast of all remainders of humanity? Is it not this 
which has made so many miserable parents even curse their own 
bowels, for bringing forth children that seem to have none ? Did 
not this make Agrippina, Nero's mother, cry out to the assassin 
sent by her son to murder her, to direct liis sword to her belly, as 
being the only criminal for having brought forth such a monster 
of ingratitude into the world ? And to give you yet a higher in- 


stance of the conjunction of these two vices, since nothing could 
transcend the ingratitude and cruelty of Nero, but the ingrati- 
tude and cruelty of an imperious woman ; when Tullia, daughter 
of Servius TuUius, sixth king of Rome, having married Tar- 
quinius Superbus, and put him first upon killing her father, and 
then invading liis throne, came through the street where the body 
of her father lay newly murdered, and wallowing in his blood, she 
conunanded her trembling coachman to drive his chariot and 
horses over the body of her king and father triumphantly, in the 
face of all Rome looking upon her with astonishment and detes- 
tation. Such was the tenderness, gratitude, filial affection, and 
good nature of tliis weaker vessel. 

And then for instances out of sacred story : to go no further 
than this of Gideon. Did not ingratitude first make the Israel- 
ites forget the kindness of the father, and then cruelty make them 
imbrue their hands in the blood of his sons? Covdd Pharaoh's 
butler so quickly have forgot Joseph, had not want of gratitude 
to him as his friend, met with an equal want of compassion to 
him as his fellow-prisoner? A poor innocent, forlorn stranger, 
languishing in durance, upon the false accusations of a lying, in- 
solent, whorish w^oman ! 

I might even weary you with examples of the like nature, 
both sacred and civil, all of them representing ingratitude, as it 
were, sitting in its throne, with pride at its right hand, and cruelty 
at its left ; worthy supporters of such a stately quality, such a 
reigning impiety. 

And it has been sometimes observed, that persons signally and 
eminently obliged, yet missing of the utmost of their greedy de- 
signs in swallowing both gifts and giver too, instead of thanks for 
received kindnesses, have betaken themselves to barbarous threat- 
enings for defeat of their insatiable expectations. 

Upon the whole matter, we may firmly conclude, that ingrati- 
tude and compassion never cohabit in the same breast. Which 
remark I do here so much insist upon, to show the superlative 
malignity of this vice, and the baseness of the mind in which it 
dweUs : for we may with great confidence and equal truth affirm, 
that since there was such a thing as mankind in the world, there 
never was any heart truly great and generous, that was not also 
tender and compassionate. It is this noble c|uality, that makes 
all men to be of one kind ; for every man would be, as it were, 
a distinct species to himself, were there no sympathy amongst 

And thus I have done with the fourth thing proposed, and 
shown the two vices that inseparably attend ingratitude. And 
now, if falsehood also should chance to strike in as the third, and 
make up the triumvirate of its attendants, so that ingratitude, 
pride, craelty, and falsehood should all meet together, and join 
forces in the same person ; as not only ',ery often, iDiit for the 


most part they do ; in this case, if the devils themselves should 
take bodies, and come and live amongst us, they covild not be 
greater plagues and grievances to society than such persons. 

From what has been said, let no man ever think to meet in- 
gratitude single and alone. It is one of those " grapes of gall" 
mentioned by Moses, Deut. xxxii. 32, and therefore expect al- 
ways to find it one of a cluster. I proceed now to the 

V. Fifth and last thing proposed, which is, to draio some useful 
consequences, by way of application, from the premises. As, 

1. Never enter into a league of friendship with an ungrateful 
person : that is, plant not thy friendship upon a dunghill ; it is 
too noble a j^lant for so base a soil. Friendship consists properly 
in mutual offices, and a generous strife in alternate acts of kind- 
ness. But he who does a kindness to an ungrateful person 
sets his seal to a flint, and sows his seed upon the sand ; upon 
the former he makes no impression, and from the latter he finds 
no production. 

The only voice of ingratitude is. Give, give ; but when the 
gift is once received, then, like the swine at his trough, it is silent 
and insatiable. In a word, the ungrateful person is a monster 
which is all throat and belly ; a kind of thoroughfare, or common 
shore, for the good things of the world to pass into; and of 
whom, in respect of all kindnesses conferred on him, may be veri- 
fied that observation of the lions' den; before which appeared 
the footsteps of many that had gone in thither, but no prints of 
any that ever came out thence. The ungrateful person is the 
only thing in nature, for which nobody living is the better. He 
lives to himself, and subsists by the good nature of others, of 
Avhich he himself has not the least grain. He is a mere encroach- 
ment upon society, and consequently ought to be thrust out of 
the world, as a pest, and a prodigy, and a creature of the devil's 
making, and not of God's. 

2. As a man tolerably discreet ought by no means to attempt 
the making of such a one liis friend ; so neither is he, in the 
next place, to presume to think that he shall be able so much as 
to alter or meliorate the humour of an ungi-ateful person by 
any acts of kindness, though never so frequent, never so obliging. 

Philosophy will teach the learned, and experience may teach 
all, that it is a tiling hardly feasible. For love such a one, and 
he shall despise you : commend him, and, as occasion serves, he 
shall revile you : give to him, and he shall but laugh at your 
easiness : save his life, but when you have done, look to your 

The greatest favours to such a one are but like the motion of 
a ship upon the waves ; they leave no trace, no sign behind them; 
they neither soften, nor win upon him ; they neither melt, nor 
endear him ; but leave him as hard, as rugged, and as uncon- 


cerned as ever. All kindnesses descend upon such a temper, ag 
showers of rain or rivers of fresh water falling into the main sea : 
the sea swallows them aU, but is not at all changed or sweetened 
by them. I may truly say of the mind of an ungrateful person, 
that it is kindness-proof. It is impenetrable, unconquerable; 
unconquerable by that which conquers all things else, even by 
love itself. Flints may be melted, we see it daily, but an un- 
grateful heart cannot ; no, not by the strongest and the noblest 
flame. After all your attempts, ally our experiments, for any 
thing that man can do, he that is ungrateful will be ungrateful 
stilL And the reason is manifest; for you may remember 
that I told you, that ingratitude sprang from a principle of ill- 
nature ; which being a thing founded in such a certain constitu- 
tion of blood and spirit, as, being born with a man into the world, 
and upon that account called nature, shall prevent all remedies 
that can be applied by education, and leaves such a bias upon the 
mind, as is beforehand with all instruction. 

So that you shall seldom or never meet with an ungrateful 
person, but if you look backward, and trace him up to his 
original, you will find that he was born so ; and if you could 
look forward enough, it is a thousand to one, but you would find 
that he also dies so : for you shall never light upon an iU-natured 
man, who was not also an ill-natured child; and gave several 
testimonies of his being so, to discerning persons, long before 
the use of his reason. 

The thread that nature spins is seldom broken off by any thing 
but death. I do not by this limit the operation of God's grace, 
for that may do wonders ; but humanly speaking, and according 
to the method of the world and the little correctives supplied by 
art and discipline, it seldom fails but an ill principle has its course, 
and nature makes good its blow. And therefore, where ingrati- 
tude begins remarkably to show itself, he surely judges most 
wisely, wdio takes the alarm betimes ; and arguing the fountain 
from the stream, concludes that there is iU-nature at the bottom ; 
and so reducing his judgment into practice, timely withdraws his 
frustraneous, baffled kindnesses, and sees the folly of endeavour- 
ing to stroke a tiger into a lamb, or to court an Ethiopian out of 
his colour. 

3. In the thii-d and last place. Wheresoever you see a man 
notoriously imgrateful, rest assured that there is no true sense of 
religion in that person. You know the apostle's argument, in 
1 John iv. 20, " He who loveth not his brother whom he hath 
seen, how can be love God whom he hath not seen ?" So by an 
exact parity of reason, we may argue : If a man has no sense 
of those kindnesses that pass upon him, from one like himself, 
whom he sees and knows, and converses with sensibly ; how 
much less shall his heart be afifected with the gi'ateful sense of 
his favours, whom he converses with only by imperfect specula- 


tions, by the discourses of reason, or the discoveries of faith ; 
neither of which equal the quick and lively impressions of sense ? 
If the apostle's reasoning was good and concluding, I am sure 
this must be unavoidable. 

But the thing is too evident to need any proof. For shall 
that man pass for a proficient in Christ's school, who would have 
been exploded in the school of Zeno or Epictetus ? Or shall he 
attend to religious attainments, who is defective and short in 
moral? which yet are but the rudiments, the beginnings, and 
first draught of religion; as religion is the perfection, the re- 
finement, and the sublimation of morality : so that it still pre- 
supposes it, it builds upon it ; and grace never adds the super- 
structure, where virtue has not laid the foundation. There may 
be virtue, indeed, and yet no grace ; but grace is never without 
virtue: and therefore, though gratitude does not infer grace, 
it is certain that ino-ratitude does exclude it. 

Think not to put God off by frequenting prayers, and sermons, 
and sacraments, while thy brother has an action against thee in 
the court of heaven ; an action of debt, of that clamorous and 
great debt of gratitude: rather as our Saviour commands, 
" Leave thy gift upon the altar," and first go and clear accounts 
with thy brother. God scorns a gift from him who has not jjaid 
his debts. Every ungrateful person, in the sight of God and 
man, is a thief; and let him not make the altar his receiver. 
"VVliere there is no charity, it is certain there can be no religion : 
and can that man be charitable, who is not so much as just ? 

In every benefaction between man and man, man is only the 
dispenser, but God the benefactor ; and therefore, let all un- 
grateful ones know, that where gratitude is the debt, God him- 
self is the chief creditor; who, though he causes "his sun to 
shine and his rain to fall upon the evil and unthankful in this 
world," has another kind of reward for their unthankfulness in 
the next. 

To which God, the great searcher and judge of hearts, and 
rewarder of men according to their deeds, be rendered and 
ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, majesty, and dominion, 
both now and for evermore. Amen. 





[Preached at Christ Church, Oxon, before the University, October 14, 1688.] 

Prov. xil 22. 

Lying lips are abomination to the Lord. 

I AM very sensible, that by discoursing of lies and falsehood, 
which I have pitched upon for my present subject, I must needs 
fall into a very large common place ; though yet, not by half so 
large and common as the practice : nothing in nature being so 
universally decried, and withal so universally practised, as false- 
hood. So that most of those tilings, that have the mightiest and 
most controlling influence upon the affairs and course of the 
world, are neither better nor worse than downright lies. For 
what is common fame, which sounds from all quarters of the 
world, and resomids back to them again, but generally a loud, 
rattling, impudent, overbearing lie ? What are most of the his- 
tories of the Avorld, but lies ; lies immortahzed, and consigned 
over as a perpetual abuse and flam upon posterity ? What are 
most of the jjromises of the world, but lies ? of which we need 
no other proof, but our own experience. And what are most of 
the oaths in the world but lies ? and such as need rather a pardon 
for being taken, than a dispensation from being kept. And 
lastly, what are all the religions of the world, except Judaism 
and Christianity, but lies ? And even in Christianity itself, are 
there not those who teach, warrant, and defend lying ; and scarce 
use the bible for any other purpose, but to swear upon it, and to 
lie against it ? 

Thus a mighty, governing lie goes round the world, and has 
almost banished truth out of it ; and so reigning triumphantly in 
its stead, is the true source of most of those confusions and dire 
calamities that infest and plague the universe. For look over 
them aU, and you shall find, that the greatest annoyance and dis- 
turbance of mankind has been from one of these two things, force 
or fraud : of which, as boisterous and violent a thing as force is, 
yet it rarely achieves any thing considerable, but under the con- 
duct of fraud. Sleight of hand has done that which force of 
hand could never do. 

But why do we speak of hands ? It is the tongue that drives 
the world before it. The tongue, and the lying lip, which there 
is no fence against : for when that is the weapon, a man may 


strike where he cannot reach ; and a word shall do execution both 
further and deeper than the mightiest blow. For the hand can 
hardly lift up itself high enough to strike, but it must be seen, 
so that it warns while it threatens : but a false, insidious tongue 
may whisper a lie so close and low, that though you have ears to 
hear, yet you shall not hear ; and indeed, we generally come to 
know it, not by hearing, but by feeling what it says. 

A man, perhaps, casts his eye this way and that way, and looks 
round about him to spy out his enemy, and to defend himself ; 
but, alas ! the fatal mischief, that would trip up his heels, is all 
the while under them. It works invisibly, and beneath ; and the 
shocks of an earthquake, Ave know, are much more dreadful than 
the highest and loudest blusters of a storm. For there may be 
some shelter against the violence of the one, but no security 
against the hoUowness of the other, wliich never opens its bosom, 
but for a killing embrace. The bowels of the earth in such 
cases, and the mercies of the false in all, being equally Avithout 

Upon the Avhole matter, it is hard to assign any one thing, but 
lying, which God and man so unanimously join in the hatred of; 
and it is as hard to tell, whether it does a greater dishonour to 
God, or miscliief to man ; it is certainly an abomination to both ; 
and I hope to make it appear such in the following discourse : 
though I must confess myself very unable to speak to the utmost 
latitude of this subject ; and I thank God that I am so. 

Now the words of the text are a plain, entire, categorical pro- 
position ; and therefore I shall not go about to darken them by 
any needless explication, but shall immediately cast the prosecu- 
tion of them under these three following particulars : as, 

I. I shall inquire into the nature of a lie, and the proper 
essential malignity of all falsehood. 

II. I shall show the pernicious effects of it. And, 

III. Lastly, I shall lay before you the rewards and punish- 
ments that will certainly attend, or at least follow it. 

Every one of which, I suppose, and much more all of them 
together, will afford argmiients, more than sufficient to prove, 
though it Avere no part of holy scripture, that "lying lips are 
an abomination to the Lord." 

And first, for the first of these : 

I. Wliat a lie is, and wherein the nature of it does consist. A 
lie is properly an outward signification of something contrary to, 
or at least beside the iuAvard sense of the mind; so that when 
one thing is signified or expressed, and the same thing not meant 
or intended, that is properly a lie. 

And forasmuch as God has endued man Avitli a poAver or facul- 
ty to institute or appoint signs of his thoughts; and that, by 
virtue hereof, he can appoint not only Avorcls, but also things. 


actions, and gestures, to be signs of the inward thoughts and 
conceptions of his mind, it is evident, that he may as really lie 
and deceive by actions and gestures, as he can by words : foras- 
much as, in the nature of them, they are as capable of being 
made signs ; and consequently, of being as much abused and 
misapplied as the other : though, for distinction sake, a deceiving 
by words is commonly called a lie, and a deceiving by actions, 
gestures, or behaviour, is called simulation, or hypocrisy. 

The nature of a lie, therefore, consists in this, that it is a false 
signification knowingly and voluntarily used ; in which the sign 
expressing is noways agreeing Avith the thought or concejDtion of 
the mind pretended to be thereby expressed. For words signify 
not immediately and primely things themselves, but the concep- 
tions of the mind concerning things ; and therefore, if there be 
an agreement between our words and our thoughts, we do not 
speak falsely, though it sometimes so falls out, that our words 
agree not with the things themselves : upon which account, 
though in so speaking we offend indeed against truth, yet we 
offend not properly by falsehood, which is a speaking against our 
thoughts ; but by rashness, wliich is an affii-ming or denying, be- 
fore we have sufficiently informed oui-selves of the real and true 
estate of those tilings whereof we affirm or deny. 

And thus having shown what a lie is, and wherein it does con- 
sist ; the next consideration is, of the lawfulness or unlawfulness 
of it. And in this we have but too sad and scandalous an in- 
stance both of the corruption and weakness of man's reason, and 
of the strange bias that it still receives from interest, that such a 
case as this, both with philosophers and divines, heathens and 
Christians, should be held disputable. 

Plato accounted it lawful for statesmen and governors, and so 
did Cicero and Plutarch ; and the Stoics, as some say, reckoned 
it amongst the arts and perfections of a wise man, to lie dexter- 
ously, in due time and place. And for some of the ancient 
doctors of the Christian church, such as Origen, Clemens Alex- 
andrinus, Tertullian, Lactantius, and Chrysostom ; and generally, 
all before St. Austin, several passages have fallen from them, 
that speak but too favourably of this thing. So that Paul Lay- 
man, a Romish casuist, says, that it is a truth but lately known, 
and received in the world, that a lie is absolutely sinful and un- 
lawful. I suppose he means, that part of the world where the 
scriptures are not read, and where men care not to know what 
they are not willing to practise. 

But then, for the mitigation of what has proceeded from these 
great men, we must take in that known and celebrated division 
of a lie into those three several kinds of it : as, 

1. The pernicious lie, uttered for the hui-t or disadvantage of 
our neighbour. 2. The officious lie, uttered for our own, or our 
neighbour's advantage. And 3, and lastly, The ludicrous and 


jocose He uttered by Avay of jest, and only for mirth's sake, in 
common converse. 

Now for the first of these, which is the pernicious lie ; it was 
and is universally condemned by all : but the other two have 
found some patronage from the writings of those forementioned 
authors. The reason of which seems to be, that those persons 
did not estimate the lawfulness or unlawfulness of a lie, from 
the intrinsic nature of the thing itself, but either from those ex- 
ternal effects that it produced, or from those ends to which it 
was directed ; which, accordingly as they proved either helpful 
or hurtful, innocent or offensive, so the lie was reputed either 
lawful or unlawful. And therefore, since a man was helped by 
an officious lie, and not hvirt by a jocose, both of these came to 
be esteemed lawful, and in some cases laudable. 

But the schoolmen and casuists having too much philosophy to 
go about to clear a lie from that intrinsic inordination and devia- 
tion from right reason inherent in the nature of it, and yet withal 
unwilling to rob the world, and themselves especially, of so sweet 
a morsel of liberty, held that a lie was indeed absolutely and 
universally sinful ; but then they held also, that only the j)er- 
nicious He was a mortal sin, and the other two were only venial. 
It can be no part of my business here to overthrow this distinc- 
tion, and to show the nullity of it ; wliich has been soHdly and 
sufficiently done by most of our polemic writers of the protestant 
church. But at present I shaU only take this their confession, 
that every lie is sinful, and consequently unlawful ; and if it be 
a sin, I shall suppose it ah-eady proved to my hands to be, what 
aU sin essentially is and must be, mortal. So that thus far have 
we gone, and this point have we gained, that it is absolutely and 
universally unlawful to lie or to falsify. 

Let us now, in the next place, inquire from whence this un- 
lawfulness springs, and upon what it is grounded. To which I 
answer; that upon the principles of natural reason, the unlaw- 
fulness of lying is grounded upon this, that a lie is properly a 
sort or species of injustice, and a violation of the right of that 
person to whom the false speech is directed ; for all speaking, or 
signification of one's mind, implies, in the nature of it, an act or 
address of one man to another ; it being evident, that no man, 
though he does speak false, can be said to lie to himself. 

Now to show what this right is, we must know, that in the 
beginnings and first establislunents of speech, there was an implicit 
compact amongst men, founded upon common use and consent, 
that such and such words or voices, actions or gestures, should be 
means or signs, whereby they Avould express or convey their 
thought one to another ; and that men should be obHged to use 
them for that purpose ; forasmuch as, without such an obHgation, 
those signs could not be eftsctual for such an end. From which 
compact there arising an obligation upon every one so to convey 


his meaning, there accrues also a right to every one, by the same 
signs, to judge of the sense or meaning of the person so obliged 
to express himself: and, consequently, if these signs are applied 
and used by hmi so as not to signify his meaning, the right of 
the pei'son, to Avhom he was obhged so to have done, is hereby 
violated; and the man, by being deceived, and kept ignorant 
of Iris neighbour's meaning, where he ought to have known it, 
is so far deprived of the benefit of any intercourse or converse 
with him. 

From hence therefore Ave see, that the original reason of the 
unlawfulness of lying or deceiving, is, that it carries with it an 
act of injustice, and a violation of the right of him to Avhom we 
were obliged to signify or impart our minds, if we spoke to hmi 
at all. 

But then we must observe also, which I noted at first, that as 
it is in man's power to institute not only Avords, but also things, 
actions, or gestures, to be the means whereby he Avould signify 
and express his mind ; so, on the other side, those voices, actions, 
or gestures, which men have not by any compact agreed to make 
the instruments of conveying their thoughts one to another, are 
not the proper instruments of deceiving, so as to denominate the 
person using them a liar or deceiver, though the person, to Avhom 
they are addressed, takes occasion from thence to foiTa in his 
mind a false apprehension or belief of the thoughts of those who 
use such voices, actions, or gestures towards him. I say, in this 
case, the person using these things cannot be said to deceive ; 
since all deception is a misapplying of those signs, which, by 
compact or institution, were made the means of men's signifying 
or conveying their thoughts ; but here, a man only does those 
things, from Avhich another takes occasion to decei\^e himself: 
Avhich one consideration Avill solve most of those difficulties that 
are usually started on this subject. 

But yet this I do and must grant, that though it be not against 
strict justice or truth for a man to do those things which he 
might otherAvise laAvfuUy do, albeit his neighbour does take occa- 
sion from thence to concei\'e in his mind a false belief, and so to 
deceive himself; yet Christian charity will, in many cases, 
restrain a man here too, and prohibit him to use his OAvn right 
and liberty, where it may turn considerably to his neighbour's 
prejudice. For herein is the excellency of charity seen, that the 
charitable man not only does no evil himself, but that, to the 
utmost of his power, he also hinders any e\dl from being done 
e\en by another. 

And as we haA'e shoAvn and proved that lying and deceiving 
stand condemned upon the principles of natural justice, and the 
eternal laAv of right reason ; so are the same much more con- 
demned, and that Avith the sanction of the highest penalties, by 
the law of Christianity, Avhich is eminently and transcendently 

192 DR. SOUTH's sermons. [sERiNT. XII. 

called the truth, and the word of truth ; and in nothing more 
surpasses all the doctrines and religions in the world, than in 
this, that it enjoins the clearest, the openest, and the sincerest 
dealing, both in words and actions ; and is the rigidest exacter 
of truth in all our behavioui', of any other doctrine or institution 

And thus much for the first general thing proposed, wliich was, 
to inquire into the nature of a lie, and the proper, essential 
malignity of all falsehood. I proceed now to the 

II. Wliich is to show the ■pernicious effects of it. Some of the 
chief and most remarkable of which are these that follow : as, 

1. First of all, it was this that introduced sin into the world. 
For how came our first parents to sin, and to lose their primitive 
innocence ? Why, they were deceived, and by the subtlety of 
the devil brought to believe a lie. And indeed deceit is of the 
very essence and nature of sin, there being no sinful action, but 
there is a lie wrapped up in the bowels of it. For sin prevails 
upon the soul by representing that as suitable and desirable, that 
really is not so. And no man is ever mduced to sin, but by a 
persuasion, that he shall find some good and hai^piness in it, which 
he had not before. The wages that sin bargains with the sinner 
to serve it for, are life, pleasure, and profit ; but the wages it 
pays him with, are death, torment, and destruction. He that 
would understand the falsehood and deceit of sin thoroughly, 
must compare its promises and its payments together. 

And as the devil first brought sin into the world by a lie, 
being equally the base original of both, so he still propagates and 
promotes it by the same. The devil reigns over none but those 
whom he first deceives. Geographers and historians, dividing 
the habitable world into thirty parts, give us this account of 
them : that but five of those tliirty are Christian ; and for the 
rest, six of them are Jew and Mahometan, and the remaining nine- 
teen perfectly heathen ; all which he holds and governs by possess- 
ing them with a lie, and bewitching them with a false religion. 
Like the moon and the stars, he rules by night ; and his kingdom, 
even in this world, is perfectly a kingdom of darkness. And 
therefore our Sa\aoiir, who came to dethrone the devil, and to 
destroy sin, did it by being "the light of the world," and by 
"bearing witness to the truth." For so far as truth gets ground 
in the world, so far sin loses it. Christ saves the world by 
undeceiving it, and sanctifies the AviU by first enlightening the 

2. A second effect of lying and falsehood is all that misery and 
calamity that befalls mankind. For the proof of which, we need 
go no further than the former consideration ; for sorrow being 
the natural and direct effect of sin, that which first brought sin 
into the world, must by necessary consequence bring in sorrow 


too. Shame and pain, poverty and sickness, yea, death and hell 
itself, are all of them but the trophies of those fatal conquests, 
got by that grand impostor the devil over the deluded sons of 
men. And hardly can any example be produced of a man in 
extreme misery, who was not one way or other first deceived 
into it. For have not the greatest slaughters of armies been 
effected by stratagem? and have not the fairest estates been 
destroyed by suretiship ? In both of which there is a fallacy, and 
the man is overreached, before he is overthrown. 

Wliat betrayed and dehvered the poor old prophet into the 
lion's mouth, 1 Kings xiii., but the mouth of a false prophet, 
much the crueller and more remorseless of the two ? How came 
John Huss and Jerome of Prague to be so cruelly and basely 
used by the council of Constance, these ecclesiastical commis- 
sioners of the court of Rome ? Why, they promised those 
innocent men a safe conduct, who thereupon took them at their 
word, and accordingly were burnt alive for trusting a pack of 
perfidious wretches, who regarded their own word as little as 
they did God's.* 

And how came so many bonfires to be made in queen Mary's 
days ? Why, she had abused and deceived her people with lies, 
promising them the free exercise of their religion before she got 
into the throne ; and when she was once in, she performed her 
promise to them at the stake. And I know no security we had 
from seeing the same again in our days, but one or two procla- 
mations forbidding bonfires. Some sorts of promises are edged 
tools, and it is dangerous laying hold on them. 

But to pass from thence to fanatic treachery, that is, from one 
twin to the other. How came such multitudes of our own 
nation, at the beginning of that monstrous (but still surviving 
and successful) rebellion, in the year IG^l^ to be spimged of their 
plate and money, their rings and jewels, for the carrying on of 
the schismatical, dissenting, king-killing cause ? Why, next to 
their own love of being cheated, it was the public, or rather pros- 
titute faith of a company of faitliless miscreants that drew them 
in, and deceived them. And how came so many thousands to 
fight and die in the same rebellion ? Why, they were deceived 
into it by those spiritual trumpeters, who followed them with 
continual alarms of damnation, if they did not venture life, for- 
tune, and all, in that which wickedly and devilishly those impos- 
tors called the cause of God. So that I myself have heard onef 
say, whose quarters have since hung about that city, where he 
first had been deceived, that he, with many more, went to 

* Of which last see an instance in the 13th session of this council, in which it decrees, 
with a non obstante to Christ's express institution of the blessed eucharist in both kinds, 
that the contrary custom and practice of receiving it only in one kind, ought to be ac- 
counted and observed as a law ; and that, if the priest should administer it otherwise, he 
was to be excommunicated. 

t Colonel Ax tell, 
VOL. I. O 

194 DR. SOUTH's sermons. ^SERM. XII. 

that execrable war with such a controlling horror upon their 
spirits, from those sermons,* that they verily believed they 
should have been accursed by God for ever, if they had not acted 
their part in that dismal tragedy, and heartily done the devil's 
work, being so effectually called and connnanded to it in God's 

Infinite would it be to pursue all instances of this nature : but 
consider those grand agents and lieutenants of the devil, by 
whom he scourges and plagues the world under him, to wit, 
tyrants ; and was there ever any tyrant since the creation who 
was not also false and perfidious ? Do not the bloody and de- 
ceitful men still go hand in hand together, in the language of 
the scripture, Ps. Iv. 23 ? Was ever any people more cruel, and 
Avithal more false than the Carthaginians? And had not the 
hypocritical contrivers of the murder of that blessed martyr 
king Charles the first, their masks and vizards, as well as his 
executioners ? 

No man that designs to rob another of his estate or life, will 
be so impudent or ignorant as in plain terms to tell him so. 
But if it be his estate that he drives at, he wiU dazzle his eyes, 
and bait him in with the luscious proposal of some gainful pur- 
chase, some rich match, or advantageous project ; till the easy 
man is caught and hampered ; and so, partly by lies, and partly 
by law-suits together, comes at length to be stripped of all, and 
brought to a piece of bread when he can get it. Or if it be a 
man's life that the malice of his enemy seeks after, he will not 
presently clap liis pistol to his breast, or his knife to his throat, 
but will rather take Absalom for his pattern, who invited his 
dear brother to a feast, hugged and embraced, courted and 
caressed him, till he had well dosed his weak head with wine, 
and his foolish heart with confidence and credulity ; and then, in 
he brings him an old reckoning, and makes him pay it ofi" with 
his blood. Or, perhaps, the cut-throat may rather take his copy 
from the Parisian massacre, one of the horridest instances of 
barbarous inhumanity that ever the world saw, but ushered in 
with all the pretences of amity, and the festival treats of a 
reconciling marriage ; a new and excellent way, no doubt, of 
pro^dng matrimony a sacrament. But such butchers know what 
they have to do ; they must soothe and allure before they strike : 
and the ox must be fed before he is brought to the slaughter; 
and the same course must be taken with some sort of asses too. 

In a word, I verily believe, that no sad disaster ever yet befell 
any person or people, nor any villany or flagitious action was 
ever yet committed, but upon a due inquiry into the causes of 
it, it will be found, that a lie was first or last the principal engine 
to effect it : and that, whether pride, lust, or cruelty brought it 

* He particularly mentioned those of Bi-ooks and Calamy. 


forth, it was falsehood that begot it ; this gave it being, whatso- 
ever other vice might give it birth. 

3. As we have seen how much lying and falsehood disturbs ; 
so, in the next place, we shall see also how it tends utterly to 
dissolve society. There is no doubt but all the safety, happiness, 
and convenience that men enjoy in this life, is from the combi- 
nation of particular persons into societies or corporations: the 
cause of which is compact; and the band that knits together 
and supports all compacts, is truth and faithfulness. So that 
the soul and spirit that animates and keeps up society, is mutual 
trust ; and the foundation of trust is truth, either known, or at 
least supposed in the persons so trusted. 

But now, where fraud and falsehood, like a plague or canker, 
comes once to invade society, the band which held together the 
parts compounding it, presently breaks, and men are thereby put 
to a loss where to league and to fasten their dependencies, and 
so are forced to scatter and sliift every one for hmiself. Upon 
which account every notoriously false person ought to be looked 
upon and detested as a public enemy, and to be pursued as a 
wolf or a mad dog, and a disturber of the common peace and 
welfare of mankind ; there being no particular person whatsoever 
but has his private interest concerned and endangered in the 
mischief that such a wretch does to the public. 

For look into great families, and you shall find some one false, 
paltry talebearer, who, by carrying stories from one to another, 
shall inflame the minds, and discompose the quiet of the whole 
family: and from families pass to towns or cities, and two or 
three pragmatical, intriguing, meddling fellows (men of business 
some call them) by the venom of theii* false tongues, shall set 
the whole neighbourhood together by the ears. Where men 
practise falsehood, and show tricks with one another, there will 
be perpetual suspicions, evil surmisings, doubts, and jealousies, 
which, by souring the minds of men, are the bane and pest of 
society. For still society is built upon trust, and trust upon the 
confidence that men have of one another's integrity. 

And tliis is so evident, that without trusting, there could not 
only be no happiness, but indeed no living in this world. For 
in those very things that minister to the daily necessities of 
common life, how can any one be assured that the very meat and 
drink that he is to take into his body, and the clothes he is to 
put on, are not poisoned, and made unwholesome for him, before 
ever they are brought to him ? Nay, in some places (with horror 
be it spoken), how can a man be secure in taking the very sacra- 
ment itself? For there have been those who have found some- 
thing in this spiritual food that has proved very fatal to their 
bodies, and more than prepared them for another world. I say, 
how can any one warrant himself in the use of these things 
against such suspicions, but in the trust he has in the common 

o 2 

196 DR. SOUTh's sermons. QsERM. XII. 

honesty and truth of men in general, which ought and uses to 
keep them from such villanies ? Nevertheless know this cer- 
tainly beforehand he cannot, forasmuch as such things have been 
done, and consequently may be done again. And therefore, as 
for any infallible assurance to the contrary, he can have none : 
but, in the great concerns of life and health, every man must be 
forced to proceed upon trust, there being no knowing the inten- 
tion of the cook or baker, any more than of the priest himself. 
And yet, if a man should forbear his food, or raiment, or most 
of his business in the world, till he had science and certainty of 
the safeness of what he was going about, he must starve, and die 
disputing ; for there is neither eating, nor drinking, nor Uving by 

NoAv tliis shows the high malignity of fraud and falsehood, 
that, in the direct and natural course of it, tends to the destruc- 
tion of common Ufe, by destroying that trust and mutual confi- 
dence that men would have in one another, by which the common 
intercourse of the world must be carried on, and without which 
men must first distrust, and then divide, separate, and stand 
upon their guard, with their hand against every one, and every 
one's hand against them. 

The felicity of societies and bodies poHtic consists in this, that 
all relations in them do regularly discharge their respective 
duties and offices ; such as are the relations between prince and 
subject, master and servant, a man and his friend, husband and 
wife, parent and child, buyer and seller, and the like. But now, 
where fraud and falsehood take place, there is not one of all these 
that is not perverted, and that does not, from a help of society, 
directly become a hinderance. For first, it turns all above us 
into tyranny and barbarity ; and all of the same religion and 
level with us into discord and confusion. It is this alone that 
poisons that sovereign and divine thing called friendship ; so that 
when a man thinks that he leans upon a breast as loving and true 
to him as his own, he finds that he relies upon a broken reed, that 
not only basely fails, but also cruelly pierces the hand that rests 
upon it. It is from this, that when a man thinks he has a ser- 
vant or dependent, an instrument of his affairs, and a defence of 
his person, he finds a traitor and a Judas, an enemy that eats 
his bread and lies under his roof; and perhaps readier to do him 
a mischief and a shrewd turn than an open and professed adver- 
sary. And lastly, from this deceit and falsehood it is, that when 
a man thinks himself matched to one, who, by the laws of God 
and nature, should be a comfort to him in all conditions, a con- 
sort of his cares, and a companion in all his concerns, instead 
thereof, he finds in his bosom a beast, a serpent, and a devil. 

In a word : he that has to do with a liar, knows not where he 
is, nor what he does, nor with whom he deals. He walks upon 
bogs and whirlpools ; wheresoever he treads he sinks, and converses 


with a bottomless pit, where it is impossible for him to fix, or to 
be at any certainty. In fine, he catches at an apple of Sodom, 
which, though it may entertain his eye with a florid, jolly white 
and red, yet, upon the touch, it shall fill his hand only with stench 
and foulness ; fair in look, and rotten at heart ; as the gayest and 
most taking tilings and persons in the world generally are. 

4. And lastly : deceit and falsehood do, of all other ill quali- 
ties, most peculiarly indispose the hearts of men to the impres- 
sions of religion. For these are sins perfectly spiritual, and so 
prepossess the proper seat and place of religion, wliich is the soul 
or spirit : and, Avhen that is once filled and taken up with a lie, 
there will hardly be admission or room for truth. Christianity 
is known in scripture by no name so significantly, as by the sim- 
plicity of the gospel. 

And if so, does it not look like the greatest paradox and pro- 
digy in nature, for any one to pretend it lawful to equivocate or 
lie for it? To face God and outface man, with the sacrament 
and a lie in one's mouth together? Can a good intention, or 
rather a very wicked one, so miscalled, sanctify and transform 
perjury and hypocrisy into merit and perfection ? Or can there 
be a greater blot cast upon any church or religion, whatsoever it 
be, than by such a practice ? For will not the world be induced 
to look upon my religion as a lie, if I allow myself to lie for my 
religion ? 

The very life and soul of all religion is sincerity. And there- 
fore the good ground, in which alone the immortal seed of the 
word spi'ang up to perfection, is said, in St. Luke viii. 15, to have 
been those that " received it into an honest heart ;" that is, a 
plain, clear, and well meaning heart ; a heart not doubled, nor 
cast into the various folds and windings of a dodging, shifting, 
hypocrisy. For the truth is, the more spiritual and refined any 
sin is, the more hardly is the soul cured of it ; because the more 
difficultly convinced. And in all our spiritual maladies conviction 
must still begin the cure- 
Such sins, indeed, as are acted by the body, do quickly show 
and proclaim themselves ; and it is no such hard matter to con- 
vince or run down a drunkard, or an unclean person, and to stop 
their mouths, and to answer any pretences that they can allege 
for their sin. But deceit is such a sin as a Pharisee may be 
guilty of, and yet stand fair for the reputation of zeal and strict- 
ness, and a more than ordinary exactness in religion. And 
though some have been apt to account none sinful or vicious, but 
such as wallow in the mire and dirt of gross sensuality ; yet, no 
doubt, deceit, falsehood, and hypocrisy, are more directly contrary 
to the very essence and design of religion, and carry in them 
more of the express image and superscription of the devil than 
an5^ bodily sins whatsoever. How did that false, fasting, impe- 
rious, self-admu-ing, or rather self-adoring hypocrite, in St. Luke 

198 DR. south's sermons. [^serm. xu. 

xviil. 11, crow and insiilt over the poor publican ! " God, I thank 
thee," says he, "that I am not like other men." And God forbid, 
say I, that there should be many others like him, for a glistering 
outside, and a noisome inside, for " tithing mint and cummin, and 
for devouring widows' houses ;" that is, for taking ten parts from 
his neighbour, and putting God off with one. After all which, 
had this man of merit and mortification been called to account 
for his ungodly swallow, in gorging down the estates of helpless 
widows and orphans, it is odds but he would have told you, that 
it was all for charitable uses, and to afford pensions for spies and 
proselytes : it being no ordinary piece of spiritual good hus- 
bandry, to be charitable at other men's cost. 

But such sons of Abraham, how highly soever they may have 
the luck to be thought of, are far from being Israelites indeed ; 
for the character that our Saviour gives us of such, in the person 
of Nathanael, in John i. 47, is, " that they are without guile." 
To be so, I confess, is generally reckoned, of late times especially, 
a poor, mean, sneaking tiling ; and the contrary, reputed wit 
and parts, and fitness for business, as the word is : though I 
doubt not but it will be one day found, that only honesty and 
integrity can fit a man for the main business that he was sent 
into the world for ; and that he certainly is the greatest wit who 
is wise to salvation. 

And thus much for the second general thing proposed ; which 
was, to show the pernicious effects of lying and falsehood. Come 
we now to the 

III. And last; which is, to lay before you the reivards or 
punishments that will assuredly attend, or at least follow this base 

I shall mention three ; as, 

1. An utter loss of all credit and behef with sober and discreet 
persons ; and consequently, of all capacity of being useful in the 
prime and noblest concerns of life. For there cannot be imagined 
in nature a more forlorn, useless, and contemptible tool, or more 
unfit for any thing, than a discovered cheat. And let men rest 
assured of this, that there will be always some as able to discover 
and find out deceitful tricks, as others can be to contrive them. 
For God forbid, that aU the wit and cunning of the world should 
still run on the deceiver's side ; and when such little shifts and 
shuffling arts come once to be ripped up and laid open, how 
poorly and wretchedly must that man needs sneak, who finds 
himself both guilty and baffled too ! a knave without luck, is 
certainly the worst trade in the world. But truth makes the face 
of that person shine, who speaks and owns it ; while a lie is like 
a vizard, that may cover the face indeed, but can never become 
it ; nor yet does it cover it so but that it leaves it open enough for 
phame. It brands a man with a lasting, indelible character of 


ignoniiny and reproach, and that indeed so foul and odious, that 
those usui-ping hectors, who pretend to honour without religion, 
think the charge of a lie, a blot upon them not to be washed out, 
but by the blood of him that gives it. 

For what place can that man fill in a commonwealth, whom no 
body will either believe or employ ? And no man can be con- 
siderable in himself, Avho has not made himself useful to others : 
nor can any man be so, who is incapable of a trust : he is neither 
fit for counsel or friendship, for service or command, to be in office 
or in honour ; but, like salt that has lost its savour, fit only to rot 
and perish upon a dunghill. 

For no man can rely upon siich a one, either with safety to 
his affairs or without a slur to his reputation ; since he that 
trusts a knave has no other recompence, but to be accounted a 
fool for his pains. And if he trusts himself into ruin and beg- 
gary, he falls unpitied, a sacrifice to his own folly and credulity ; 
for he that suffers himself to be imposed upon by a known de- 
ceiver, goes jDartner in the cheat and deceives himself. He is 
desj)ised and laughed at as a soft and easy person, and as unfit 
to be relied upon for his weakness, as the other can be for his 

It is really, a great misery not to know w^hom to trust, but a 
much greater to behave one's self so as not to be trusted. But 
this is the liar's lot ; he is accounted a pest and a nuisance, a 
person marked out for infamy and scorn, and abandoned by all 
men of sense and worth, and such as will not abandon themselves. 

2. The second reward or punishment that attends the lying 
and deceitful person, is the hatred of all those whom he either 
has or woidd have deceived. I do not say that a Christian can 
lawfully hate any one; and yet I affirm, that some may very 
wortliily deserve to be hated ; and of all men living, Avho may or 
do, the deceiver certainly deserves it most. To which I shall 
add this one remark further ; that though men's persons ought 
not to be hated, yet without all peradventure their practices 
justly may, and particularly that detestable one which we are 
now speaking of. 

For whosoever deceives a man, does not only do all that he 
can»to ruin him, but, which is yet worse, to make him ruin him- 
self ; and by causing an error in the great guide of all his 
actions, his judgment, to cause an error in his choice too; the 
misguidance of which must naturally engage him in those 
courses that directly tend to his destruction. Loss of sight is 
the misery of life, and usually the forerunner of death; when 
the malefactor comes once to be muffled, and the fatal cloth 
drawn over liis eyes, we know that he is not far from his exe- 

And this is so true, that whosoever sees a man who would 
have beguiled and imposed upon him by making him believe a 


He, he may truly say of that person, that is the man who would 
have ruined me, who would have stripped me of the dignity of 
my nature, and put out the eyes of my reason, to make liimself 
sport with my calamity, my folly, and my dishonour. For so 
the Philistmes used Samson; and every man in this sad case 
has enough of Samson to be his own executioner. Accordingly, 
if it ever comes to this, that a man can say of his confidant, he 
would have deceived me, he has said enough to annihilate and 
abolish all pretences of friendship. And it is really an intolera- 
ble impudence, for any one to offer at the name of friend after 
such an attemi^t. For can there be any thing of friendsliip in 
snares, hooks, and trepans? And, therefore, whosoever breaks 
with his friend upon such terms, has enough to warrant him in 
so doing, both before God and man ; and that without incurring 
either the guilt of unfaithfulness before the one, or the blemish 
of inconstancy before the other. For this is not properly to 
break with a friend, but to discover an enemy, and timely to 
shake the viper oif from one's hand. 

What says the most wise author of that excellent book of 
Ecclesiasticus ? Ecclus. xxii. 21, 22; " Though thou drewest a 
sword at thy friend, yet desj)air not ; for there may be a return- 
ing to favour. If thou hast opened thy mouth against thy 
friend, fear not ; for there may be a, reconciliation." That is, 
a hasty word or an indiscreet action does not presently dissolve 
the bond, or root out a well-settled habit, but that friendship 
may be still sound at heart, and so outgrow and wear off these 
little distempers. But what follows ? " Except for upbraiding, 
or disclosing of secrets, or a treacherous wound (mark that) : for 
for these things," says he, " every friend will depart." And 
surely it is high time for him to go, when such a devil drives 
him away. Passion, anger, and unkindness, may give a wound 
that shall bleed and smart, but it is treachery only that makes 
it fester. 

And the reason of the difference is manifest ; for hasty words 
or blows may be only the effects of a sudden passion, during 
which a man is not perfectly himself : but no man goes about to 
deceive, or ensnare, or circumvent another, in a passion ; to lay 
trains, and set traps, and give secret blows, in a present huff. 
No ; this is always done with forecast and design, with a steady 
aiming, and a long projecting mahce, assisted with all the skill 
and art of an expert and well managed hypocrisy ; and, perhaps, 
not without the pharisaical feigned guise of something hke self- 
denial and mortification; which are things in which the whole 
man, and the whole devil too, are employed, and all the powers 
and faculties of the mind are exerted and made use of. 

But for aU these masks and vizards, nothing certainly can be 
thought of or imagined more base, inhuman, or diabolical, than 
for one to abuse the generous confidence and hearty freedom of 


his friend, and to undermine and ruin liim in those very con- 
cerns, which nothing but too great a respect to, and too good an 
opinion of the traitoi-, made the poor man deposit in his hollow 
and fallacious breast. Such a one, perhaps, thinks to find some 
support and shelter in my friendship, and I take that oppor- 
tunity to betray him to his mortal enemies. He comes to me 
for counsel, and I show him a trick : he opens his bosom to me, 
and I stab him to the heart. 

These are the practices of the world we live in; especially 
since the year sixty, the grand epoch of falsehood, as well as 
debauchery. But God, who is the great guarantee for the peace, 
order, and good behaviour of mankind, where laws cannot secure 
it, may, some time or other, think it the concern of his justice 
and providence too, to revenge the affronts put upon them by 
such impudent defiers of both, as neither believe a God, nor 
ought to be behoved by man. 

In the mean time, let such perfidious wretches know that 
though they believe a devil no more than they do a God, yet in 
all this scene of refined treachery, they are really doing the 
devil's jovirney-Avork, who was a liar and a murderer from the 
beginning, and therefore a liar, that he might be a murderer : 
and the truth is, such a one does all towards his brother's ruin 
that the devil himself could do : for the devil can but tempt and 
deceive ; and if he cannot destroy a man that way, his power is 
at an end. 

But I cannot dismiss this head without one further note, as 
very material in the case now before us ; namely that since this 
false, wily, doubUng disposition of mind is so intolerably mis- 
chievous to society, God is sometimes pleased, in mere pity and 
compassion to men, to give them warning of it, by setting some 
odd mark upon such Cains. So that if a man will be but so true 
to himself, as to observe such persons exactly, he shall generally 
spy such false lines, and such a sly, treacherous fleer upon their 
face, that he shall be sure to have a cast of their eye to warn 
him, before they give him a cast of their nature to betray him. 
And in such cases, a man may see more and better by another's 
eye, than he can by his own. 

Let this therefore be the second reward of the lying and de- 
ceitful person, that he is the object of a just hatred and abhor- 
rence. For as the devil is both a liar himself, and the father of 
liars : so, I think, that the same cause that has drawn the hatred 
of God and man upon the father, may justly entail it upon his 
offspring too ; and it is pity that such an entail should ever be cut 
off. But, 

3. And lastly : the last and utmost reward, that shall infalli- 
bly reach the fraudulent and deceitful, as it will all other obsti- 
nate and impenitent sinners, is, a final and eternal separation 
from God, who is truth itself, and with whom no shadow of 

202 DR. south's sermons. I^serm. xir. 

falsehood can dwell. " He that telleth lies," says David, in Ps. 
ci. 7, " shall not tarry in my sight :" and if not in the sight of a 
poor mortal man, who could sometimes lie himself, how much 
less in the jDresence of the infinite and all-knowing God ! A wise 
and good prince or governor will not vouchsafe a liar the coun- 
tenance of his eye, and much less the privilege of his ear. The 
Spii'it of God seems to write this upon the very gates of heaven, 
and to state the condition of men's entrance into glory, chiefly 
upon their veracity. In Ps. xv. 1, " Wlio shall ascend into thy 
holy hill ?" says the psalmist, to which it is answered, in ver. 2, 
**He that worketh righteousness, and that speaketh the truth 
from his heart." 

And, on the other side, how emphatically is hell described in 
the two last chapters of the Revelation, by being the great re- 
ceptacle and mansion-house of liars, whom he shall find there 
ranged wath the vilest and most detestable of all sinners, ap- 
pointed to have their portion in that horrid place ! Rev. xxi. 8, 
" The unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and 
whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all bars, shall 
have their share in the lake which burneth with fire and brim- 
stone :" and in Rev. xxii. 15, " Without are dogs, and sorcerers, 
&c., and whosoever lovetli and maketh a he." 

Now let those consider this, whose tongue and heart hold no 
correspondence ; who look upon it as a piece of art and wisdom, 
and the masterpiece of conversation, to overreach and deceive, 
and make a prey of a credulous and well meaning honesty. 
What do such persons think? Are dogs, whoremongers, and 
sorcerers, such desirable company to take up with for ever ? Will 
the burning lake be found so tolerable ? Or will there be any one 
to drop refreshment upon the false tongue, when it shall be tor- 
mented in those flames ? Or do they think that God is a liar 
like themselves, and that no such thing shall ever come to pass, 
but that all these fiery threatenings shall vanish into smoke, and 
this dreadful sentence blow off without execution ? Few certainly 
can lie to their own hearts so far, as to imagine this : but hell is, 
and must be granted to be the deceiver's portion, not only by 
the judgment of God, but of his own conscience too. And, 
comparing the malignity of his sin with the nature of the 
punishment allotted for him, aU that can be said of a Har lodged 
in the very nethermost hell, is this ; that if the vengeance of 
God could prepare any place or condition worse than hell for 
sinners, hell itself would be too good for him. 

And now to sum up all in short : I have shown what a Ke is, 
and wherein the nature of falsehood does consist : that it is a 
thing absolutely and intrinsically evil ; that it is an act of injus- 
tice, and a violation of our neighbour's right. 

And that the vileness of its nature is equalled by the mahgnity 
of its effects ; it being this that first brought sin into the world. 


and is since the cause of all those miseries and calamities that 
disturb it ; and further, that it tends utterly to dissolve and over- 
throw society, which is the greatest temporal blessing and sup- 
port of mankind : and, which is yet worst of all, that it has a 
strange and particular efficacy, above all other sins, to indispose 
the heart to religion. 

And, lastly, that it is as dreadful in its punishments, as it has 
been pernicious in its effects. Forasmuch as it deprives a man of 
all credit and belief, and consequently of all capacity of being 
useful in any station or condition of life whatsoever ; and next, 
that it draws upon him the just and universal hatred and abhor- 
rence of all men here ; and finally, subjects him to the wrath of 
God, and eternal damnation hereafter. 

And now, if none of all these considerations can recommend 
and endear truth to the words and practices of men, and work 
upon their double hearts, so far as to convince and make them 
sensible of the baseness of the sin, and greatness of the guilt, 
that fraud and falsehood leaves upon the soul ; let them lie and 
cheat on, till they receive a fuller and more effectual conviction 
of all these things, in that place of torment and confusion pre- 
pared for the devil and his angels, and all his lying retinue, by the 
decree and sentence of that God, who in his threatenings as well 
as in his promises, will be true to his word, and cannot lie. 

To whom be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, 
might, majesty, and dominion, both now and for evermore. 





Reverend and Learned Sirs, 

These discourses, most of tliera at least, having by the favour of your 
patience had the honour of your audience, and being now pubHslied in 
another and more lasting way, do here humbly cast themselves at your 
feet, imploring the yet greater favour and honour of your patronage, or 
at least the benevolence of your pardon. 

Amongst which, the chief design of some of them is to assert the 
rites and constitutions of our excellently reformed church, which of late 
we so often hear reproached, in the modish dialect of the present times, 
by the name of little things ; and that in order to their being laid aside, 
not only as little, but superfluous. Bat for my own part, I can account 
nothing little in any church, which has the stamp of undoubted authority, 
and the practice of primitive antiquity, as well as the reason and decency 
of the thing itself, to warrant and support it ; though, if the supposed 
littleness of these matters should be a sufl&cient reason for the laying 
them, aside I fear, our church will be found to have more little men to 
spare than little things. 

But I have observed all along, that while this innovating spirit has 
been striking at the constitutions of our church, the same has been giv- 
ing several bold and scurvy strokes at some of her articles too : an evi- 
dent demonstration to me, that whensoever her discipline shall be de- 
stroyed, her doctrine will not long survive it : and I doubt not but it is 
for the sake of this, that the former is so much maligned and shot at. 
Pelagianism and Socinianism, with several other heterodoxies cognate to 
and dependent upon them, which of late, with so much confidence and 
scandalous countenance, walk about daring the world, are certainly no 

* This Dedication refers to the twelve sermons next following. 


doctrines of the church of England : and none are abler and fitter to make 
them appear what they are, and Avhither they tend, than our exellent and so 
■well-stocked universities ; and if these will but bestir themselves against 
all innovators whatsoever, it will quickly be seen, that our church needs 
none either to fill her places, or to defend her doctrines, but the sons 
whom she herself has brought forth and bred up. Her charity is indeed 
great to others, and the greater, for that she is so well provided of all 
that can contribute either to her strength or ornament without them. 
The altar receives and protects such as fly to it, but needs them not. 

We are not so dull, but we perceive who are the prime designers, as 
well as the professed actors against our church, and from what quarter 
the blow chiefly threatens us. We know the spring, as well as wo ob- 
serve the motion, and scent the foot which pursues, as well as see the 
hand Avhich is lifted up against us. The pope is an experienced work- 
man ; he knows his tools, and he knows them to be but tools, and he 
knows withal hoAv to use them; and that so, that they shall neither 
.know who it is that uses them, or Avhat he uses them for ; and we can- 
not in reason presume his skill now in ninety-three, to be at all less than 
it was in forty-one. But God, who has even to a miracle protected the 
church of England hitherto, against all the power and spite both of her 
open and concealed enemies, will, we hope, continue to protect so pure 
and rational, so innocent and self-denying a constitution still. And 
nest, under God, we must rely upou the old church of England clergy, 
together with the two universities, both to support and recover her de- 
clining state. For so long as the universities are sound and orthodox, 
the church has both her eyes open ; and while she has so, it is to be hoped 
that she will look about her ; and consider again and again what she is 
to change from, and what she must change to, and where she shall make 
an end of changing, before she quits her present constitution. 

Innovations about religion are certainly the most efiicacious, as well as 
the most plausible way of compassing a total abolition of it. One of 
the best and strongest arguments we have against popery, is, that it is an 
innovation upon the Christian church ; and if so, I cannot see why that 
which we explode in the popish church, should pass for such a piece of 
perfection in a reformed one. The papists, I am sure, (our shrewdest 
and most designing enemies) desire and push on this to their utmost ; 
and for that very reason, one would think, that we, if we are not besot- 
ted, should oppose it to our utmost too. However, let us but have our 
liturgy continued to us, as it is, till the persons are born, who shall be 
able to mend it, or make a better, and we desire no greater security 
against either the altering this, or introducing another. 

The truth is, such as would new model the church of England, ought 
not only to have a new religion, Avhich some have been so long driving 


at, but a new reason likeAvise, to proceed by : since experience, which 
was ever yet accounted one of the surest and best improvements of 
reason, has been always for acquiescing in things settled with sober and 
mature advice (and, in the present case also, with the very blood and 
martyrdom of the advisers themselves), without running the risk of new 
experiments ; which, though in philosophy they may be commendable, 
yet in religion and religious matters are generally fatal and pernicious. 
The church is a royal society for settling old things, and not for finding 
out new. In a word, we serve a wise and unchangeable God, and we 
deserve to do it by a religion and in a church (as like him as may be) 
without changes or alterations. 

And now, as in so important a matter I would interest both univer- 
sities, so I do it with the same honour and deference to both ; as abhor- 
ring from my heart the pedantic partiality of preferring one before the 
other : since (if my relation to one should never so much incline me so 
to do) I must sincerely declare, that I cannot see how to place a prefer- 
ence, where I can find no preeminence. And therefore, as they are 
both equal in fame, and learning, and all that is great and excellent, so 
I hope to see them always one in judgment and design, heart and affec- 
tion ; and without any strife, emulation, or contest between them, except 
this one (which I wish may be perpetual), viz. WhicTi of the two best 
universities in the world, shall be most serviceable to the best church in 
the world by their learning, constancy, and integrity. 

But to conclude ; there remains no more for me to do, but to beg 
pardon of that august body, to which I belong, if I have offended in 
assuming to myself the honour of mentioning my relation to a society, 
which I could never reflect the least honour upon, nor contribute the 
least advantage to. 

All that I can add, is, that as it was my fortune to serve this noble 
seat of learning for many years, as her public, though unworthy orator ; 
so upon that and other innumerable accounts, I ought for ever to be, and 
to acknowledge myself, 

Her most faithful, obedient, and devoted servant, 

Robert South. 
Westminster Abbey, Nov. 17, 1693. 




[Preached at Westminster Abbey, 1667.] 

Prov. X. 9. 
He that walketh uprightly walketh surely. 

As it were easy to evince, both from reason and experience, that 
there is a strange, restless activity in the soul of man, continually 
disposing it to operate, and exert its faculties ; so the phrase of 
scripture still expresses the life of man by walking ; that is, it 
represents an active principle in an active posture. And because 
the nature of man carries liim thus out to action, it is no wonder 
if the same nature equally renders him solicitous about the issue 
and event of his actions : for every one, by reflecting upon the 
Avay and method of his own workings, will find that he is still 
determined in them by a respect to the consequence of what he 
does ; always proceeding upon this argumentation : If I do such 
a thing, such an advantage will follow from it, and therefore 
I will do it. And if I do this, such a mischief will ensue 
thereupon, and therefore I will forbear. Every one, I say, is 
concluded by this practical discourse ; and for a man to bring his 
actions to the event proposed and designed by him, is to walk 
surely. But since the event of an action usually follows the 
nature or quality of it, and the quality follows the rule directing 
it, it concerns a man, by all means, in the framing of his actions, 
not to be deceived in the rule which he proposes for the measure 
of them ; which, without great and exact caution, he may be 
these two ways : 

1. By laying false and deceitful principles. 2. In case he lays 
right principles, yet by mistaking in the consequences which he 
draws from them. 

An error in either of which is equally dangerous ; for if a man 
is to draw a line, it is all one whether he does it by a crooked 
rule, or by a straight one misapphed. He who fixes upon false 
principles treads upon infirm ground, and so sinks ; and he who 
fails in his deductions from right principles stumbles upon firm 
ground, and so falls ; the disaster is not of the same kind, but of 
the same mischief in both. 

It must be confessed, that it is sometimes very hard to judge 
of the truth or goodness of principles, considered barely in them- 
selves, and abstracted from their consequences. But certainly he 


acts upon the surest and most prudential grounds in the world, 
who, whether the principles which he acts upon prove true or 
false, yet secures a happy issue to liis actions. 

Now he who guides liis actions by the rules of piety and reli- 
gion, lays these two principles as the great ground of all that he 

I. That there is an infinite, eternal, all-wise mind governing 
the affairs of the world, and taking such an account of the 
actions of men, as, according to the quality of them, to punish 
or reward them. 

II. That there is an estate of happiness or misery after this 
life, allotted to every man, according to the quality of his actions 
here. These, I say, are the principles which every religious man 
proposes to himself; and the deductions which he makes from 
them is this : that it is his grand interest and concern so to act 
and behave huuself in this world, as to secure himself from an 
estate of misery in the other. And thus to act, is, in the phrase 
of scripture, to walk uprightly ; and it is my business to prove, that 
he who acts in the strength of this conclusion, drawn from the 
two forementioned principles, walks surely, or secures a happy 
event to his actions, against all contingencies whatsoever. 

And to demonstrate this, I shall consider the said principles 
under a threefold supposition : 

1. As certainly true ; 2. As probable ; and, 3. As false. 

And if the pious man brings his actions to a happy end, 
whichsoever of these suppositions his principles fall under, then 
certainly there is none Avho walks so surely, and upon such irre- 
fragable grounds of prudence, as he who is religious. 

I. First of all therefore we will take these principles (as we 
may very well do) under the hypothesis of certainly true : where, 
though the method of the ratiocination which I have cast the 
present discourse into, does not naturally engage me to prove 
them so, but only to show what directly and necessarily follows 
upon a supposal that they are so ; yet to give the greater perspi- 
cuity and clearness to the prosecution of the subject in hand, I 
shall briefly demonstrate them thus. 

It is necessary that there shoidd be some first mover ; and if so, 
a first being ; and the first being must infer an infinite, unlimited 
perfection in the said being : forasmuch as if it were finite or 
lunited, that Hmitation must have been either from itself or from 
something else. But not from itself, since it is contrary to 
reason and nature, that any being should limit its own perfection; 
nor yet from something else, since then it should not have been 
the first, as supposing some other thing coevous to it ; which is 
against the present supposition. So that it being clear that there 
must be a first being, and that infinitely perfect, it will follow, 
that all other perfection that is, must be derived from it ; and so 


we infer the creation of the world. And tlien sujiposlng the 
world created by God, since it is noways reconcileable to God's 
wisdom, that he should not also govern it, creation must needs 
infer providence : and then, it being granted that God governs 
the world, it will follow also, that he does it by means suitable to 
the.natiu'es of the things he governs, and to the attainment of 
the proper ends of government. And moreover, man being l)y 
nature a free moral agent, and so, capable of deviating from this 
duty, as well as perfonning it, it is necessary that he should be 
governed by laws : and since laws require that they be enforced 
with the sanction of rewards and punishments, sufficient to SAvay 
and work ujion the minds of such as are to be governed by them : 
and lastly, since experience shows that rewards and punishments 
terminated only within this life, are not sufficient for that pur- 
pose, it fiilrly and rationally follows, that the rewards and punish- 
ments Avhich God governs mankind by, do and must look be- 
yond it. 

And thus I have given a brief proof of the certainty of these 
principles ; namely, that there is. a supreme Governor of the 
world ; and that there is a future estate of happiness or misery 
for men after this life : which principles, while a man steers his 
course by, if he acts piously, soberly, and temperately, I suppose 
there needs no further arguments to evince, that he acts pru- 
dentlally and safely ; for he acts as under the eye of his just and 
severe Judge, who reaches to his creature a command with one 
hand, and a reward with the other. He spends as a person who 
knows that he must come to a reckoning. He sees an eternal 
happiness or misery suspended vipon a few days' behaviour ; and 
therefore he lives every hour as for eternity. His future conditiyn 
has such a powerful influence upon his present practice, because 
he entertains a continual apprehension and a firm persuasion of 
it. If a man walks over a narrow bridge when he is drunk, it is 
no wonder that he forgets his caution, while he overlooks his 
danger. But he who is sober, and views that nice separation 
between himself and the devouring deep, so that if he should 
slip, he sees his gi'ave gaping under him, surely must needs take 
every step with horror, and the utmost caution and solicitude. 

But for a man to believe it as the most undoubted certainty In 
the world, that he shall be judged according to the quality of 
his actions here, and after judgment receive an eternal recom- 
pence, and yet to take his full swing in all the pleasures of sin, is 
it not a greater frenzy, than for a man to take a purse at Tyburn, 
while he Is actually seeing another hanged for the same act ? It 
is really to dare and defy the justice of heaven, to laugh at right- 
aiming thunderbolts, to puff" at damnation ; and, in a word, to 
bid omnipotence do its worst. He indeed who thus walks, walks 
surely ; but it is because he Is sure to be damned, 

I confess it is hard to reconcile such a stupid course tothe 

VOL. I. p 


natural way of the soul's acting; according to which, the will 
moves according to the proposals of good and evil, made by the 
understandino;. And therefore, for a man to run headlons; into 
the bottomless pit, while the eye of a seeing conscience assures 
him that it is bottomless and open, and all return from it despe- 
rate and impossible ; while his ruin stares him in the face, and 
the sword of vengeance points directly at his heart, still to press 
on to the embraces of his sin, is a problem unresolvable ui^on any 
other ground, but that sin infatuates before it destroys. For 
Judas to receive and swallow the sop, when liis master gave it 
him seasoned with those terrible words, " It had l)een good for 
that man that he had ne^er been born :" surely this argued a 
furious appetite and a strong stomach ; that could thus catch at 
a morsel, with the fire and brimstone all flaming about it, and, as 
it were, digest death itself, and make a meal upon perdition. 

I could wish that every bold sinner, when he is about to 
engage in the commission of any known sin, would arrest his 
confidence, and for a while stop the execution of his purpose, 
with this short question : Do I behev^ that it is really true, that 
God has denounced death to such a practice, or do I not ? If he 
does not, let him renounce his Christianity, and surrender back 
his baptism, the water of Avhich might better serve him to cool 
his tongue in hell, than only to consign him over to the capacity 
of so black an apostasy. But if he does believe it, how will he 
acquit himself upon the accounts of bare reason ? For does he 
tliink, that if he pursues the means of death, they will not bring 
him to that fatal end? Or does he think that he can grapple 
with divine vengeance, and endure the everlasting burnings, or 
arm himself against the bites of the never-dying worm? No, 
surely, these are things not to be imagined ; and therefore I can- 
not conceive what security the presuming sinner can promise 
himself, but uj^on these two following accounts : 

1. That God is merciful, and will not be so severe as his 
word; and that his threatenings of eternal torments are not 
so decretory and absolute, but that there is a very comfortable 
latitude left in them for men of skill to creep out at. And here 
it must indeed be confessed, that Origen, and some others, not 
long since, who have been so officious as to furbish up and re- 
print his old errors, hold, that the sufferings of the damned are 
not to be, in a strict sense, eternal ; but that, after a certain re- 
volution and period of time, there shaU be a general gaol-delivery 
of the souls in prison, and that not for a further execution, but a 
final release. And it must be further acknowledged, that some 
of the ancients, like kind-hearted men, have talked much of 
annual refrigeriums, resjiites, or intervals of punishment to the 
damned, as particularly on the great festivals of the resurrection, 
ascension, pentecost, and the like. In which, as these good men 
are more to be commended for their kindness and compassion, 


than to be followed In their opinion, which may be much better 
argued by wishes than demonstrations ; so admitting that it were 
true, yet what a pitiful, slender comfort would tliis amount to ? 
Much like the Jews abating the punishment of malefactors from 
forty stripes, to forty save one. A great indulgence indeed, 
even as great as the difference between forty and thirty-nine ; 
and yet much less considerable Avould that indulgence be, of a 
few holydays in the measures of eternity, of some hours' ease, 
compared with infinite ages of torment. 

Supposing, therefore, that few sinners relieve themselves with 
such groundless, trifling considerations as these : yet may they 
not however fasten a rational hope upon the boundless mercy of 
God, that this may induce him to spare his poor creature, though 
by sin become obnoxious to his wa-ath ? To this I answer. That 
the divine mercy is indeed large, and far surpassing all created 
measures ; yet nevertheless it has its proper time ; and after this 
life it is the time of justice ; and to hope for the favours of mercy 
then, is to expect a harvest in the dead of Avinter. God has cast 
all Ms works into a certain, inviolable order ; according to which, 
there is a time to pardon and a time to punish ; and the time of 
one is not the time of the other. ^Vlien corn has once felt the 
sickle, it has no more benefit from the sunshine. But, 

2. K the conscience be too apprehensive, as for the most part 
it is, to venture the final issue of things upon a fond jjersua- 
sion, that the great Judge of the world will relent, and not 
execute the sentence pronounced by him ; as if he had threatened 
men with hell, rather to fright them from sin, than with an 
intent to punish them for it ; I say, if the conscience cannot find 
any satisfaction or support from such reasonings as these, yet may 
it not at least relieve itself with the purposes of a future repen- 
tance, notwithstanding its present actual violations of the law ? 
I ansAver, that tliis certainly is a confidence, of all others the 
most ungrounded and irrational. For upon Avhat ground can a 
man promise himself a future repentance, who cannot promise 
himself a futurity ; whose life depends upon his breath, and is so 
restrained to the present, that it cannot secure to itself the rever- 
sion of the very next minute ? Have not many died with the 
guilt of impenitence, and the designs of repentance together ? K 
a man dies to-day, by the prevalence of some ill humours, will it 
avail him that he intended to have bled and purged to-morrow ? 
But how dares sinful dust and ashes invade the prerogative of 
Providence, and carve out to himself the seasons and issues of 
life and death, which the Father keeps wholly Avithin his oAvn 
poAver ? HoAV does that man, who thinks he sins securely under 
the shelter of some remote purposes of amendment, knoAV, but 
that the decree above may be already passed against him, and liis 
alloAvance of mercy spent ; so that the bow in the clouds is noAv 
draAvn, and the arroAv levelled at his head ; and not many days 

p 2 

212 DR. SOUTh's sermons, QsERM. XIII. 

like to pass, but perhaps an apoplexy, or an imposthume, or some 
sudden disaster may stop liis breath, and reap liim down as a 
sinner ripe for destruction ? 

I conclude therefore, that, upon supposition of the certain 
truth of the principles of religion, he who walks not uprightly, 
has neither from the presumption of God's mercy reversing the 
decree of his justice, nor from his own purposes of a future re- 
pentance, any sure ground to set his foot upon ; but in this 
whole course acts as directly in contradiction to nature, as he 
does in defiance of grace. In a word, he is besotted, and has lost 
his reason ; and what then can there be for rehgion to take hold 
of hhn by ? Come we now to the 

11. Supposition, under wliich we show, that the principles of 
religion laid down by us might be considered; and that is, as 
only probable. ^Yhere we must observe, that probabihty does not 
properly make any alteration, either in the truth or falsity of 
things ; but only imports a different degree of their clearness or 
appearance to the understanding. So that it is to be accounted 
probable, which has more and better argiunents producible for it, 
than can be brought against it ; and surely such a thing at least 
is rehgion. For certain it is, that rehgion is universal, I mean, 
the first rudiments and general notions of religion, called natural 
religion, and consisting in the acknowledgment of a Deity, and of 
the common principles of morality, and a future estate of souls 
after death (in which also we have all that some reformers and 
refiners amongst us, would reduce Christianity itself to). This 
notion of religion, I say, has diffused itself in some degree or 
other, greater or less, as far as human natui'e extends : so that 
there is no nation in the world, though plunged into never 
such gross and absurd idolatry, but has some awful sense of a 
Deity, and a persuasion of a state of retribution to men after 
tliis life. 

But now, if there are really no such things, but all is a mere 
lie and a fable, contrived only to chain up the liberty of man's 
nature from a freer enjoyment of those things, wliich otherwise 
it would have as full a right to enjoy as to breathe : I demand 
whence this persuasion could thus come to be universal ? For 
was it ever known, in any other instance, that the whole world 
was brought to conspire in the behef of a lie ? Nay, and of such 
a lie, as should lay upon men such unpleasing abridgments, tying 
them up from a full gratification of those lusts and appetites, 
which they so impatiently desire to satisfy, and consequently, by 
all means, to remove those impediments that might any way ob- 
struct their satisfaction ? Since therefore it cannot be made out, 
upon any principle of reason, how all the nations in the world, 
otherwise so distant in situation, manners, interests, and inclina- 
tion, should by design or combination, meet in one persuasion ; 


and withal, that men, who so mortally hate to be deceived and 
imposed upon, should yet suffer themselves to be deceived by 
such a persuasion as is false ; and not only false, but also cross 
and contrary to their strongest desires ; so that if it were false, 
they would set the utmost force of their reason on work to dis- 
cover that falsity, and thereby disenthral themselves: and further, 
since there is nothing false, but Avhat may be proved to be so : 
and yet, lastly, since all the power and industry of man's mind 
has not been hitherto able to prove a falsity in the principles of 
religion, it irrefragably follows, — and that, I suppose, without 
gathering any more into the conclusion, than has been made good 
in the premises, — that religion is, at least, a very high probability. 
And this is that which I here contend for, that it is not 
necessarv to the obligino; men to believe religion to be true, that 
this truth be made out to their reason, by arguments demonstra- 
tively certain; but that it is sufficient to render their unbelief 
unexcusable, even upon the account of bare reason, if so be the 
, truth of religion carry in it a much greater probability, than any 
of those ratiocinations that pretend the contrary ; and this I 
prove in the strength of these two considerations. 

1. That no man, in matters of this life, requires an assur- 
ance either of the good which he designs, or of the evil which he 
avoids, from arguments demonstratively certain ; but judges him- 
self to have sufficient ground to act upon, from a probable per- 
suasion of the event of things. No man, who first traffics into a 
foreign country, has any scientific evidence that there is such a 
country, but by report, which can produce no more than a moral 
certainty ; that is, a very high probability, and such as there can 
be no reason to except against. He who has a probable belief, 
that he shall meet with thieves in such a road, thinks himself to 
have reason enough to decline it, albeit he is sure to sustain some 
less (though yet considerable) inconvenience by his so doing. 
But perhaps it may be replied, and it is all that can be replied, 
that a greater assurance and evidence is required of the things 
and concerns of the other world, than of the interests of this. 
To which I answer, that assurance and evidence (terms, by the 
way, extremely different; the first respecting properly the ground 
of our assenting to a thing ; and the other, the clearness of tlse 
thing or object assented to) have no place at all here, as being 
contrary to our present supposition ; according to which, we are 
now treating of the practical principles of religion only as proba- 
ble, and falling under a probable persuasion. And for this I 
affirm, that where the case is about the hazarding an eternal or a 
temporal concern, there a less degree of probability ought to en- 
gage our caution against the loss of the former, than is necessary 
to engage it about preventing the loss of the latter. Forasmuch 
as where things are least to be put to the venture, as the eternal 
interests of the other world ouoht to be ; there everv, even the 


least probability, or likelihood of danger, should be provided 
against ; but where the loss can be but temporal, every small 
probability of it need not put us so anxiously to prevent it, since 
though it should happen, the loss might be repaired again ; or, if 
not, could not however destroy us, by reacliing us in our greatest 
and highest concern ; which no tempoi^al thing whatsoever is or 
can be. And this directly introduces the 

2. Consideration or argument, viz. That bare reason, dis- 
coursing upon a principle of self-preservation, Avhich surely is the 
fundamental principle which nature proceeds by, will oblige a 
man voluntarily and by choice to undergo any less evil, to secure 
himself but from the probability of an evil incomparably greater; 
and that also such a one, as, if that probability passes into a cer- 
tain event, admits of no reparation by any after remedy that can 
be applied to it. 

Now, that religion, teaching a future estate of souls, is a proba 
bility, and that its contraiy cannot with equal probability be 
proved, we have already evinced. This therefore being supposed, 
we will sujjpose yet further, that for a man to abridge himself in 
the full satisfaction of his appetites and inclinations, is an e^dl, 
because a present pain and trouble. But then it must be like- 
wise granted, that natui*e must needs abhor a state of eternal pain 
and misery much more ; and that if a man does not undergo the 
former less evil, it is highly probable that such an eternal estate of 
misery will be his portion. And if so, I would fain know whether 
that man takes a rational course to preserve himself, who refuses 
the endurance of these lesser troubles, to secure hhiiself from a 
condition infinitely and inconceivably more miserable. 

But since probability, in the nature of it, supposes that a thing 
may or may not be so, for any thing that yet appears or is cer- 
tainly determined on either side ; we will here consider both sides 
of this probability. As, 

(1.) That it is one way possible, tlmt there may be no such 
thing as a future estate of happiness or misery for those who 
have lived well or ill here ; and then he who, upon the strength 
of a contrary belief, abridged himself in the gratification of his 
appetites, sustains only this evil ; viz. that he did not please his 
senses and unbounded desires, so mtlch as otherwise he might 
and would have done, had he not lived under the captivity and 
check of such a belief. This is the utmost wliich he suffers ; 
but whether this be a real evil or no (whatsoever vulgar minds 
may commonly think it) shall be discoursed of afterwards. 

(2.) But then again, on the other side, it is probable that there 
will be such a future estate ; and then, how miserable is the vo- 
luptuous, sensual unbeliever left in the lurch ! For there can be 
no retreat for him then, no mending of his choice in the other 
world, no after game to be played in hell. It fares with men in 
reference to their future estate, and the condition upon which 


they must pass to it, much as it docs with a merchant having a 
vessel richly fraught at sea in a storm : the storm grows higher 
and higher, and threatens the utter loss of the ship ; but there is 
one, and but one certain way to save it, which is, by throwing its 
rich lading over-board ; yet still, for all this, the man knows not 
but possibly the storm may cease, and so all be preserved. 
However in the mean time, there is little or no probability that 
it will do so ; and in case it should not, he is then assured, that 
he must lay his life, as well as his rich commodities, in the cruel 
deep. Now in this case, would this man, think we, act rationally, 
should he, upon the slender possibility of escaping otherwise, 
neglect the sure, infallible preservation of liis life, by casting 
away his rich goods ? No certainly, it would be so far" from it, 
that should the storm, by a strange hap, cease immediately after 
he has thus thrown away his riches ; j^et the throwing them aAvay 
was infinitely more rational and eligible, than the retaining or 
keeping them could have been. 

For a man, while he lives here in the world, to doubt Avhether 
' there be any hell or no ; and thereupon to live so, as if absolute- 
ly there were none ; but when he dies, to find himself confuted 
in the flames ; this surely must be the height of woe and dis- 
appointment, and a bitter conviction of an irrational venture and 
an absurd choice. In doubtful cases, reason still determines for 
the safer side ; especially if the case be not only doubtful, but 
also highly concerning, and the venture be of a soul and an 

He who sat at a table, richly and deliciously furnished, but 
Avith a sword hanging over his head by one single thread or hair, 
surely had enough to check his appetite, even against all the rag- 
ing of hunger, and temptations of sensuality. The only argu- 
ment that could any way encourage his appetite, was, that pos- 
sibly the sword might not fall ; but when his reason should 
encounter it with another question, ~\'\niat if it should fall ? And 
moreover, that pitiful stay by wliich it hung, should oppose the 
likelihood that it would, to a mere possibility that it might not ; 
what could the man enjoy or taste of his rich banquet, with all 
this doubt and horror working in his mind ? 

Though a man's condition should be really in itself never so 
safe, yet an apprehension and surmise that it is not safe, is enough 
to make a quick and a tender reason sufficiently miserable.. Let 
the most acute and learned unbeliever demonstrate that there is 
no hell ; and if he can, he sins so much the more rationally : 
otherwise if he cannot, the case remains doubtful at least. But 
he who sins obstinately, does not act as if it were so much as 
doubtful ; for if it wei-e certain and evident to sense, he could 
do no more ; but for a man to found a confident practice upon a 
disputable principle, is brutishly to outrun his reason, and to 
build ten times wider than his foundation. In a ^vord, I look 


upon this one short consideration, were there no more, as a suffi- 
cient ground for any rational man to take up his rehgion upon, 
and which I defy the sul)tlest atheist in the world solidly to an- 
swer or confute ; namely, that it is good to be sure. And so I 
proceed to the 

III. And last supposition : under which the principles of reli- 
gion may, for argument sake, be considered; and that is, as 
false ; which surely must reach the utmost thoughts of any atheist 
whatsoever. Nevertheless even upon this account also, I doubt 
not but to evince, that he who walks uprightly, walks much more 
surely, than the wicked and profane liver ; and that with reference 
to the most valued temporal enjoyments, such as are reputation, 
. quietness, health, and the like, which are the greatest which this 
life affords, or is desirable for. And, 

1. For reputation or credit. Is any one had in greater esteem 
than the just person ; who has given the world an assurance, by 
the constant tenor of his pi-actice, that he makes a conscience of 
his w^ays ? that he scorns to do an unworthy or a base thing ; to 
lie, to defraud, or undermine another's interest, by any sinister 
and inferior arts ? and is there any thing which reflects a greater 
lustre upon a man's person, than a severe temperance, and a re- 
straint of himself from vicious and unlawful pleasures ? Does 
any thing shine so bright as virtue, and that even in the eyes of 
those wdio are void of it ? for hardly shall you find any one so 
bad, but he desires the credit of being thought Avhat his vice will 
not let him be : so great a pleasure and convenience is it, to live 
with honour and a fair acceptance amongst those whom we con- 
verse with: and a being without it is not life, but rather the 
skeleton or caput mortuum of life ; like time without day, or day 
itself without the shining of the sun to enliven it. 

On the other side, is there any thing that more embitters all 
the enjoyments of this life than shame and reproach ? yet this is 
generally the lot and portion of the impious and irreligious ; and 
of some of them more especially. 

For how infamous, in the first place, is the false, fraudulent, 
and unconscionable person ! and how quickly is his character 
known ! for hardly ever did any man of no conscience continue a 
man of any credit long. LikcAvise, how odious, as Avell as infa- 
mous, is such a one ! especially if he be arrived at that consum- 
mate and robust degree of falsehood, as to j^lay in and out, and 
show tricks with oaths, the sacredest bonds which the conscience 
of man can be bound with ; how is such a one shunned and 
dreaded like a walking pest ! what volleys of scoffs, curses, and 
satires are discharged at him I so that let never so much honour 
be placed upon him, it cleaves not to him, but forthwith ceases to 
be honour, by being so placed ; no preferment can sweeten him, 
l>ut tlie higher he stands, the fiu'thcr and wider he stinks. 


In like manner, for the drinker, and debauched person : is any 
tiling more the object of scorn and contempt than such a one ? 
his company is justly looked upon as a disgrace : and nobody can 
own a friendship for him without being an enemy to himself. A 
drunkard, is, as it were, outlawed from all worthy and creditable 
converse. Men abhor, loathe, and despise, and would even spit 
at him as they meet him, were it not for fear that a stomach so 
charged should something more than spit at them. 

But now to go over all the sevei'al kinds of vice and wicked- 
ness, should we set aside the considerations of the glories of a 
better world, and allow this life for the only place and scene of 
man's happiness ; yet surely Cato will be always more honourable 
than Clodius, and Cicero than Catiline. Fidelity, justice, and 
temperance will always draw their OAvn reward after them, or ra- 
ther carry it with them, in those marks of honour which they fix 
upon the persons who practise and pursue them. It is said of 
David, in 1 Chron, xxix. 28, " That he died full of days, riches, 
and honour:" and there was no need of a heaven, to render him 
in all respects a much happier man than Saul. But in the 

2. Place, the virtuous and religious person walks upon surer 
grounds than the vicious and irreligious, in respect of the ease, 
peace, and quietness which he enjoys in this world ; and which 
certainly make no small part of human felicity. For anxiety 
and labour are great ingredients of that curse which sin has en- 
tailed upon fiiUen man. Care and toil came into the world with 
sin, and remain ever since inseparable from it, both as to its 
punishment and effect. The service of sin is perfect slavery ; and 
he who will pay obedience to the commands of it, shall find it an 
unreasonable taskmaster, and an unmeasurable exactor. 

And to represent the case in some particulars. The ambitious 
person must rise early and sit up late, and pursue his design with 
a constant, indefatigable attendance ; he must be infinitely patient 
and servile, and obnoxious to all the cross humours of those whom 
he expects to rise by ; he must endure and digest all sorts of af- 
fronts: adore the foot that kicks him, and kiss the hand that 
strikes him ; while, in the mean time, the humble and contented 
man is virtuous at a much easier rate : his virtue bids him sleep, 
and take his rest, while the other's restless sin bids him sit up and 
watch. He pleases himself innocently and easily, while the am- 
bitious man attempts to please others sinfully and difificultly, and 
perhaps, in the issue, unsuccessfully too. 

The robber, and man of rapine, must run, and ride, and use all 
the dangerous and even desperate ways of escape ; and probably, 
after all, his sin betrays him to a gaol, and from thence advances 
him to the giljbet. But let him carry off his booty ^\\i\\ as nmch 
safety and success as he can wish, yet the innocent person, with 
never so little of his own, envies him not, and, if he lias nothing, 
fears him not. 


Likewise the cheat aud fraudulent person is put to a thousand 
shifts to palliate his fraud, and to be thought an honest man : but 
surely there can be no greater labour than to be always dissem- 
bling, and forced to maintain a constant disguise, there being so 
many ways by which a smothered truth is apt to blaze and break 
out ; the very nature of things making it not more natural for 
them to be, than to appear as they be. But he who will be really 
honest, just, and sincere in his dealings, needs take no pains to be 
thought so ; no more than the sun need take any pains to sliine, 
or when he is up, to convince the world that it is day. 

And here again, to bring in the man of luxury and intem- 
perance for his share in the pain and trouble, as well as in the 
forementioned shame and infamy of his vice : can any toil or 
day-labour equal the fatigue or drudgery which such a one under- 
goes, while he is continually pouring in draught after draught, and 
cramming in morsel after morsel, and that in sj^ite of appetite 
and nature, till he becomes a burden to the very earth that bears 
him ; though not so great a one to that, but that, if possible, he 
is yet a greater to himself? * 

And now, in the last place, to mention one sinner more, and 
him a notable, leading sinner indeed, to wit, the rebel. Can any 
thing have more of trouble, hazard, and anxiety in it, than the 
course which he takes ? For in the first place, all the evils of war 
must unavoidably be endured, as the necessary means and instru- 
ments to compass and give success to his traitorous designs. In 
which, if it is his lot to be conquered, he must expect that 
vengeance that justly attends a conquered, disarmed villain ; for 
when such a one is vanquished, his sins are always upon him. 
But if, on the contrary, he proves victorious, he will yet find 
misery enough in the distracting cares of settling an ungrounded, 
odious, detestable interest, so heartily, and so justly maligned, 
abhorred, and sometimes plotted against ; so that, in effect, he is 
still in war, though he has quitted the field. The torment of his 
suspicion is great, and the courses he must take to quiet his 
jealous, susjDicious mind, infinitely troublesome and vexatious. 

But, in the mean time, the labour of obedience, loyalty, and 
subjection, is no more, but for a man honestly and discreetly to 
sit still, and to enjoy what he has, vmder the protection of the 
laws. And when such a one is in his lowest condition, he is yet 
high and happy enough to despise and pity the most prosperous 
rebel in the Avorld ; even those famous ones of forty-one (with 
all due respect to their flourishing relations be it spoken) not 
excepted. In the 

Third and last place, the religious person walks upon surer 
groimds than the irreligious, in respect of the very health of his 
hody. Virtue is a friend and a help to nature, but it is \dce and 

* See pages 10, 11, of this volume. 


liixiiiy that destroy it, and the diseases of intemperance are the 
natui'al product of the sins of intemperance. Whereas, on the 
other side, a temperate, innocent use of the creature, never casts 
any one into a fever or a surfeit. Chastity makes no work for a 
chirurgeon, nor ever ends in rottenness of bones. Sin is the 
fioiitful parent of distempers, and ill lives occasion good physi- 
cians. Seldom shall one see in cities, courts, and rich families, 
where men live plentifully, and eat and drink freely, that perfect 
health, that athletic soundness and vigour of constitution, wliich 
is commonly seen in the country in poor houses and cottages, 
where nature is their cook, and necessity their caterer, and where 
they have no other doctor but the sun and the fresh air, and that 
such a one as never sends them to the apothecary. It has been 
observed in the earlier ages of the church, that none lived such 
healtliful and long lives as monks and hermits, who had seques- 
tered themselves from the pleasures and plenties of the world to 
a constant ascetic course of the severest abstinence and devotion. 

Nor is excess the only thing by wliich sin mauls and breaks 
men in their health, and the comfoi'table enjoyment of themselves 
thereby, but many are also brought to a very ill and languishing 
habit of body by mere idleness; and idleness is both itself a 
great sin, and the cause of many more. The husbanchiian returns 
from the field, and from manuring his ground strong and healthy, 
because innocent and laborious ; yoai will find no diet-drinks, no 
boxes of pills, nor gallipots, amongst his pro\'isions ; no, he 
neither speaks nor lives French, he is not so much a gentleman, 
forsooth. His meals are coarse and short, his employment 
warrantable, his sleep certain and refreshing, neither interrupted 
with the lashes of a guilty mind, nor the aches of a crazy body. 
And when old age comes upon him, it comes alone, bringing no 
other evil with it but itself; but when it comes to wait upon a 
great and worshipful sinner, who for many years together has 
had the reputation of eating well and doing ill, it comes (as it 
ought to do to a person of such quaUty) attended with a long 
train and retinue of rheums, coughs, catarrhs, and dropsies, 
together with many painful girds and achings, which are at least 
called the gout. How does such a one go about, or is carried 
rather, with his body bending inward, his head shaking, and his 
eyes always watering (instead of weeping) for the sins of his ill- 
spent youth ! In a word, old age seizes upon such a person, like 
fire upon a rotten house; it was rotten before, and must have 
fallen of itself; so that it is no more but one ruin preventing 

And thus I have shown the fruits and effects of sin upon men 
in this world. But peradventure it wiU be replied, that there 
are many sinners who escape all these calamities, and neither 
labour under any shame or disrepute, any unquietness of condi- 
tion, or more than ordinary distemper of body, but pass their 


clays with as great a portion of honour, ease, and health, as any 
other man whatsoever. But to this I answer. 

First, That those sinners who are in such a temporally happy 
condition, owe it not to their sins, but wholly to their luck, and 
a benign chance, that they are so. Providence often disposes of 
things by a method beside and above the discoveries of man's 

Secondly, That the number of those sinners, who by their 
sins have been directly plunged into all the forementioned evils, 
is incomparably greater than the number of those who, by the 
singular favour of Providence, have escaped them. And, 

Thirdly, and lastly, That notwithstanding all this, sin has yet 
in itself a natural tendency to bring men under all these evils ; 
and, if persisted in, Avill infallibly end in them, unless hindered 
by some unusual accident or other, wliich no man, acting 
rationally, can steadily build upon. It is not impossible, but a 
man may practise a sin secretly, to his dying day ; but it is ten 
thousand to one, if the practice be constant, but that some time 
or other it will be discovered ; and then the effect of sin dis- 
covered, must be shame and confusion to the sinner. It is possi- 
ble also, that a man may be an old healthful epicure ; but I 
affirm also, that it is next to a miracle if he be so ; and the like 
is to be said of the several instances of sin hitherto produced by 
us. In short, nothing can step between them and misery in this 
world, but a very great, strange, and unusual chance, which none 
will presume of, who wallc surely. 

And so, I suppose, that religion cannot possibly be enforced, 
even in the judgment of its best friends, and most professed 
enemies, by any further arguments, than what have been pro- 
duced; how much better soever the said arguments may be 
managed by abler hands. For I have shown and proved, that 
whether the principles of it be certain, or but probable, nay, 
though supposed absolutely false ; yet a man is sure of that 
happiness in the practice, which he cannot be in the neglect of 
it ; and consequently, that though he were really a speculative 
atheist, which there is great reason to believe that none perfectly 
are, yet if he would but proceed rationally, that is, if according 
to his own measures of reason he would but love himself, he 
could not however be a practical atheist ; nor live without God 
in tins world, whether or no he expected to be rewarded by liim 
in another. 

And now, to make some application of the foregoing discourse, 
we may, by an easy but sure deduction, conclude and gather 
from it these two things : 

First, That that profane, atheistical, epicurean rabble, whom 
the whole nation so rings of, and who have lived so much to the 
defiance of God, the dishonour of mankind, and the disgrace of 
the age which they are cast upon, arc not indeed (what they are 


pleased to think and vote themselves) the wisest men in the 
world ; for in matters of choice, no man can be Avise in any course 
or practice in which he is not safe too. But can these high assumers, 
and pretenders to reason, prove themselves so, amidst all those 
liberties and latitudes of practice which they take ? Can they 
make it out against the common sense and opinion of all mankind 
that there is no such thing as a future estate of misery for such 
as have lived ill here ? Or, can they persuade themselves, that 
their own particidar reason, denying or doubting of it, ought to 
be relied vipon, as a surer argument of truth, than the universal, 
united reason of all the world besides, affirming it ? Every fool 
may belie-\e, and pronounce confidently ; but wise men will, in 
matters of discourse, conclude firmly, and, in matters of practice, 
act surely. And if these will do so too in the case now before 
us, they must prove it not only probable (which yet they can 
never do) but also certain, and past all doubt, that there is no 
hell, nor place of torment for the wicked ; or at least, that they 
themselves, notwithstanding all their villanous and licentious 
practices, are not to be reckoned of that number and character ; 
but that with a non obstante to all their revels, their profanc- 
ness, and scandalous debaucheries of all sorts, they continue 
virtuosos stiU ; and are that in truth, which the world in favour 
and fashion, or rather by an antiphrasis is pleased to call 

In the mean time, it cannot but be matter of just indignation 
to all knowing and good men, to see a company of lewd, shallow- 
brained huffs, making atheism and contempt of religion the sole 
badge and character of wit, gallantly, and true discretion ; and 
then, over their pots and pipes, claiming and engrossing all these 
wholly to themselves ; magisterially censuring the wisdom of all 
antiquity, scoffing at all piety, and, as it were, new modelling 
the whole world. When yet, such as have had opportunity to 
sound these braggers thoroughly, by having sometimes endured 
the penance of their sottish company, have found them in con- 
verse so empty and insipid, in discom'se so trifling and contempt- 
ible, that it is impossible but that they should give a credit and 
an honour to whatsoever and whomsoever they speak against. 
They are, indeed, such as seem wholly incapable of entertaining 
any design above the present gratification of their palates, and 
whose very soul and thoughts rise no higher than their throats ; 
but yet withal, of such a clamorous and provoking impiety, that 
they are enough to make the nation like Sodom and Gomorrah 
in their punishment, as they have already made it too like them 
in their sins. Certain it is, that blasphemy and irreligion have 
grown to that daring height here of late years, that had men in 
any sober, civilized heathen nation, spoken or done half so much 
in contempt of their false gods and religion, as some in our days 
and nation, wearing the name of Christians, have spoken and done 


against God and Clirist, tliey Avould have been infallibly burnt 
at a stake, as monsters and public enemies of society. 

The truth is, the persons here reflected upon are of such a 
pecidiar stamp of impiety, that they seem to be a set of fellows 
got together, and formed into a kind of diabolical society, for the 
finding out new experiments in vice ; and therefore they laugh 
at the dull, inexperienced, obsolete sinners of former times ; and 
scorning to keep themselves within the common, beaten broad 
way to hell, by being vicious only at the low rate of example 
and imitation, they are for searching out other ways and lati- 
tudes, and obliging posterity Avith unlieai'd-of inventions and dis- 
coveries in sin ; resolving herein to admit of no other measure of 
good and evil, but the judgment of sensuality ; as those who 
prepare matters to their hands, allow no other measure of the 
philosophy and truth of tilings, but the sole judgment of sense. 
And these, forsooth, are our great sages, and those who must 
pass for the only slirewd, tliinking, and inquisitive men of the 
age ; and such as by a long, severe, and profound speculation of 
nature, have redeemed themselves from the pedantry of being 
conscientious and Hving virtuously, and from such old-fasliioned 
principles and creeds, as tie up the minds of some narrow- 
spirited, uncomprehensive zealots, who know not the world, nor 
understand, that he only is the truly wise man, who, per fas et 
nefas, gets as much as he can. 

But for all this, let atheists and sensualists satisfy themselves 
as they are able ; the former of these will find, that as long as 
reason keeps her ground, religion neither can nor will lose hers. 
And for the sensual epicure, he also will find, that there is a 
certain living spark within liim, which all the drink he can pour 
in will never be able to quench or j)ut out ; nor will his rotten 
abused body have it in its power to convey any putrifying, con- 
suming, rotting quaUty to the soul. No, there is no drinking, 
or swearing, or rantmg, or fluxing a soul out of its immortality. 
But that must and will survive and abide, in spite of death and 
the grave ; and live for ever, to convince such wretches, to their 
eternal woe, that the so much repeated ornament and flourish of 
their former speeches {God damn 'em), was commonly the truest 
word they spoke, though least believed by them Avhile they 
spoke it. 

Secondly, The other thing deducible from the foregoing par- 
ticulars, shall be to inform us of the way of attaining to that 
excellent privilege, so justly valued by those who have it, and so 
much talked of by those who have it not ; which is, assurance. 
Assurance is properly that persuasion or confidence, which a 
man takes up of the pardon of liis sins, and liis interest in God's 
favour, upon such grounds and terms as the scripture lays down. 
But now, since the scripture promises eternal hapj)iness and par- 
don of sin, upon the sole condition of faith and sincere obedience. 


it is evident, that he only can plead a title to such a pardon, 
whose conscience impartially tells him, that he has performed 
the required condition. And this is the only rational assurance 
which a man can, with any safety, rely or rest liimself upon. 

He who in this case would believe surely, must first walk 
surely ; and to do so is to Avalk uprightly. And what that is, 
we have sufficiently marked out to us in those plain and legible 
lines of duty, requiring us to demean ourselves to God humbly 
and devoutly ; to our governors obediently ; and to our neigh- 
bours justly; and to ourselves soberly and temperately. All 
other pretences being infinitely vain in themselves, and fatal in 
their consequences. 

It was indeed the way of many in the late times, to bolster 
up their crazy, doating consciences, with I know not what odd 
confidences, founded upon inward whispers of the spirit, stories 
of something which they called conversion, and marks of predes- 
tination : all of them, as they understood them, mere delusions, 
trifles, and fig-leaves ; and such as would be sure to fall ofi" and 
lea^e them naked before that fiery tribunal, which knows no 
other way of judging men, but according to their works. 

Obedience and upright walking are such substantial, vital parts 
of rehgion, as, if they be wanting, can nfever be made up, or 
commuted for by any formalities of fiintastic looks or language. 
And the great question, when we come hereafter to be judged, 
will not be, How demurely have you looked? or, how boldly 
have you believed ? With what length have you prayed ? and, 
with what loudness and vehemence have you preached? but. 
How holily have you lived ? and how uprightly have you walked ? 
For this, and this only, with the merits of Christ's righteousness, 
will come into account, before that great judge, who will pass 
sentence upon every man " according to what he has done here 
in the flesh, whether it be good, or whether it be evil ;" and 
" there is no respect of persons with him." 

To whom therefore be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, 
all praise, might, majesty, and dominion, both now and for ever- 
more. Amen. 



[Preached before the University at Christ Church, Oxon, 16G4.] 

John xv. 15. 

Henceforth I call you not servants ; for the servant knoweth not 
what Ids Lord doeth : but I have called you friends ; for all 
things that I have heard of my Father I have made known 
unto you. 

We have here an account of Clu-ist's friendship to his disci- 
jjles; that is, we have the best of things represented in the 
greatest of examples. In other men we see the excellency, but 
in Christ the divinity of friendship. By our baptism and church 
communion we are made one body with Christ ; but by this we 
become one soul. 

Love is the greatest of human affections, and friendship is the 
noblest and most refined improvement of love ; a quahty of the 
largest compass. And it is here admirable to observe the as- 
cending gradation of the love which Christ bore to his discij^les. 
The strange and superlative greatness of which will a^Dpear from 
those several degrees of kindness that it has manifested to man, 
in the several periods of liis condition. As, 

1. If we consider him antecedently to his creation, while he 
yet lay in the barren womb of nothing, and only in the number 
of possibilities ; and consequently could have nothing to recom- 
mend him to Clu'ist's affection, nor show any thing lovely, but 
what he should afterwards receive from the stamp of a prevent- 
ing love : yet even then did the love of Christ begin to work, 
and to commence in the first emanations and purposes of good- 
ness towards man ; designing to provide matter for itself to work 
upon, to create its own object, and like the sun in the jjroduction 
of some animals, first to give a being, and then to shine upon it. 

2. Let us take the love of Chi'ist as directing itself to man 
actually created and brought into the world; and so aU those 
glorious endowments of human nature, in its original state and 
innocence, were so many demonstrations of the munificent good- 
ness of him, by Avhom God first made, as Avell as afterwards re- 
deemed the world. There was a consult of the whole Trinity 


for the making of man, that so he might shine as a masterpiece, 
not only of the art, but also of tlie kindness of his Creator ; Avith 
a noble and a clear understanding, a rightly disposed Avill, and a 
train of aifections regular and obsequious, and perfectly conform- 
able to the dictates of that high and divine principle, right 
reason. So that, upon the whole matter, he stepped forth, not 
only the work of God's hands, but also the copy of liis perfec- 
tions ; a kind of image or representation of the Deity in small ; 
infinity contracted into flesh and blood ; and, as I may so 
speak, the preludium and first essay towards the incarnation of 
the divine nature. But, 

3. And lastly, let us look upon man, not only as created, and 
brought into the world, with all these great advantages super- 
added to his being ; but also, as depraved and fallen from them ; 
as an outlaw and a rebel, and one that could plead a title to 
nothing, but to the highest severities of a sin-revenging justice. 
Yet even in this estate also, the boundless love of Christ began 
to have warm thoughts and actings towards so wretched a crea- 
ture ; at this time not only not amiable, but highly odious. 

^Vlaile indeed man was yet uncreated and unborn, though he 
had no positive perfection to present and set liim off to Christ's 
view ; yet he was at least negatively clear : and, like unwritten 
paper, though it has no draughts to entertain, yet neither has it 
any blots to offend the eye ; but it is white, and innocent, and 
fair for an after inscription. But man, once fallen, w^as nothing 
but a great blur ; nothing but a total vxniversal pollution, and not 
to be reformed by any thing under a new creation. 

Yet, see here the ascent and progress of Clmst's love. For 
first, if we consider man in such a loathsome and provoking 
condition ; was it not love enough, that he was spared and per- 
mitted to enjoy a being ? since, not to put a traitor to death is a 
singular mercy. But then, not only to continue his being, but 
to adorn it with privilege, and from the number of subjects to 
take him into the retinue of servants, this was yet a greater love. 
For every one that may be fit to be tolerated in a prince's domi- 
nions, is not therefore fit to be admitted into his family ; nor is 
any prince's court to be commensurate to his kingdom. But then 
further to advance him from a servant to a friend ; from only 
living in his house, to lying in his bosom ; this is an instance of 
favour above the rate of a created goodness, an act for none but 
the Son of God, Avho came to do every thing in miracle, to love 
supernaturally, and to pardon infinitely, and even to lay down 
the Sovereign, while he assumed the Saviour. 

The text speaks the winning behaviour and gracious conde- 
scension of Christ to his disciples, in owning them for his friends, 
who were more than sufficiently honoured by being his servants. 
For still these words of his must be understood, not accord- 
ing to the bare rigour of the letter, but according to the arts 

VOL. I. Q 


and allowances of expression : not as if tlie relation of friends 
had actually discharged them from that of servants ; but that 
of the two relations, Christ w^as pleased to overlook the meaner, 
and without any mention of that, to entitle and denominate them 
solely from the more honourable. 

For the further illustration of wliich, we must premise this, 
as a certain and fundamental truth, that so far as service imports 
duty and subjection, all created beings, whether men or angels, 
bear the necessary and essential relation of servants to God, and 
consequently to Clu'ist, who is " God blessed for evei*:" and this 
relation is so necessary, that God himself cannot dispense with 
it, nor discharge a i-ational creature from it ; for although con- 
sequentially indeed he naay do so, by the annihilation of such a 
creature, and the taking away his being, yet supposing the con- 
tinuance of his being, God cannot effect, that a creature which 
has his being from, and his dependence upon him, should not 
stand obliged to do him the utmost service that his nature en- 
ables him to do. For to suppose the contrary, would be irregular 
and opposite to the law of nature, which, consisting in a fixed 
unalterable relation of one nature to another, is, upon that 
account, even by God himself, indispensable. Forasmuch as 
having once made a creature, he cannot cause that that creature 
should not owe a natural relation to his Maker, both of subjec- 
tion and dependence (the very essence of a creature importing 
so much), to which relation if he behaves liimself unsuitably, he 
goes contrary to his nature, and the law^s of it ; which God, the 
author of nature, cannot warrant without being contrary to him- 
self. From all which it follows, that even in our highest estate 
of sanctity and privilege, w^e yet retain the unavoidable obliga- 
tion of Christ's servants ; though still with an advantage as great 
as the obligation, where the service is perfect freedom : so that 
with reference to such a Lord, to serve, and to be free, are terms 
not consistent only, but absolutely equivalent. 

Nevertheless, since the name of servants has of old been 
reckoned to imply a certain meanness of mind, as well as lowness 
of condition, and the ill qualities of many who served, have ren- 
dered the condition itself not very creditable ; especially in those 
ages and places of the world, in Avhich the condition of servants 
was extremely different from what it is now amongst us ; they 
being generally slaves, and such as were bought and sold for 
money, and consequently reckoned but amongst the other goods 
and chattels of their lord or master ; it was for this reason that 
Christ thought fit to wave the appellation of servant here, as, 
according to the common use of it amongst the Jews, and at that 
time most nations besides, importing these three qualifications, 
which, being directly contrary to the spirit of Christianity, were 
by no means to be alloAved in any of Christ's disciples, 

1. The first whereof is that here mentioned in the text ; 


namely, an utter iniacqnaintance with his master's designs in 
these words: "The servant knows not what his lord doth." 
For seldom does any man of sense make Ms servant liis coun- 
sellor, for fear of making him his governor too. A master for 
the most part keeps his choicest goods locked up from his servant, 
but much more his mind. A servant is to knoAv nothing but his 
master's commands ; and in these also, not to know the reason of 
them. Neither is he to stand aloof off from his counsels only, but 
sometimes from his presence also ; and so far as decency is duty, 
it is sometimes his duty to avoid him. But the voice of Clmst 
in his gospel is, "Come to me, all ye that are heavy laden." 
The condition of a servant staves him off to a distance ; but the 
gospel speaks nothing but allurement, attractives, and invitation. 
The magisterial law bids the person under it, " Go, and he must 
go :" but the gospel says to every beUever, " Come, and he 
coraeth." A servant dwells remote from all knowledge of liis 
lord's purposes, he lives as a kind of foreigner under the same 
roof; a domestic, and yet a stranger too. 

2. The name of servant imports a slavish and degenerate awe 
of mind : as it is in Rom. viii. 5, " God has not given us the 
spirit of bondage again to fear." He who serves has still the low 
and ignoble restraints of dread upon his spirit ; which in business, 
and even in the midst of action, cramps and ties up his activity. 
He fears his master's anger, but designs not his favour. " Quicken 
me," says David, " with thy free spirit." It is the freedom of the 
spirit that gives worth and life to the performance. But a ser- 
vant commonly is less free in mind than in condition ; his very 
will seems to be in bonds and shackles, and desire itself under a 
kind of durance and captivity. In all that a servant does he is 
scarce a voluntary agent, but when he serves himself: all his 
services otherwise, not flowing naturally from propensity and in- 
clination, but being drawn and forced from him by terror and 
coaction. In any work he is put to, let the master withdraw his 
eye, and he will quickly take off his hand. 

3. The appellation of servant imports a mercenary temper and 
disposition ; and denotes such a one, as makes his reward both 
the sole motive and measure of his obedience. He neither loves 
the thing commanded, nor the person who commands it, but is 
whoUy and only intent upon his own emolument. All kindnesses 
done him, and all that is given him over and above w^iat is strictly 
just and his due, makes hun rather worse than better. And this 
is an observation that never fails, where any one has so much 
bounty and so little wit, as to make the experiment. For a ser- 
vant rarely or never ascribes what he receives to the mere liber- 
ality and generosity of the donor, but to his own worth and 
merit, and to the need which he supposes there is of him ; which 
opinion alone will be sure to make any one of a mean servile 
spirit, iflsolent and intolerable. 

■q 2 


And thus I have shown what the qualities of a servant usually 
are, or at least were in that country where our Saviour lived and 
conversed, when he spake these words, which, no doubt, were the 
cause why he would not treat his disciples, whom he designed to 
be of a quite contrary disposition, with this appellation. 

Come we therefore now, in the next place, to show what is 
included in that great character and privilege which he was 
pleased to vouchsafe both to them and to all behevers, in calling 
and accounting them his friends. It includes in it, I conceive, 
these following things : 

1. Freedom of access. House and heart, and all, are open for 
the reception of a friend. The entrance is not beset with solemn 
excuses and lingering delays ; but the passage is easy, and free 
from all obstruction, and not only admits, but even invites the 
comer. How different, for the most part, is the same man from 
himself, as he sustains the person of a magistrate, and as he sus- 
tains that of a friend ! As a magistrate or great officer he locks 
himself up from all approaches by the multiplied formalities of 
attendance, by the distance of ceremony and grandeur ; so many 
hungry officers to be passed through, so many thresholds to be 
saluted, so many days to be spent in waiting for an opportunity 
of, perhaps, but half an hour's converse. 

But when he is to be entertained, whose friendship), not whose 
business, demands an entrance, those formalities presently disap- 
pear, all impediments vanish, and the rigours of the magistrate 
submit to the endearments of a friend. He opens and yields 
himself to the man of business with difficulty and reluctancy, 
but offers himself to the visits of a friend with facility, and all 
the meeting readiness of appetite and desire. The reception of 
one is as different from the admission of the other, as when the 
earth falls open under the incisions of the plough, and when it 
gapes and greedily opens itself to drink in the dew of heaven, or 
the refreshments of a shower : or there is as much difference 
between them, as when a man reaches out liis arms to take up a 
burden, and when he reaches them out to embrace. 

It is confessed, that the vast distance that sin had put between 
,the offending creature and the offended Creator, required the help 
of some great umpire and intercessor, to open liim a new way of 
access to God ; and this Christ did for us as mediator. But we 
read of no mediator to bring us to Christ ; for though, being 
God by nature, he dwells in the height of majesty, and the 
inaccessible glories of a Deity ; yet to keep off all strangeness 
between himself and the sons of men, he has condescended to a 
cognation and consanguinity with us, he has clothed himself with 
flesh and blood, that so he might subdue his glories to a possi- 
bility of human converse. And therefore, he that denies himself 
an immediate access to Christ, affronts him in the great relation 
of a friend ; and as opening himself both to our persons and 


to our wants, with the greatest tenderness and the freest invi- 
tation. There is none who acts a friend by a deputy, or can be 
familiar by proxy. 

2. The second privilege of friendship is a favourable construc- 
tion of all passages between friends, that are not of so high and 
so malio;n a nature as to dissolve the relation. " Love covers a 
multitude of sins," says the apostle, 1 Pet. iv. 8. When a scar 
cannot be taken away, the next kind office is to hide it. Love 
is never so blind, as when it is to spy faults. It is like the 
painter, who being to draw the picture of a friend having a ble- 
mish in one eye, would picture only another side of his face. It 
is a noble and a o-reat thing; to cover the blemishes and to excuse 
the faiUngs of a friend ; to draw a curtain before his stains, and to 
disj^lay his pei'fections ; to bury his weaknesses in silence, but to 
proclaim his virtues upon the housetop. It is an imitation of the 
charities of heaven, which, when the creature lies prostrate in the 
weakness of sleep and weariness, spreads the covering of night 
.and darkness over it, to conceal it in that condition : but as soon 
as our spirits are refreshed, and nature returns to its morning 
vigour, God then bids the sun rise, and the day shine upon us, 
both to advance and show that activity. 

It is the ennobling office of the understanding, to correct the 
fallacious and mistaken reports of sense, and to assure us thAt the 
staff in the water is straight, though our eye would tell us it is 
ci'ooked. So it is the excellency of friendship to rectify, or at 
least to qualify the malignity of those surmises that would mis- 
represent a friend, and traduce him in our thoughts. Am I told 
that my friend has done me an injury, or that he has committed 
any undecent action ? Why, the first debt that I both owe to his 
friendship, and that he may challenge from mine, is rather to 
question the truth of the report, than presently to believe my 
friend unworthy. Or, if matter of fact breaks out and blazes 
with too great an evidence to be denied, or so much as doubted 
of ; why, still there are other lenitives, that friendship will apply, 
before it Avill be brought to the decretoiy rigours of a condemning 
sentence. A friend will be sure to act the part of an advocate, 
before he will assume that of a judge. And there are few 
actions so ill, unless they are of a very deep and black tincture 
indeed, but will admit of some extenuation, at least from those 
common topics of human frailty ; such as are ignorance or inad- 
vertency, passion or surprise, company or soHcitation, with many 
other such tilings, which may go a great way towards an excusing 
of the agent, though they cannot absolutely justify the action. 
All which apologies for, and alleviations of faults, though they 
are the heights of humanity, yet they are not the favours, but 
the duties of friendship. Charity itself commands us, where we 
know no ill, to tliink well of all. But friendship, that always 
goes a pitch higher, gives a man a peculiar right and claim to the 


good opinion of his friend. And if we justly look upon a pi'one- 
ness to find faults, as a very ill and a mean thing, we are to 
remember, that a proneness to believe them is next to it. 

We have seen here the demeanour of friendship between man 
and man : but how is it, think we now, between Christ and the 
soul that depends upon him ? Is he any ways short in these offices 
of tenderness and mitigation ? No, assui-edly ; but by infinite 
degrees superior. For Avliere our heart does but relent, his 
melts; where our eye pities, his bowels yearn. How many 
frowardnesses of ours does he smother, how many indignities 
does he pass by, and how many afironts does he put u^^ at our 
hands, because his love is invincible, and his friendship unchange- 
able ! He rates every action, every sinful infirmity, Avith the 
allowances of mercy : and never weighs the sin, but together 
with it he weighs the force of the inducement ; how much of it 
is to be attributed to choice, how much to the violence of the 
temptation, to the stratagem of the occasion, and the yielding 
frailties of weak nature. 

Should we try men at that rate that we try Christ, we should 
quickly find, that the largest stock of human friendship would 
be too little for us to spend long upon. But his compassion fol- 
lows us with an infinite supply. He is God in his friendship, as 
well as in his nature, and therefore we sinful creatures are not 
taken upon advantages, nor consumed in our provocations. 

See this exemplified in his behaviour to his disciples, while he 
was yet upon earth. How ready was he to excuse and cover 
their infirmities I At the last and bitterest scene of his life, 
when he was so full of agony and horror upon the approach of a 
dismal death, and so had most need of the refreshments of society, 
and the friendly assistance of liis disciples; and when also he 
desired no more of them, but only for a while to sit up and pray 
with him: yet they, like persons wholly imtoiTched with his 
agonies, and unmoved with his passionate entreaties, forget both 
his and their own cares, and securely sleep away all concern for 
him or themselves either. Now, what a fierce and sarcastic re- 
prehension may we imagine this would have drawn from the 
friendships of the world, that act but to a human pitch ! and yet 
what a gentle one did it receive from Christ ! in Matt. xxvi. 40, 
no more than, " Wliat, could you not watch with me for one 
hour ?" And when from this admonition they took only occasion 
to redovible their fault, and to sleep again, so that vipon a second 
and third admonition they had nothing to plead for their un- 
seasonable drowsiness, yet then Christ, who was the only person 
concerned to have resented and aggravated this their unliindness, 
finds an extenuation for it, Avhen they themselves could not: 
" The spirit indeed is willing," says he, " but the flesh is weak." 
As if he had said, I know your hearts, and am satisfied of your 
affection, and therefore accept jour will, and compassionate your 


weakness. So benign, so gracious is the friendship of Christ, so 
answerable to our wants, so suitable to our frailties. Happy 
that man, who has a friend to point out to him the perfection of 
duty, and yet to pardon him in the lapses of his infirmity ! 

3. The third privilege of friendship is a sympathy in joy and 
grief. When a man shall have diffused his life, his self, and his 
whole concernments so far, that he can weep his sorrows with 
another's eyes ; when he has another heart besides his own, both 
to share and to support his griefs, and when, if his joys overflow, 
he can treasure up the overplus and redundancy of them in 
another breast ; so that he can, as it were, shake off the solitude 
of a single nature, by dwelling in two bodies at once, and living 
by another's breath ; this svu'cly is the height, the very spirit 
and perfection of all human felicities. 

It is a true and happy observation of that great philosopher 
the Lord Verulam, that this is the benefit of communication of 
our minds to others, " that sorrows by being communicated grow 
less, and joys greater." And indeed sorrow, like a stream, loses 
itself in many channels : and joy, like a ray of the sun, reflects 
with a greater ardour and quickness when it rebounds upon a 
man from the breast of his friend. 

jSTow friendship is the only scene upon which the glorious 
truth of this great proposition can be fully acted and drawn 
forth. Which indeed is a summary description of the sweets of 
friendship : and the whole life of a friend in the several parts and 
instances of it, is only a more diffuse comment upon, and a 
plainer explication of this divine aphorism. Friendship never 
restrains a pleasure to a single frviition : but such is the royal 
nature of this quality, that it still expresses itself in the style of 
kings, as we do this or that ; and this is our happiness ; and such 
or such a thing belongs to us ; when the immediate possession of 
it is vested only in one. Nothing certainly in nature, can so 
peculiarly gratify the noble dispositions of humanity, as for one 
man to see another so much himself, as to sigh his griefs, and 
groan his pains, to sing his joys, and, as it were, to do and feel 
every thing by sympathy, and secret inexpressible communica- 
tions. Thus it is upon a human account. 

Let us now see how Christ sustains and makes good this 
generous quahty of a friend. And this we shall find fully set 
forth to us, in Heb. iv. 15, where he is said to be a "merciful 
High Priest, touched with the feeling of our infirmities ; and 
that in all our afflictions he is afflicted," Isa. Ixiii. 9. And no 
doubt, with the same bowels and meltings of aflection, with 
which any tender mother hears and bemoans the groanings of 
her sick child, does Christ hear and sympathize with the spiritual 
agonies of a soul under desertion, or the pressures of some sting- 
ing affliction. It is enough that he understands the exact mea- 
sures of oin- strengths and weaknesses ; that " he knows our 


frame," as it is in Psalm ciii. 14. And that he does not only- 
know, but emphatically, that he " remembers also that we are 
but dust." Observe that signal passage of his loving commise- 
ration ; as soon as he had risen from the dead, and met Mary 
Magdalene, in Mark xvi. 7, he sends this message of his resur- 
rection by her : " Go, tell my disciples and Peter, that I am 
risen." What ! Avas not Peter one of his disciples ? ^Tiy then 
is he mentioned particularly and by himself, as if he were 
exempted out of their number? Why, we know into what a 
plunge he had newly cast himself by denying his Master ; upon 
occasion of which he was now struggling with all the perplexities 
and horrors of mind imaginable, lest Christ might, in like man- 
ner, deny and disown him before his Father, and so repay one 
denial with another. Hereupon Christ particularly applies the 
comforts of his resurrection to him, as if he had said. Tell all 
my disciples, but be sure especially to tell poor Peter, that I am 
risen from the dead ; and that, notwithstanding his denial of me, 
the benefits of my resurrection belong to him, as much as to any 
of the rest. This is the privilege of the saints, to have a com- 
panion and a supporter in all their miseries, in all the doubtful 
turnings and doleful passages of their lives. In sum, this hapjji- 
ness does Christ vouchsafe to all his, that as a Saviour he once 
suifered for them, and that as a friend, he always suffers with 

4. The fourth privilege of friendship is that which is here 
specified in the text, a communication of secrets. A bosom 
secret and a bosom friend are usually put together. And this 
from Christ to the soul, is not only kindness, but also honour 
and advancement; it is for him to vouch it one of his privy 
council. Nothing under a jewel is taken into the cabinet. A 
secret is the apple of our eye ; it will bear no touch nor approach ; 
we use to cover nothing but what we account a rarity. And 
therefore to communicate a secret to any one, is to exalt him to 
one of the royalties of heaven ; for none knows the secret of a 
man's mind, but liis God, his conscience, and his friend. Neither 
would any prudent man let such a thing go out of his own heart, 
had he not another heart besides his own to receive it. 

Now it was of old a pri\dlege, with which God was pleased 
to honour such as served liim at the rate of an extraordinary 
obedience, thus to admit them to a knowledge of many of his 
great counsels locked up from the rest of the world. When 
God had designed the destruction of Sodom, the scripture repre- 
sents him as unable to conceal that great purpose from Abraham, 
whom he always treated as his friend and acquaintance ; that is, 
not only with love, but also with intimacy and familiarity, in 
Gen. xviii. ver. 17, "And the Lord said. Shall I hide from 
Abraham the thing that I go about to do ? " He thought it a 
violation of the rights of friendship to reserve his design wholly 


to himself. And St. James tells us, in James ii. 23, that " Abra- 
ham was called the friend of God ; " and therefore had a kind 
of claim to the knowledge of his secrets, and the participation 
of his counsels. Also in Exod. xxxiii. 11, it is said of God, 
that he " spoke to Moses as a man speaketh to his friend." And 
that, not only for the familiarity and faciUty of address, but also 
for the peculiar communications of liis mind. Moses was with 
him in the retirements of the mount, received there his dictates, 
and his private instructions as a deputy and viceroy ; and when 
the multitude and the congregation of Israel were thundered away 
and kept off from any approach to it, he was honoured with an 
intimate and immediate admission. The priests indeed were 
taken into a near attendance upon God; but still there was a 
degree of a nearer converse, and the interest of a friend was 
above the privileges of the highest servant. In Exod. xix. 24, 
" Thou shalt come up," says God, " thou and Aaron with thee ; 
but let not the priests and the people break through to come vip 
unto the Lord, lest the Lord break forth upon them." And if 
we proceed further, we shall still find a continuation of the same 
privilege : Psalm xxv. 14, " The secret of the Lord is with 
them that fear him." Nothing is to be concealed from the other 
self. To be a friend, and to be conscious, are terms eqviivalent. 

Now, if God maintained such intimacies with those whom he 
loved under the law (which was a dispensation of greater dis- 
tance), we may be sure that under the gosjoel (the very nature 
of which imports condescension and compliance), there must 
needs be the same with much greater advantage. And therefore 
when God had manifested himself in the flesh, hoAV sacredly did 
he preserve this privilege ! How freely did Christ unbosom himself 
to his disciples ! in Luke viii. 10, " Unto you," says he, " it is 
- given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God : but unto 
others in parables ; that seeing they might not see : " such shall be 
pennitted to cast an eye into the ark, and to look into the very 
Holy of Holies. And again in Matt. xiii. 17, " Many prophets 
and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, 
and have not seen them ; and to hear those tilings which ye hear, 
and have not heard them." Neither did he treat them with these 
peculiarities of favour in the extraordinary discoveries of the 
gospel only, but also of those incommunicable revelations of the 
divine love, in reference to their own personal interest in it. In 
Kev. ii. 17, " To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the 
hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone 
a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that re- 
ceiveth it." Assurance is a rarity covered from the inspection of 
the world. A secret that none can knoAV but God, and the 
person that is blessed with it. It is written in a private character, 
not to be read nor understood but by the conscience, to which the 
Spirit of God has vouchsafed to decipher it. Every believer 

234 DR. SOUTh's sermons. [[sERM. XIV. 

lives upon an inward provision of comfort, that the world is a 
stranger to. 

5. The fifth advantage of friendship is counsel and advice. 
A man will sometimes need not only another heart but also 
another head besides his own. In solitude there is not only dis- 
comfort, but weakness also ; and that saying of the wise man, 
Eccles. iv. 10, " Woe to liim that is alone," is verified upon none 
so m uch, as upon the friendless person. When a man shall be 
perplexed with knots and problems of business and contrary 
aflfairs ; where the determination is dubious, and both parts of 
the contrariety seem equally weighty, so that which way soeyer 
the choice determines, a man is sure to venture a great concern ; 
how happy then is it to fetch in aid from another person, whose 
judgment may be greater than my own, and whose concernment 
is sure not to be less ! There are some passages of a man's 
affairs that would quite break a single understanding : so many 
intricacies, so many labj'rinths, are there in them, that the 
succours of reason fail, the very force and sjjirit of it being lost 
in an actual intention scattered upon several clashing objects at 
once ; in which case the interposal of a friend is like the sujDply 
of a fresh party to a besieged, yielding city. 

Now Christ is not failing in this office of a friend also. For 
in that illustrious prediction of Isa. ix. 6, amongst the rest of his 
great titles, he is called " Mighty Counsellor." And his counsel 
is not only sure, but also free. It is not under the gospel of 
Christ, as under some laws of men, where you must be forced to 
buy your counsel, and oftentimes pay dear for bad advice. No, 
" he is the lii>;lit of those that sit in darkness." And no man 
fees the sun, no man purchases the light, nor errs if he walks by 
it. The only price that Christ sets upon his counsel is, that we 
follow it ; and that we do that which is best for us to do. He 
is not only light for us to see hy, but also light for us to see 
with. He is understanding to the ignorant, and eyes to the 
blind : and whosoever has both a faithful and a discreet friend, 
to guide him in the dark, slippery, and dangerous passage of his 
life, may carry his eyes in another man's head, and yet see never 
the worse. In 1 Cor. i. 30, the apostle teUs us, that Christ is 
made to us, not only " sanctification and redemption," but " wis- 
dom" too. We are his members, and it is but natural that all 
the members of the body should be guided by the wisdom of the 

And therefore, let every believer comfort himself in this high 
privilege, that in the great things that concern his eternal peace, 
he is not left to stand or fall by the uncertain directions of his 
own judgment. No, sad were his condition if he should be so, 
when he is to encounter an enemy made up of wiles and strata- 
gems, an old serpent, and a long experienced deceiver, and suc- 
cessful at the trade for some thousands of years. 


The inequality of the match between such a one and the subtlest 
of us, would quickly appear by a fatal circumvention. There 
must be a wisdom from above to overreach and master this 
hellish Avisdom from beneath. And this every sanctified person 
is sure of in his great Friend, " in whom all the treasures of 
wisdom dwell ;" treasures that flow out, and are imparted freely 
both in direction and assistance to all that belong to him. He 
never leaves any of his perplexed, amazed, or bewildered, where 
the welfare of theu' souls requires a better jvidgment than their 
own, either to guide them in their duty, or to disentangle them 
from a temptation. Whosoever has Christ for his friend, shall 
be sure of counsel; and whosoever is his own friend, will be sure 
to obey it. 

6. The last and crowning privilege, or rather property of 
friendship is constancy. He only is a friend whose friendship 
lives as long as himself; who ceases to love and to breathe at the 
same instant. Not that I yet state constancy in such an absurd, 
senseless, irrational continuance in friendship, as no injuries, or 
provocations whatsoever, can break off. For there are some 
injuries that extinguish the very relation between friends. In 
which case, a man ceases to be a friend, not from any inconstancy 
in liis friendship, but from defect of an object for his friendship 
to exert itself upon. It is one thing for a father to cease to be 
a father, by casting off his son ; and another for him to cease to 
be so, by the death of his son. In tliis the relation is at an end 
for want of a correlate. So in friendship, there are some pas- 
sages of that high and hostile nature, that they really and pro- 
pei'ly constitute and denominate the person guilty of them, an 
enemy ; and if so, how can the other person possibly continue a 
friend, since friendship essentially requii'es that it be between two 
at least ; and there can be no friendship, where there are not two 
friends ? 

Nobody is bound to look upon his backbiter or his underminer, 
his betrayer or his oppressor, as his friend. Nor indeed is it pos- 
sible that he should do so, unless he could alter the constitution 
and order of things, and estabUsh a new nature and a new mo- 
raHty in the world. For to remain unsensible of such provoca- 
tions is not constancy, but apathy. And therefore they discharge 
the person so treated from the proper obhgations of a friend; 
though Christianity, I confess, binds him to the duties of a 

But to give you the time nature and measures of constancy ; 
it is such a stability and firmness of friendship as overlooks and 
passes by all those lesser failures of kindness and respect, that 
partly through passion, partly through indiscretion, and such other 
frailties incident to human natvire, a man may be sometimes 
guilty of and yet still retain the same habitual good-will, and 
prevailing propensity of mind to his friend, that he liad before. 

236 DR. SOUTh's SKRMONS. [|sERM, XIV. 

And whose friendship soever is of that strength and duration as 
to stand its ground against, and remain unshaken by such assaults 
which yet are strong enough to sh^e down and annihilate the 
friendship of little puny minds — such a one, I say, has reached 
all the true measures of constancy. His friendshijD is of a noble 
make, and a lasting consistency; it resembles marble, and de- 
serves to be written upon it. 

But how few tempers in the world are of that magnanimous 
frame, as to reach the heights of so great a virtue ! Many offer at 
the effects of friendship, but they do not last ; they are promising 
in the beginning, but they fail, and jade, and tire in the prosecu- 
tion. For most people in the world are acted by levity, and hu- 
mour, and by strange and irrational changes. And how often 
may we meet with those who are one while courteous, civil, and 
obliging (at least to their proportion), but within a small time 
after, are so supercilious, sharp, troiiblesome, fierce, and excep- 
tions, that they are not only short of the true character of friend- 
ship, but become the very sores and burdens of society ! Such 
low, such worthless dispositions, how easily are they discovered, 
how justly are they despised ! But now that we may pass from 
one contrary to another : Christ, " who is the same yesterday, to 
day, and for ever," in his being, is so also in his affection. He is 
not of the number or nature of those pitiful, mean pretenders to 
friendship, who perhaps will love and smile upon you one day, 
and not so much as know you the next : many of which sort 
there are in the world, who are not so much courted outwardly, 
but that inwardly they are detested much more. 

Friendship is a kind of covenant ; and most covenants run upon 
mutual terms and conditions. And therefore so long as we are 
exact in fulfilling the condition on our parts, I mean, exact ac- 
cording to the measures of sincerity, though not of perfection, 
we may be sure that Christ will not fail in the least iota to fulfil 
every thing on his. The favour of relations, patrons, and princes, 
is uncertain, ticklish, and variable ; and the friendship which they 
take up, upon the accounts of judgment and merit, they most 
times lay down out of humour. But the friendship of Christ 
has none of these weaknesses, no such hollo wnesfr or unsoundness 
in it. For neither principalities nor powers, things present nor 
things to come ; no, nor all the rage and malice of hell, shall be 
able to pluck the meanest of Christ's friends out of his bosom : 
for, " whom he loves he loves to the end." 

Now from the particulars hitherto discoursed of, we may infer 
and learn these two things : 1. The excellency and value of friend- 
ship. Clirist, the Son of the most high God, the second person in 
the glorious Trinity, took upon him our nature that he might give 
a great instance and example of this virtue ; and condescended to be 
a man, only that he might be a friend. Our Creator, our Lord and 
King, he was before; but he wovdd needs come down from all 


this, and, in a sort, become our equal, that he might partake of 
that noble quality that is properly betAveen equals. Christ took 
not upon liim ile'sh and blood, that he might conquer and rule 
nations, lead armies, or possess palaces ; but that he might have 
the relenting, the tenderness, and the compassions of human 
nature, Avhich render it properly capable of friendship ; and, in a 
word, that we might have our heart, and we have his. God him- 
self sets friendship above all considerations of kindred or consan- 
guinity, as the greatest ground and argument of mutual endear- 
ment, in Deut. xv. 6 : ^' If thy brother, the son of thy mother, 
or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy 
friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee to go and serve 
other gods, thou shalt not consent imto him." The emphasis of 
the expression is very remarkable, it being a gradation, or ascent, 
by several degrees of dearness, to that which is the highest of 
all. Neither wife nor brother, son nor daughter, though the 
nearest in cognation, are alloAved to stand in competition with a 
friend ; who, if he fully answers the duties of that great relation, 
is indeed better and more valuable than all of them put together, 
and may serve instead of them ; so that he who has a firm, a 
Avorthy, and sincere friend, may want all the rest without missing 
them. That wliich lies in a man's bosom, should be dear to him ; 
but that which lies witliin his heart, ought to be much dearer. 
2. In the next place we learn from hence the high advantage of 
becoming truly pious and religious. When we have said and 
done all, it is only the true Christian, and the rehgious person, 
Avho is, or can be sure of a friend ; sure of obtaining, sure of 
keeping him. But as for the friendship of the world ; when a 
man shall have done all that he can to make one his friend, 
employed the utmost of his Avit and labour, beaten his brains, and 
emptied his purse, to create an endearment betAveen him and the 
person Avhose friendship he desires, he may, in the end, upon all 
these endeavours and attempts, be forced to write vanity and 
frustration : for, by them all, he may at last be no more able to 
get into the other's heart, than he is to thrust his hand into a 
piUar of brass. The man's affection, amidst all these kindnesses 
done him, remaining wholly unconcerned and impregnable ; just 
like a rock, Avhich being plied continually by the Avaves, still 
throws them back again into the bosom of the sea that sent them, 
but is not at all moved by any of them. 

People at first, while they are young and raw, and soft 
natured, are apt to think it an easy tiling to gain love, and 
reckon their oavu friendship a sure price of another man's. But 
Avhen experience shall have once opened their eyes, and shown 
them the hardness of most hearts, the hoUoAvness of others, and 
the baseness and ingratitude of almost all, they Avill then find, 
that a friend is the gift of God ; and that he only, Avho made 
hearts, can unite them. For it is he Avho creates those sympa- 

238 DR. SOUTH's sermons. [^SERM. XIV. 

thies and suitablenesses of nature, that are the foundation of all 
true friendship, and then by his providence brings persons so 
affected together. 

It is an expression frequent in scripture, but infinitely more 
significant than at first it is usually observed to be : namely, 
that God gave such or such a person grace or favour in another's 
eyes. As for instance, in Gen. xxxix. 21, it is said of Joseph, 
that " the Lord was vs^ith him, and gave him favour in the sight 
of the keeper of the prison." Still it is an invisible hand from 
heaven that ties this knot, and mingles hearts and souls, by 
strange, secret, and unaccountable conjunctions. 

That heart shall surrender itself, and its friendship, to one 
man, at first view, which another has, in vain, been laying siege to 
for many years, by all the repeated acts of kindness imaginable. 
Nay, so far is friendship from being of any human protection, 
that unless nature be predisposed to it, by its own propensity or 
inchuation, no arts of obHgation shall be able to abate the secret 
hatreds and hostilities of some persons towards others. No 
friendly offices, no addresses, no benefits whatsoever, shall ever 
alter or allay that diaboKcal rancour, that frets and ferments in 
some helHsh breasts, but that upon all occasions it will foam out 
at its foul mouth in slander and invective, and sometimes bite too 
in a shrewd turn or a secret blow. This is true and undeniable 
upon frequent experience ; and happy those who can learn it at 
the cost of other men's. 

But now, on the contrary, he who will give up his name to 
Christ in faith unfeigned, and a sincere obedience to all his 
righteous laws, shall be sure to find love for love, and friendsliip 
for friendship. The success is certain and infallible ; and none 
ever yet miscarried in the attempt. For Christ freely offers his 
friendship to all ; and sets no other rate upon so vast a purchase, 
but only that he would suffer him to be our friend. Thou per- 
haps spendest thy precious time in waiting upon such a great one, 
and thy estate in presenting him ; and, probably after all, hast no 
other reward, but sometimes to be smiled upon, and always to be 
smiled at ; and when thy greatest and most pressing occasions 
shall call for succour and relief, then to be deserted and cast off, 
and not known. 

Now, I say, turn the stream of thy endeavours another way, 
and bestow but half that hearty, sedulous attendance upon thy 
Savioui', in the duties of prayer and mortification ; and be at half 
that expense in charitable works, by relieving Christ in his poor 
members, and, in a word, study as much to please him Avho died 
for thee, as thou dost to court and humour thy great patron, who 
cares not for thee, and thou shalt make him thy friend for ever ; 
a friend, who shall own thee in thy lowest condition, speak com- 
fort to thee in all thy sorrows, counsel thee in all thy doubts, 
answer all thy wants, and, in a word, " never leave thee nor for- 


sake thee." But when all the hopes that thou hast raised upon 
the promises or supposed kindnesses of the fastidious and fallacious 
great ones of the Avorld, shall fail, and upbraid thee to thy face, 
he shall then take thee into his bosom, embrace, cherish, and 
support thee ; and, as the psalmist expresses it, " he shall guide 
thee with his counsel here, and afterwards receive thee into 

To which God of his mercy vouchsafe to bring us all ; to 
whom be rendered and ascribed, &c. Amen. 




ECCLES. V. 2. 

Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter 
any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon 
earth: therefore let thy loords be few. 

We have here the wisest of men iBstructlng us how to behave 
ourselves before God in his own house ; and particularly when 
we address to him in the most important of all duties, which is 
prayer. Solomon had the honour to be spoken to by God him- 
self, and therefore, in all likelihood, none more fit to teach us 
how to speak to God. A great privilege certainly for dust and 
ashes to be admitted to ; and therefore it will concern us to 
manage it so, that in these our approaches to the IGng of heaven, 
his goodness may not cause us to forget his greatness, nor (as it 
is but too usual for subjects to use privilege against prerogative) 
his honour suifer by his condescension. 

In the words we have these three things observable. 

1. That whosoever appears in the house of God, and particu- 
larly in the way of prayei', ought to reckon himself, in a more 
especial manner, placed in the sight and presence of God. 

2. That the vast and infinite distance between God and him, 
ought to create in him all imaginable awe and reverence, in such 
his addresses to God. 

3. And lastly, That this reverence required of him, is to con- 
sist in a serious preparation of his thoughts, and a sober govern- 
ment of his expressions : neither is his mouth to be rash, nor his 
heart to be hasty, in tittering any thing before God. 

These things are evidently contained in the words, and do as 
evidently contain the whole sense of them. But I shall gather 
them all into this one proposition ; namely, 

That premeditation of thought, and brevity of expression, are 
the great ingredients of that reverence, that is required to a 
pious, acceptable, and devout prayer. 

For the better handling of which, we will, in the first place, 
consider how and by what way it is, that prayer works upon, or 
prevails with God, for the obtaining of the things we pray for. 
Concerning which, I shall lay down this general rule, that the 
way by which prayer prevails with God, is wholly different from 


that by which it prevails Avith men. And to give you this more 

1. First of all, it prevails not with God by way of information 
or notification of the thing to him, which we desire of him. With 
men indeed, this is the common, and with wise men the chief, 
and should be the only way of obtaining what we ask of them. 
We represent and lay before them our Avants and indigencies, 
and the misery of our condition; which being made known to 
them, the quality and condition of the thing asked for, and of the 
persons who ask it, induces them to give that to us, and to do 
that for us, which we desire and petition for. But it is not so 
in our addresses to God, for he knows our wants and our condi- 
tions better than we ourselves : he is beforehand with all our 
prayers, Matt. vi. 8, " Your Father knoweth what things ye have 
need of before ye ask him ;" and in Psalm cxxxix. 2, " Thou 
understandest my thought afar off." God knows our thoughts 
before the very heart that conceives them. And how then can 
he, who is but of yesterday, suggest any thing new to that eternal 
mind ! How can ignorance inform omniscience ! 

2. Neither does prayer prevail with God by way oi persuasion, 
or working upon the affections, so as thereby to move him to pity 
or compassion. This indeed is the most usual and most effectual 
way to prevail with men ; who, for the generaHty, are one part 
reason, and nine parts affection. So that one of a voluble 
tongue, and a dexterous insinuation, may do what he will with 
vulgar minds, and with wise men too, at their weak times. But 
God, who is as void of passion or affection as he is of quantity or 
corporeity, is not to be dealt with this way. He values not our 
rhetoric, nor our pathetical harangues. He who applies to God, 
applies to an infinite almighty Reason, a pure act, all intellect, 
the first mover, and therefore not to be moved or wrought upon 
himself. In all passion the mind suffers (as the very signification 
of the word imports) ; but absolute, entire perfection cannot 
suffer; it is and must be immovable, and by consequence im- 
passible. And therefore. 

In the third and last place, much less is God to be prevailed 
upon by importunity, and, as it were, wearying him into a con- 
cession of what we beg of him. Though with men we know tliis 
also is not unusual. A notable instance of which Ave have in Luke 
xviii. 4, 5, Avhere the unjust judge being with a restless vehe- 
mence sued to for justice, says thus within himself: " Though I 
fear not God, nor regard man, yet because this AvidoAv troubleth 
me, I Avill avenge her, lest by her continual coming she Aveary me." 

In like manner, how often are beggars relieved only for their 
eager and rude importunity ; not that the person who relieves 
them is thereby informed or satisfied of their real want, nor yet 
moved to pity them by all their cry and cant, but to rid himself 
from their vexatious noise and din; so that, to purchase his 

VOL. I. R 


quiet by a little alms, he gratifies the beggar; but indeed 
relieves himself. But now this way is further from jjre vailing 
with God than either of the former. For as omniscience is not 
to be informed, so neither is omnipotence to be Avearied. We 
may much more easily think to clamour the sun and stars out of 
their courses, than to word the great Creator of them out of the 
steady purposes of his own will, by all the vehemence and loud- 
ness of our petitions. Men may tire themselves with their own 
prayers, but God is not to be tired. The rapid motion and 
Avhirl of things here below, interrupts not the inviolable rest and 
calmness of the noble beings above. While the winds roar and 
bluster here in the first and second regions of the aii*, there is a 
perfect serenity in the third. Men's desires cannot control 
God's decrees. 

And thus I have shown, that the tlu-ee ways by which men 
prevail with men in their prayers and aj^plications to them, have 
no place at all in giving any efficacy to their addresses to God. 

But you will ask then, upon Avhat account is it that prayer 
becomes prevalent and efficacious with God, so as to procure us 
the good things we pray for ? I answer, upon this, that it is the 
fulfilling of that condition, upon which God has freely promised 
to convey his blessings to men. God, of his own absolute, un- 
accountable good will and pleasure, has thought fit to appoint 
and fix upon this as the means by which he will supply and 
answer the wants of mankind. As for instance, suppose a prince 
should declare to any one of his subjects, that if he shall appear 
before him every morning in his bed-chamber, he shall receive 
of him a thousand talents. We must not here imagine that the 
subject, by making this appearance, does either move or per- 
suade his prince to give him such a sum of money : no, he only 
performs the condition of the promise, and thereby acquires a 
right to the thing promised. He does, indeed, hereby engage 
his prince to give him this sum, though he does by no means 
persuade him: or rather, to speak more strictly and properly, 
the prince's own justice and veracity is an engagement upon the 
prince himself, to make good his promise to him who fulfils the 
conditions of it. 

But you will say, that upon this ground it will follow, that 
when we obtain any thing of God by prayer, we have it upon claim 
of justice, and not by way of gift, as a free result of his bounty. 

I answer, that both these are very well consistent; for though 
he who makes a promise upon a certain condition, is bound in 
justice, upon the fulfilling of that condition, to perform liis pro- 
mise ; yet it was perfectly grace and goodness, bounty and free 
mercy, that first induced him to make the promise, and particu- 
larly to state the tenor of it upon such a condition. " If we 
confess our sins," says the apostle, 1 John i. 9, " God is faith- 
ful and just to forgive us our sins," Can any thing be freer, 


and more the effect of mere grace, than the forgiveness of sms ? 
And yet it is certain from this scripture and many more, that it 
is firmly promised us upon condition of a penitent hearty con- 
fession of them; and, consequently, as certain it is, that God 
stands obliged here, even by his faithfulness and justice, to make 
good this his promise of forgiveness to those who come up to the 
terms of it by such a confession. 

In like manner, for prayer, in reference to the good things 
prayed for. He who prays for a tiling as God has appointed 
him, gets thereby a right to the thing prayed for : but it is a 
right, not springing from any merit or condignity, either in the 
prayer itself, or the person who makes it, to the blessing which 
he prays for ; but from God's veracity, truth, and justice, Avho 
having appointed prayer as the condition of that blessing, cannot 
but stand to what he himself had appointed ; though that he did 
appoint it, was the free result and determination of his own will. 

We have a full account of this whole matter from God's own 
mouth, in the oOth Psalm : " Call upon me," says God, " in the 
day of trouble, and I will dehver thee." These*ire evidently 
the terms upon wliich God answers prayers : in which case there 
is no doubt, but the deliverance is still of more worth than the 
prayer ; and there is as little doubt also, that without such a 
previous declaration made on God's part, a person so in trouble 
or distress, might pray his heart out, and yet God not be in the 
least obliged by all his prayers, either in justice or honour, or 
indeed so much as in mercy, to deliver him ; for mercy is free, 
and misery cannot oblige it. In a word, pra,yer procures deliver- 
ance from trouble, just as Naaman's dipping himself seven times 
in Jordan procured him a deliverance from his leprosy ; not by 
any ^artue in itself adequate to so great an effect, you may be 
sure ; but from this, that it was appointed by God as the condi- 
tion of his recovery ; and so obHged the power of liim who ap- 
pointed it, to give force and virtue to his own institution, beyond 
what the nature of the thing itself could otherwise have raised 
it to. 

Let this therefore be fixed upon, as the ground-work of what 
we are to say upon this subject : that prayer prevails with God for 
the blessing that we pray for, neither by way of information, nor 
yet of persuasion, and much less by the importunity of him who 
prays, and least of all by any worth in the prayer itself, equal to 
the thing prayed for ; but it prevails solely upon this account, 
that it is freely appointed by God as the stated, allowed condi- 
tion, upon which he will dispense his blessings to mankind. 

But before I dismiss this consideration, it may be inquired, 
whence is it that prayer, rather than any other thing, comes to 
be appointed by God for this condition ? In answer to which, 
though God's sovereign will be a sufficient reason of its own 
coimsels and determinations, and consequently a more than suffi- 

R 2 


cient answer to all our inquiries ; yet since God in his infinite 
wisdom still adapts means to ends, and never appoints a thing to 
any use, but Avhat it has a particular and a natural fitness for ; I 
shall therefore presume to assign a reason why prayer, before all 
other things, should be appointed to this noble use, of being the 
condition and glorious conduit, whereby to derive the bounties of 
heaven upon the sons of men. And it is this : because prayer of 
all other acts of a rational nature, does most peculiarly qualify a 
man to be a fit object of the divine favour, by being most eminently 
and properly an act of dependence upon God ; since to pray, or beg 
a thing of another, in the very nature and notion of it, imports 
these two things: 1. That the person praying stands in need of 
some good, which he is not able, by any power of his own, to 
procure for himself; and, 2. That he acknowledges it in the 
power and pleasure of the person whom he prays to, to confer it 
upon him. And this is properly that which men call to depend. 

But some may reply. There is a universal dependence of all 
things upon God ; forasmuch as he, being the great fountain and 
source of beii%, first created, and since supports them by the 
word of his power; and consequently that tliis dependence 
belongs indifferently to the Avicked as well as to the just, whose 
prayer nevertheless is declared an abomination to God. 

But to this the answer is obvious, That the dependence here 
spoken of, is meant, not of a natural, but of a moral dependence. 
The first is necessary, the other voluntary. The first common 
to all, the other proper to the pious. The first respects God 
barely as a Creator, the other addresses to him as a Father. 
Now such a dependence upon God it is, that is ]3i'operly seen in 
prayer. And being so, if we should in all humble reverence set 
ourselves to examine the wisdom of the divine proceeding in 
this matter, even by the measures of our own reason, what could be 
more rationally thought of for the properest instrument, to bring 
down God's blessings upon the world, than such a temper of 
mind as makes a man disown all ability in himself to supply Ins 
own wants, and at the same time own a transcendent fulness and 
sufficiency in God to do it for him ? And what can be more 
agreeable to all principles, both of reason and religion, than that 
a creature endued with understanding and will, should acknoAV- 
ledge that dependence upon his Maker by a free act of choice, 
which other creatures have upon him, only by necessity of 
nature ? 

But still, there is one objection more against our foregoing 
assertion, viz. ' That prayer obtains the things prayed for, only 
as a condition, and not by way of importunity or persuasion ;' 
for is not prayer said to prevail by frequency, Luke xviii. 7, 
and by fervency or earnestness in James v. 16 ? And is not 
this a fair proof that God is importuned and persuaded into a 
grant of our petitions ? 


To this I answer two things : 1. That wheresoever God is 
said to answer prayers either for their frequency or fervency, it 
is spoken of him only a.vd(iojTro7ra6wQ, according to the manner 
of men ; and consequently, ought to be understood only of the 
effect or issue of such prayers, in the success certainly attending 
them, and not of the manner of their efficiency, that it is by 
pei'suading or working upon the passions : as if we should say, 
frequent, fervent, and importunate prayers, are as certainly fol- 
lowed with God's grant of the thing prayed for, as men use to 
grant that which, being overcome by excessive importunity and 
persuasion, they cannot find in their hearts to deny. 2. I answer 
further. That frequency and fervency of prayer prove effectual 
to procure of God the tilings prayed for, upon no other account 
but as they are acts of dependence upon God : which dependence 
we have already proved to be that tiling essentially included in 
prayer, for which God has been pleased to make prayer the con- 
dition uj)on which he determines to grant men such things as 
they need, and duly apply to him for. So that still there is 
nothing of persuasion in the case. 

And thus having shown (and I hope fully and clearly) how 
prayer operates towards the obtaining of the divine blessings; 
namely, as a condition appointed by God for that purpose, and 
no otherwise : and w ithal, for what reason it is singled out of all 
other acts of a rational nature, to be this condition ; namely, 
because it is the grand instance of such a nature's dependence 
upon God: we shall now from the same principle infer also, 
upon what account the highest reverence of God is so indispens- 
ably required of us in prayer, and all sort of irreverence so dia- 
metrically opposite to, and destructive of the very nature of it. 
And it will appear to be upon tliis, that in what degree any one 
lays aside his reverence of God, in the same he also quits his 
dependence upon him : forasmuch as in every irreverent act, a 
man treats God as if he had indeed no need of him, and behaves 
himself as if he stood upon his own bottom, absolute and self- 
sufficient. This is the natural language, the true signification 
and import of all irreverence. 

Now in all addresses, either to God or man, by speech, our reve- 
rence to them must consist of, and show itself in these two things. 

First, A careful regulation of our thoughts, that are to dictate 
and to govern our words ; which is done by premeditation. And 
secondly, a due ordering of our words, that are to proceed from, 
and to express our thoughts ; which is done by pertinence and 
brevity of expression. 

David, directing his prayer to God, joins these two together, 
as the two great integral parts of it, in Psalm xix. 14, " Let the 
words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be accept- 
able in thy sight, O Lord." So that it seems his prayer ade- 
quately and entirely consisted of those two things, meditation 

246 DK. SOUTh's sermons. []sERM. XV. 

and expression, as it were the matter and form of tliat noble 
composure ; there being no mention at all of distortion of face, 
sanctified grimace, solemn wink, or foaming at the mouth, and 
the like ; all which are circumstances of prayer of a later date, 
and brought into request by those fantastic zealots, who had a 
way of praying, as astonishing to the eyes, as to the ears of those 
that heard them. Well then ; the first ingredient of a pious and 
reverential prayer, is a previous regulation of the thoughts, as 
the text expresses it most emphatically : " Let not thy heart 
be hasty to utter any thing before God ;" that is, in other words, 
let it not venture to throw out its crude, extemporary, sudden 
and misshapen conceptions in the face of infinite perfection. Let 
not thy heart conceive and bring forth together : this is monstrous 
and vmnatural. All abortion is from infirmity and defect. And 
time is required to form the issue of the mind, as well as that of 
the body. The fitness or unfitness of the first thoughts cannot 
be judged of, but by the reflection of the second : and be the 
invention never so fruitfid, yet in the mind, as in the earth, that 
which is cast into it, must lie hid and covered for a while before 
it can be fit to shoot forth. These are the methods of nature, 
and it is seldom but the acts of religion conform to them. 

He who is to pray, woidd he seriously judge of the work that 
is before him, has more to consider of, than either his heart can 
hold, or his head will turn itself to. Prayer is one of the greatest 
and the hardest works that a man has to do in this world : and 
was ever any thing difficult or glorious acliieved by a sudden cast 
of a thought, — a flying stricture of the imagination? Presence 
of mind is indeed good, but haste is not so. And therefore, let 
this be concluded upon, that in the business of prayer, to pre- 
tend to reverence, when there is no premeditation, is both impu- 
dence and contradiction. 

Now this premeditation ought to respect these three things : 
1. The person whom we pray to. 2. The matter of our prayers. 
And, 3. The order and disposition of them. 

1. And first, ior the perso?i lohom we pray to. The same is to 
employ, Avho must needs also nonplus and astonish, thy medita- 
tions, and be made the object of thy thoughts, who infinitely 
transcends them. For all the knowing and reasoning faculties 
of the soul, are utterly baffled, and at a loss, when they oflTer at 
any idea of the great God. Nevertheless, since it is hard, if not 
impossible, to imprint an awe upon the affections, without 
suitable notions first formed in the apprehensions ; we must in 
our prayers endeavour at least to bring these as near to God as 
we can, by considering such of his divine perfections as have, 
by their effects, in a great measure, manifested themselves to our 
senses, and, in a much greater, to the discourses of our reason. 

As, first, consider with thyself, how great and glorious a being 
that must needs be, that raised so vast and beautiful a fabric as 


this of the world out of nothing, with the breath of his moiith, 
and can and will, with the same, reduce it to nothing again ; and 
then consider, that this is that high, amazing incomprehensible 
being, whom thou addressest thy pitiful self to in pi-ayer. 

Consider next, his infinite, all-searching knowledge, which 
looks through and through the most secret of our thoughts, 
ransacks every corner of the heart, ponders the most inward de- 
signs and ends of the soul in all a man's actions. And then con- 
sider, that tliis is the God whom thou hast to deal with in 
prayer ; the God who observes the postures, the frame and 
motion of thy mind, in all thy approaches to him ; and whose 
piercing eye it is impossible to elude or escape by all the ti'icks 
and arts of the subtlest and most refined hypocrisy. And, lastly, 
consider the great, the fiery, and the implacable jealousy that he 
has for his honour : and that he has no other use of the whole 
creation, but to serve the ends of it ; and above all, that he will, 
in a most peculiar manner, " be honoured of those who draw 
near to him ;" and will by no means suffer himself to be mocked 
and aflfronted, under a pretence of being worshipped ; nor endure, 
that a wretched, contemptible, sinful creature, who is but a piece 
of living dirt at best, should at the same time bend the knee to 
him, and spit in his face. And now consider, that this is the 
God whom thou prayest to, and whom thou usest with such 
intolerable indignity, in every unworthy prayer thou puttest up 
to him ; every bold, saucy, and famihar word, that upon confi- 
dence of being one of God's elect thou presumest to debase so 
great a majesty with. And for an instance of the dreadful curse 
that attends such a daring irreverence, consider how God used 
Nadab and Abihu for venturing; to offer strano;e fire before him ; 
and then know, that every unhallowed, imfitting prayer, is a 
strange fire: a fire that will be sure to destroy the offering, 
though mercy should spare the offerer. Consider these things 
seriously, deeply, and severely, till the consideration of them 
affects thy heart, and humbles thy spirit, with such awful appre- 
hensions of thy Maker, and such abject reflections upon thyself, 
as may lay thee in the dust before him. And know, that the 
lower thou fallest, the higher will thy prayer rebound ; and that 
thou art never so fit to pray to God, as when a sense of thy own 
unworthiness makes thee ashamed even to speak to him. 

2. The second object of our premeditation, is the matter of our 
prayers. For, as we are to consider whom we are to pray to ; 
so are we to consider also, what we are to pray for ; and this re- 
quires no ordinary application of thought to distinguish or judge 
of Men's prayers are generally dictated by their desires, and 
their desires are the issues of their affections ; and their affec- 
tions are for the most part influenced by their corruptions. The 
first constituent principle of a well conceived pi-ayer is, to knoAV 
what not to pray for ; which the scriptm-e assures us that some 

248 DR. SOUTh's sermons. QsERM. XV. 

do not, while they " pray for what they may spend upon their 
lusts," James iv. 3 ; asking such things as it is a contumely to 
God to hear, and damnation to themselves to receive. No man 
is to pray for any thing either sinful, or directly tending to sin. 
No man is to pray for a temptation, and much less to desire God 
to be his tempter ; which he would certainly be, should he, at the 
instance of any man's prayer, administer fuel to his sinful or 
absurd appetites. Nor is any one to ask of God things mean 
and trivial, and beneath the majesty of heaven to be concerned 
about, or solemnly addressed to for. Nor, lastly, is any one to 
admit into his petitions things superfluous or extravagant, such 
as Avealth, greatness, and honour ; which we are so far from be- 
ing warranted to beg of God, that we are to beg his grace to 
despise and undervalue them: and it were much, if the same 
things should be the proper objects both of our self-denial, and 
of our prayers too ; and that we should be allowed to solicit the 
satisfaction, and enjoined to endeavour the mortification, of the 
same desires. 

The things that we are to pray for, are either, 1. Things of 
absolute necessity ; or, 2. Things of unquestionable charity. 
Of the first sort are all spiritual graces required in us, as the 
indispensable conditions of our salvation : such as are repentance, 
faith, hope, charity, temperance, and all other virtues, that are 
either the parts or principles of a pious life. These are to be the 
prime subject-matter of our prayers ; and we shall find, that 
nothing comes this way so easily ,from heaven, as those things 
that will assuredly bring us to it. The Spirit dictates all such 
petitions, and God himself is first the author, and then the ful- 
filler of them ; owning and accepting them, both as ovir duty 
and his own production. The other sort of things that may 
allowably be prayed for, are things of manifest, unquestionable 
charity : such as are a competent measure of the innocent com- 
forts of life, as health, peace, maintenance, and a success of our 
honest labours : and yet even these but conditionally, and with 
perfect resignation to the will and wisdom of the sovereign dis- 
poser of all that belongs to us ; who (if he finds it more for his 
honour to have us serve liim with sick, crazy, languishing bodies, 
with poverty, and extreme want of all tilings ; and lastly, with 
our country all in a flame about our ears) ought in all this, and 
much more to overrule our prayers and desires into an absolute 
acquiescence in his all-wise disposal of things ; and to convince 
us, that our prayers are sometimes best answered, when our 
desires are most opposed. 

In fine, to state the whole matter of our prayers in one word ; 
nothing can be fit for us to pray for, but what is fit and honour- 
able for our great Mediator and Master of requests, Jesus Christ 
himself, to intercede for. This is to be the unchangeable rule 
and measure of all our petitions. And then, if Christ is to con- 


vey these our petitions to his Father, can any one dare to make 
him, who was holiness and purity itself, an advocate and solicitor 
for liis lusts ? Him, who was nothing but meekness, and lowliness, 
and hvimility, his providetore for such things as can only feed liis 
pride, and flush his ambition ? No, certainly ; when we come as 
supphants to the throne of grace, where Christ sits as intercessor 
at God's right hand, nothing can be fit to proceed out of our 
mouth, but Avhat is fit to pass through liis. 

3. The third and last thing that calls for a previous medita- 
tion to our prayers, is the order and disposition of them. For 
though God does not command us to set off our prayers with 
dress and artifice, to flourish it in trope and metaphor, to beg our 
daily bread in blank verse, or to show any thing of the poet in 
oiu' devotions, but indigence and want ; I say, though God is far 
from requiring such things of us in our prayers, yet he requires 
that we should manage them Avith sense and reason. Fineness is 
not expected, but decency is ; and though we cannot declaim as 
orators, yet he wiU have us speak like men, and tender him the 
results of that understanding and judgment, that essentially con- 
stitute a rational nature. 

But I shall briefly cast Avhat I have to say upon this particular 
into these following assertions : 

1. That nothing can express our reverence to God in prayer, 
that would pass for irreverence towards a great man. Let any 
subject tender his prince a petition fraught with nonsense and 
incoherence, confusion and impertinence ; and can he expect that 
majesty should answer it with any thing but a deaf ear, a frown- 
ing eye, or at best, vouchsafe it any other reward, but by a 
gracious oblivion to forgive the person, and forget the petition ? 

2. Nothing absurd and irrational, and such as a wise man 
would despise, can be acceptable to God in prayer. Solomon 
expressly tells us in Eccles. v. 4, that " God has no pleasure in 
fools ;" nor is it possible that an infinite wisdom should. The 
scripture all along expresses sin and wickedness by the name of 
folly : and therefore, certainly folly is too near akin to it, to find 
any approbation from God in so great a duty. It is the sim- 
plicity of the heart, and not of the head, that is the best inditer 
of our petitions. That which proceeds from the latter is un- 
doubtedly the sacrifice of fools ; and God is never more weary 
of sacrifice, than when a fool is the priest, and folly the oblation. 

3. And lastly. Nothing rude, slight, and careless, or indeed 
less than the very best that a man can offer, can be acceptable or 
pleasing to God in prayer. "If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is 
it not evil? If ye offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil? 
Offer it now to thy governor, and see whether he will be pleased 
with thee, or accept thy person, saith the Lord of hosts," Mai. i. 
8. God rigidly expects a return of his own gifts ; and where he 
has given ability, will be served by acts proportionable to it: 

250 DB. SOUTh's sermons. [^SERM. XV. 

and he who has parts to raise and propagate his own honour by, 
but none to employ in the worship of liini that gave them, does, 
as I may so express it, refuse to wear God's livery in his own 
service, adds sacrilege to profaneness, strips and starves his devo- 
tions, and, in a word, falls directly under the dint of that curse, 
denounced in the last verse of the first of Malachi, " Cursed be 
the deceiver that hath in his flock a male, and voweth and sacri- 
ficeth to the Lord a corrupt thing." The same is here both the 
deceiver and the deceived too ; for God very well knows what he 
gives men, and why ; and where he has bestowed judgment, 
learning, and utterance, will not endure that men should be accu- 
rate in their discourse, and loose in their devotions; or think, 
that the great Author of "every good and perfect gift" will be 
put off with ramble and confused talk, babble, and tautology. 

And thus much for the order and disposition of our prayers, 
which certainly requires precedent thought and meditation. God 
has declared himself the God of order in all tilings ; and will 
have it observed in what he commands others, as well as in what 
he does himself. Order is the great rule or art by which God 
made the world, and by which he still governs it : nay, the world 
itself is nothing else ; and all this glorious system of things is but 
chaos put into order. And how then can God, who has so emi- 
nently owned himself concerned for this excellent thing, brook 
such absurdity and confusion, as the slovenly and profane negli- 
gence some treat him with, in their most solemn addresses to him? 
All which is the natural, unavoidable consequent of unprepared- 
ness, and want of premeditation ; without which, whosoever pre- 
sumes to pray, cannot be so properly said to approach to, as to 
break in upon God. And surely, he who is so hardy as to do 
so, has no reason in the earth to expect that the success which 
foUows his prayers, should be greater than the preparation that 
goes beforcthem. 

Now from what has been hitherto discoursed of this first and 
grand quahfication of a pious and devout prayer, to wit, preme- 
ditation of thought, what can be so naturally and so usefully in- 
ferred, as the high expediency, or rather the absolute necessity of 
a set form of prayer, to guide our devotions by ? We have lived 
in an age that has despised, contradicted, and counteracted all the 
principles and practices of the primitive Christians, in taking the 
measures of their duty both to God and man, and of their behaviour 
both in matters civil and rehgious ; but in nothing more scanda- 
lously, than in their vile abuse of the great duty of prayer ; con- 
cerning which, though it may with the clearest truth be affirmed, 
that there has been no church yet of any account in the Christian 
world, but what has governed its pubhc worship of God by a 
hturgy or set form of prayer ; yet these enthusiastic innovators, 
the bold and blind reformers of all antiquity, and wiser than the 
whole catholic church besides, introduced into the room of it a 



saucy, senseless, extemporary Avay of speaking to God ; affirming 
that this was a praying by the Spirit ; and that the use of all set 
forms was stinting of the Spirit. A pretence, I confess, popular 
and plausible enough with such idiots, as take the sound of words 
for the sense of them. But, for the full confiitation of it, which, 
I hope, shall be done both easily and briefly too, I shall advance 
this one assertion in direct contradiction to that ; namely. 

That the praying by a set form is not a stinting of the Spirit, 
and the praying extemporary truly and properly is so. 

For the proving and making out of which, we wiU first consider, 
what it is to pray by the Spirit : a tiling much talked of, but 
not so convenient for the talkers of it, and pretenders to it, to 
have it rightly stated and understood. In short, it includes in it 
these two things : 

1. A praying with the heai't, which is sometimes called the 
spirit, or inwai'd man ; and so it is properly opposed to hypocri- 
tical lip-devotions, in which the heart or spirit does not go along 

, with a man's words. 

2. It includes in it also a praying according to the rules pre- 
scribed by God's holy Spirit, and held forth to us in his revealed 
word, which word was both dictated and confirmed by this Spirit ; 
and so it is opposed to the praying unlawfully or unwarrantably ; 
and that either in respect of the matter or manner of our prayers : 
as when we desire of God such things, or in such a way, as the 
Spirit of God, speaking in his holy word, does by no means 
warrant or approve of. So that to pray by the Spirit, signifies 
neither more nor less, but to j)ray knowingly, heartily, and 
aflfectionately for such tilings, and in such a manner, as the Holy 
Ghost in scripture either commands or allows of. As for any 
other kind of praying by the Spu'it, upon the best inquiry that I 
can make into these matters, I can find none. And if some say 
(as I knoAV they both impudently and blasphemously do) that to 
pray by the Spirit, is to have the Spirit immediately inspiring 
them, and by such inspiration speaking within them, and so dic- 
tating their prayers to them, let them either produce plain scrip- 
ture, or do a miracle to prove this by. But till then, he who 
shall consider what kind of prayers these pretenders to the Spirit 
have been notable for, will find, that they have as little cause to 
father their prayers, as their practices, upon the Spirit of God. 

These two things are certain, and I do particularly recommend 
them to your observation. One, that this way of praying by the 
Spirit, as they call it, was begun and first brought into use here 
in England, in queen Elizabeth's days, by a popish priest and 
Dominican friar, one Faitliful Commin by name ; who, counter- 
feiting himself a protestant, and a zealot of the highest form, set 
up this new spiritual way of praying, with a design to bring the 
people first to a contempt, and from thence to an utter hatred 
and disuse of our common prayer, which he still reviled as only a 


translation of the mass, thereby to distract men's minds, and to 
divide our church. And this he did Avith such success, that we 
have lived to see the effects of his labours in the utter subversion 
of church and state. Which hellish negotiation, Avhen this 
malicious hypocrite caiue to Rome to give the pope an account 
of, he received of him, as so notable a service well deserved, 
besides a thousand thanks, two thousand ducats for his pains. 
So that now you see here the original of this extemjjorary way 
of praying by the Spirit. The other thing that I woidd observe 
to you, is, that in the neighbour nation of Scotland, one of the 
greatest monsters * of men that I believe ever lived, and actually 
in league with the devil, was yet, by the confession of all that 
heard him, the luost excellent at this extemj^orary way of pray- 
ing by the Spirit of any man in his time ; none was able to come 
near him, or to compare with him. But surely now, he who 
shall venture to ascribe the prayers of such a wretch, made up of 
adulteries, incest, witchcraft, and other villanies, not to be named, 
to the Spii'it of God, may as well strike in with the Pharisees, 
and ascribe the miracles of Christ to the devil. And thus havino; 
shown both what ought to be meant by praying by the Spirit, 
and what ought not, cannot be meant by it ; let us now see 
whether a set form, or this extemporary Avay, be the greater hin- 
derer and stinter of it: in order to which, I shall lay down these 
three assertions. 

1. That the soul or mind of man is but of a limited nature in 
all its workings, and consequently cannot supply two distinct 
faculties at the same time, to the same height of operation. 

2. That the finding words and expressions for prayer, is the 
proper business of the brain and the invention ; and that the 
finding devotion and affection to accompany and go along with 
those expressions, is properly the work and business of the heart. 

3. That this devotion and affection is indispensably required in 
prayer, as the principal and most essential part of it, and that in 
which the spirituality of it does most properly consist. 

Now from these three things put together, this must naturally 
and necessarily follow ; that as spiritual prayer, or praying by 
the Spirit, taken in the right sense of the word, consists jjroperly 
in that affection and devotion, that the heart exercises and em- 
ploys in the work of prayer : so, whatsoever gives the soid scope 
and liberty to exercise and employ this affection and devotion, 
that does most effectually help and enlarge the spirit of prayer ; 
and whatsoever diverts the soul from employing such affection 
and devotion, that does most directly stint and hinder it. Accord- 
ingly let this now be our rule whereby to judge of the efficacy 
of a set form, and of the extemporary way in the present business. 
As for a set form, in which the words are ready prepared to our 
hands, the soul has notliing to do, but to attend to the work of 
* Major John Weyer. See Ravaillac Rediviv. 


raising the affections and devotions to go along with those words : 
so that all the powers of the soul are taken up in applying the 
heart to this great duty ; and it is the exercise of the heart, as 
has been already shown, that is truly and properly a praying by 
the Spirit. On the contrary, in all extemporary prayer, the 
powers and faculties of the soul are called off from dealing with 
the heai't and the affections ; and that both in the speaker and in 
the hearer ; both in him who makes, and in him who is to join in 
such prayers. 

And first for the minister, who makes and utters such extempo- 
rary prayers. He is wholly employing his invention, both to con- 
ceive matter, and find words and expressions to clothe it in. This 
is certainly the work wliich takes up his mind in this exercise : and 
since the nature of man's mind is such, that it cannot with the 
same vigour, at the same time, attend the work of invention, and 
that of raising the affections also; nor measure out the same 
supply of spirits and intention for the carrying on the operations 
of the head, and those of the heart too : it is certain, that while 
the head is so much employed, the heart must be idle, and very 
little employed ; and perhaps not at all : and consequently, if to 
pray by the spirit be to pray with the heart and the affections ; it 
is also as certain, that wliile a man prays extempore, he does 
not pray by the spirit : nay, the very truth of it is, that while he 
is so doing, he is not praying at all, but he is studying, he is 
beating his brain, while he should be drawing out his affections. 

And then for the people that are to hear, and join with him in 
such prayers ; it is manifest, that they, not knowing beforehand 
what the minister will say, must, as soon as they do hear him, 
presently busy and bestir their minds, both to apprehend and 
understand the meaning of what they hear ; and withal, to judge 
whether it be of such a nature, as to be fit for them to join and 
concur with him in. So that the people also are, by this course, 
put to study, and to employ their apprehending and judging 
faculties, while they should be exerting their affections and devo- 
tions ; and consequently by this means the spirit of prayer is 
stinted, as well in the congregation that follows, as in the minister, 
who first conceives a prayer after their extemporary way : which 
is a truth so clear, and indeed self-evident, that it is impossible 
that it should need any further arguments to demonstrate or make 
it out. 

The sum of all is this ; that since a set form of prayer leaves 
the soul wholly free to employ its affections and devotions, in 
which the spirit of pi'ayer does most properly consist ; it follows, 
that the spirit of prayer is thereby, in a singular manner, helped, 
promoted, and enlarged : and since, on the other hand, the extem- 
porary way withdraws and takes off the soul from employing its 
affections, and engages it chiefly, if not wholly, about the use of 
its invention ; it as plainly follows, that the spirit of prayer is, by 


this means, unavoidably crami^ed and hindered, and, to use their 
own word, stinted ; which was the proposition that I undertook 
to prove. But there are two things, I confess, that are extremely 
hindered and stinted by a set form of prayer, and equally 
furthered and enlarged by the extemporary way ; wliich, with- 
out all doubt, is the true cause why the former is so much decried, 
and the latter so much extolled by the men whom we are now 
pleading with. The first of which is pride and ostentation ; the 
other faction and sedition. 

1. And first for pride. I do not in the least question, but 
the chief design of such as use the extemporary way, is to amuse 
the unthinking rabble with an admiration of their gifts ; their 
whole devotion proceeding from no other principle, but only a love 
to hear themselves' talk. And I believe it would put Lucifer 
himself hard to it to outvie the pride of one of those fellows 
pouring out his extemporary stuff* amongst his ignorant, whining, 
factious followers, listening to and applauding his copious flow 
and cant, with the ridiculous accents of their impertinent groans. 
And the truth is, extemporary prayer, even when best and most 
dexterously performed, is nothing else but a business of inven- 
tion and wit, such as it is, and requires no more to it, but a 
teeming imagination, a bold front, and a ready expression ; and 
deserves much the same commendation (were it not in a matter 
too serious to be sudden upon) which is due to extemporary 
verses : only with tliis difference, that there is necessary to these 
latter, a competent measure of wit and learning ; whereas the 
former may be done with very little wit, and no learning at all. 

And now, can any sober person think it reasonable, that the 
public devotions of a whole congregation should be under the 
conduct, and at the mercy of a pert, empty, conceited holder- 
forth, whose chief, if not sole, intent is to vaunt his spuitual 
clack, and, as I may so speak, to pray prizes ; whereas prayer is 
a duty, that recommends itself to the acceptance of almighty 
God, by no other qualification so much, as by the profoundest 
humility, and the lowest esteem that a man can possibly have of 
himself ? 

Certainly the extemporizing faculty is never more out of its 
element, than in the pulpit : though even here, it is much more 
excusable in a sermon, than in a prayer ; forasmuch as in that, 
a man addresses himself but to men ; men like himself, whom he 
may therefore make bold with ; as, no doubt, for so doing, they 
will also make bold with liim. Besides the peculiar advantage 
attending all such sudden conceptions, that as they are quickly 
born, so they quickly die : it being seldom known, where the 
speaker has so very fluent an invention, but the hearer also has 
the gift of as fluent a memory. 

2. The other thing that has been liitherto so little befriended 
by a set form of prayer, and so very much by the extemporary 


way, is faction and sedition. It has been always found an excel- 
lent way of girding at the government in scripture phrase. And 
we all know the common dialect, in which the great masters of 
this art used to pray for the king, and which may justly pass for 
only a cleanlier and more refined kind of libelling him in the 
Lord. • As, " That God will turn his heart, and open his eyes :" 
as if he were a pagan, yet to be converted to Christianity ; with 
many other sly, virulent, and malicious insinuations, which we 
may every day hear of from those mints of treason and rebellion, 
their conventicles ; and for Avhich, and a great deal less, some 
princes and governments would make them not only eat their 
words, but the tongue that spoke them too. In fine, let all their 
extemporary hai-angvies be considered and duly weighed, and you 
shall find a spirit of pride, faction, and sedition, predominant in 
them all : the only spirit which those impostors do really and 
indeed pray by. 

I have been so much the longer and the earnester against this 
intoxicating, bewitcliing cheat of extemporary prayer, being fully 
satisfied in my conscience, that it has been all along the devil's 
masterpiece and prime engine to overthrow our church by. For 
I look upon this as a most unanswerable truth, that whosoever 
renders the public worship of God contemptible amongst us, 
must in the same degree weaken and discredit our whole religion. 
And, I hope, I have also proved it to be a truth altogether as 
clear, that this extemporary way naturally brings all the con- 
tempt upon the worship of God, that both the folly and faction 
of men can possibly expose it to. And therefore as a thing 
neither subservient to the true purposes of religion, nor gi^ounded 
upon principles of reason, nor lastly, suitable to the practice of 
antiquity, ought by all means to be exploded and cast out of 
every sober and well ordered church ; or that will be sure to 
throw the cluu'ch itself out of doors. 

And thus I have at length finished Avhat I had to say of the 
first ingredient of a pious and reverential prayer, which was 
premeditation of thought ; prescribed to us in these words, " Let 
not thy mouth be rash, nor thy heart be hasty to utter any thing 
before God." Which excellent words, and most wise advice of 
Solomon, whosoever can reconcile to the expediency, decency, or 
usefulness of extemporary prayer, I shall acknowledge him a man 
of greater ability and parts of mind than Solomon himself. 

The other ingredient of a reverential and duly cj[ualified prayer, 
is a pertinent brevity of expression, mentioned and recommended in 
that part of the text, " Therefore let thy words be few." But 
this I cannot dispatch now, and therefore shall not enter upon it 
at tliis time. 

Now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy 
Ghost, three persons and one God, be rendered and ascribed, as 
is most due, all praise, might, majesty, and dominion, both now 
and for evermore. Amen. 





JBe not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter 
any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon 
earth : therefore let thy tvords be feio. 

I FORMERLY began a discourse upon these words, and ob- 
served in them these three things. 

1. That whosoever appears in the house of God, and particu- 
larly in the way of prayer, ought to reckon himself, in a more 
especial manner, placed in the sight and presence of God. And, 

2. That the vast and infinite distance between God and him, 
ought to create in him all imaginable awe and reverence in such 
his addresses to God. 

3. And lastly. That this reverence required of him, is to con- 
sist in a serious prej^aration of his thoughts, and a sober govern- 
ment of his expressions : neither is his " mouth to be rash, nor 
his heart to be hasty in uttering any tiling before God." 

These three things I showed were evidently contained in the 
words, and did as evidently contain the whole sense of them. 
But I gathered them all into this one proposition ; namely. 

That premeditation of thought, and brevity of expression, are 
the great ingredients of that reverence that is required to a pious, 
acceptable, and devout prayer. 

The first of these, which is premeditation of thought, I then 
fully treated of, and despatched ; and shall now proceed to the 
other, which is a pertinent brevity of expressio?i : " Therefore let 
thy words be few." 

Concerning which we shall observe, first in general, that to be 
able to express our minds briefly and fully too, is absolutely the 
greatest perfection and commendation that speech is capable of; 
such a mutual communication of our thoughts being, as I may so 
speak, the next approach to intuition : and the nearest imitation 
of the converse of blessed spirits made perfect, that our condition 
in this world can possibly raise us to. Certainly the greatest and 
the wisest conceptions that ever issued from the mind of man, 
have been couched under, and delivered in a few, close, home, and 
significant words. 

But, to derive the credit of this way of speaking much higher, 
and from an example infinitely greater, than the greatest human 
wisdom, was it not authorized and ennobled by God himself in 


his making of the world ? Was not the work of all the six days 
transacted in so many words? There was no circumlocution, or 
amplification in the case, Avhich makes the rhetorician Longi- 
nus, in liis book of the Loftiness of Speech, so much admire the 
height and grandeur of Moses' style in his first chapter of Genesis, 
'O Twv 'lovSaiwv ^tafio^iTi]g, ov-)(^ 6 tv\wv avtip' " The law- 
giver of the Jews," says he, meaning Moses, " was no ordinary 
man ;" lirei^i) rriv rov Qeov Evvainiv Kara rrjv 'a^iav lyvtopiae 
Ka^i^yvev, " because," says he, " he set forth the divine power 
suitably to the majesty and greatness of it." But how did he 
this ? Why, ev^itg Iv tj? €tcr€oX?J ypaipag rwv vofiwv, uirev 6 
Qeog, 0r)<Ti, ti', yeviaOo) 4>Mg, koX lyivero' yeviaOio yrj, koX iyi- 
viTo, &c. "For that," says he, "in the very entrance of his 
laws, he gives us this short and pleasant account of the whole 
creation : ' God said. Let there be light, and there was light ; 
Let there be an earth, a sea, and a firmament, and there was so.' " 
So that all tliis high elogy and encomium given by this heathen 
of Moses, sprang only from the majestic brevity of this one ex- 
pression : an expression so suited to the greatness of a Creator, 
and so expressive of his boundless creative power, as a power 
infinitely above all control or possibihty of finding the least ob- 
stacle ^or delay in achieving its mightiest and most stupendous 
works. Heaven, and earth, and all the host of both, as it were, 
dropped from his mouth ; and nature itself was but the product 
of a word ; a word not designed to express, but to constitute and 
give a being ; and not so much the representation, as the cause, 
of what it signified. 

This was God's way of speaking in his first forming of the 
universe. And was it not so, in the next grand instance of his 
power, his governing of it too ? For are not the great instruments 
of government, his laws, drawn up and digested into a few sen- 
tences ; the whole body of them containing but ten command- 
ments, and some of those commandments not so many words? 
Nay, and have we not these also brought into yet a narrower 
compass by him, who best understood them ? " Thou shalt love 
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and 
thy neighbour as thyself:" precepts, nothing like the tedious, 
endless, confused trash of human laws ; laws so numerous, that 
they not only exceed men's practice, but also surpass their arith- 
metic; and so voluminous, that no mortal head, nor shoulders 
neither, must ever pretend themselves able to bear them. In 
God's laws the words are few, the sense vast and infinite. In 
human laws, you shall be sure to have words enough ; but, for 
the most part, to discern the sense and reason of them, you had 
need read them with a microscope. 

And thus having shown how the Almighty utters himself 
when he speaks, and that upon the greatest occasions ; let us now 
descend from heaven to earth, from God to man, and show, that 

VOL. I. s 


it is no presumption for us to conform our words, as well as our 
actions, to the supreme pattern, and, according to our poor mea- 
sures, to imitate the wisdom that we adore. And for this, has it 
not been noted by the best observers and the ablest judges both 
of things and persons, that the wisdom of any people or nation has 
been most seen in the proverbs and short sayings commonly re- 
ceived amongst them ? And what is a proverb, but the experience 
and observation of several ages, gathered and summed up into 
one expression ? The scripture vouches Solomon for the wisest 
of men, and they are his Proverbs that prove him so. The seven 
wise men of Greece, so famous for their wisdom all the woi'ld over, 
acquired all that fame, each of them by a single sentence, con- 
sisting of two or three words. And yvio^t atavTov still lives 
and flourishes in the mouths of all, while many vast volumes are 
extinct, and sunk into dust and utter oblivion. And then for 
books, we shall generally find that the most excellent, in any art 
or science, have been still the smallest and most compendious: 
and this not without ground ; for it is an argument that the au- 
thor was a master of what he wrote ; and had a clear notion, and 
a full comprehension of the subject before him. For the reason 
of things lies in a little compass, if the mind could at any time be 
so happy as to light upon it. JMost of the writings and discourses 
in the world are but illvistration and rhetoric, which signifies as 
much as nothing to a mind eager in pursuit after the causes and 
philosopliical truth of things. It is the work of fancy to enlarge, 
but of judgment to shorten and contract ; and therefore this must 
needs be as far above the other, as judgment is a greater and a 
nobler faculty than fancy or imagination. All philosophy is re- 
duced to a few principles, and those principles comprised in a few 
propositions. And as the whole structure of speculation rests 
upon three or foiu' axioms or maxims ; so that of practice also 
bears upon a very small number of rules. And siu'ely, there was 
never yet any rule or maxim that filled a vokime, or took up a 
week's time to be got by heart. No ; these are the apices reriim, 
the tops and sums, the very spirit and life of things extracted and 
abridged; just as all the lines drawn from the vastest circmn- 
ference, do at length meet and unite in the smallest of things, a 
point ; and it is but a very little piece of wood, with which a 
true artist will measure all the timber in the world. The 
truth is, there could be no such thing as art or science, could not 
the mind of man gather the general natures of things out of the 
numberless heap of particulars, and then bind them up into such 
short aphorisms or propositions ; that so they may be made portable 
to the memory, and thereby become ready and at hand for the 
judgment to apjily, and make use of, as there shall be occasion. 

In fine, brevity and succinctness of speech is that which, in 
philosophy or speculation, we call maxim, and first principle ; in 
the counsels and resolves of practical wisdom, and the deep 


mysteries of religion, oracle ; and lastly, in matters of wit, and 
the finenesses of imagination, epigram. All of them, severally 
and in their kinds, the greatest and the noblest things that the 
mind of man can show the force and dexterity of its faculties in. 

And now, if this be the highest excellency and perfection of 
speech in all other things, can we assign any true, solid reason, 
Avhy it should not be so likewise in prayer ? Nay, is there not 
rather the clearest reason imaginable, why it should be much 
more so ; since most of the forementioned things are but 
addresses to a hmnan understanding, which may need as many 
words as may fiU a volume, to make it understand the truth of 
one line ? Whereas prayer is an address to that eternal mind, 
which (as we have shown before) such as rationally invocate, 
pretend not to inform. Nevertheless, since the nature of man is 
such, that while we are yet in the body, our reverence and wor- 
ship of God must of necessity proceed in some analogy to the 
reverence that we show to the grandees of this world, we will 
here see, what the judgment of all wise men is, concerning few- 
ness of words, when we apjDcar as suppliants before our earthly 
superiors ; and we shall find, that they generally allow it to im- 
port these three things: 1. Modesty; 2. Discretion; and 3. 
Height of respect to the person addressed to. And first, for 
modesty. Modesty is a kind of shame or bashfulness, proceeding 
from the sense a man has of his own defects, compared with the 
perfections of him whom he comes before. And that which is 
modesty towards men, is worsliip and devotion towards God. It 
is a virtue that makes a man unwilling to be seen, and fearful to 
be heard ; and yet, for that very cause, never fails to make liim 
both seen with favour, and heard with attention. It loves not 
many words, nor indeed needs them. For modesty addressing to 
any one of a generous worth and honour, is sure to have that 
man's honour for its advocate, and his generosity for its inter- 
cessor. And how then is it possible for such a virtue to run out 
into words ? Loquacity storms the ear, but modesty takes the 
heart ; that is troublesome, this gentle, but irresistible. Much 
speaking is always the effect of confidence ; and confidence still 
presupposes, and springs from the persuasion that a man has of 
his own worth ; both of them certainly very unfit qualifications 
for a petitioner. 

2. The second thing that naturally shows itself in j^aucity of 
words, is discretion ; and particularly, that prime and eminent 
part of it, that consists in a care of offending : which Solomon 
assures us, that in much speaking, it is hardly possible for us to 
avoid. In Pro v. x. 19, "In the multitude of words," says he, 
"there wanteth not sin." It requiring no ordinary skill for a 
man to make his tongue run by rule ; and at the same time, to 
give it both its lesson and its liberty too. For seldom or never 
is there much spoken, but something or other had better been 

s 2 

260 DR. SOUTH's sermons. l^SERM. XVI. 

not spoken ; there being notlilng that the mind of man is so apt 
to kindle, and take distaste at, as at words. And therefore, when- 
soever any one comes to prefer a suit to another, no doubt, the 
fewer of them the better ; since, Avhere so very Httle is said, it is 
sure to be either candidly accepted, or, which is next, easily 
excused. But, at the same time, to petition, and to provoke too, 
is certainly very prepostei'ous. 

3. The third thing that brevity of speech commends itself by 
in all petitionary addresses, is a peculiar respect to the person 
addressed to : for whosoever petitions his superior in such a 
manner does, by his very so doing, confess him better able to 
understand, than he liimself can be to express his oavu case. He 
owns him as a patron of a preventing judgment and goodness, 
and, upon that account, able, not only to answer, but also to 
anticipate his requests. For, according to the most natural 
interpretation of tilings, this is to ascribe to him a sagacity so 
quick and piercing, that it were presumption to inform ; and a 
benignity so great, that it were needless to importune him. And 
can there be a greater and more winning deference to a superior, 
than to treat him under such a character ? Or can any thing be 
imagined so naturally fit and efficacious, both to enforce the 
petition, and to endear the petitioner? A short petition to a 
great man, is not only a suit to him for liis favour, but also 
a panegyric upon his parts. 

And thus I have given you the three commendatory quahfica- 
tions of brevity of speech, in our applications to the great ones 
of the world. Concerning which, as I showed before, that it was 
impossible for us to form our addresses, even to God himself, but 
with some proportion and resemblance to those that we make to 
our fellow mortals in a condition much above us ; so it is cer- 
tain, that whatsoever the general judgment and consent of man- 
kind allows to be expressive and declarative of our honour to 
those, must (only with due allowance of the difference of the object) 
as really and properly declare and signify that honour and adora- 
tion that is due from us to the great God. And consequently, 
what we have said for brevity of speech, with respect to the for- 
mer, ought equally to conclude for it with relation to him too. 

But to argue more immediately and directly to the point 
before us ; I shall now produce five arguments, enforcing brevity, 
and casliiering all prolixity of speech, with peculiar reference to 
our addresses to God. 

1. And the first argument shall be taken from this considera- 
tion : That there is no reason allegeable for the use of length or 
prolixity of speech, that is at all applicable to prayer. For who- 
soever uses multiplicity of words, or length of discourse, must of 
necessity do it for one of these three jourposes ; either to inform, 
or persuade ; or lastly, to weary and overcome the person whom 
he directs his discourse to. But the very first foundation of 


"what I had to say upon this subject was laid by me, in demon- 
strating that prayer could not possibly prevail with God any of 
these tlnree ways. Forasmuch as being omniscient, he could not 
be informed ; and being void of passion, or affections, he could 
not be persuaded; and lastly,, being omnipotent and infinitely 
great, he could not, by any importunity, be wearied or overcome. 
And if so, what use then can there be of rhetoric, harangue, or 
multitude of words in prayer ? For, if they should be designed 
for information, must it not be infinitely sottish and unreason- 
able to go about to inform him, who can be ignorant of notliing ? 
Or to persuade him, whose unchangeable nature makes it impos- 
sible for him to be moved or wrought upon ? Or, lastly, by long 
and much speaking, to tliink to Aveary him out, whose infinite 
power all the strength of men and angels, and the whole world 
put together, is not able to encounter or stand before ? So that 
the truth is, by loquacity and prolixity of prayer, a man does 
really and indeed, Avhether he thinks so or no, rob God of the 
honour of those three great attributes, and neither treats him as 
a person omniscient, or unchangeable, or omnipotent. For, on 
the other side, all the usefulness of long speech in human con- 
verse, is founded only upon the defects and imperfections of 
human nature. For he whose knowledge is at best but limited, 
and whose intellect, both in apprehending and judging, proceeds 
by a small diminutive light, cannot but receive an additional 
light by the conceptions of another man, clearly and plainly ex- 
pressed, and by such exj)ression conveyed to his apprehension. 
And he again, whose nature subjects him to want and weakness, 
and consequently to hopes and fears, cannot but be moved this 
way or that way, according as objects suitable to those passions, 
shall be dexterously represented and set before his imagination, 
by the arts of speaking ; which is that that we cix)^. persuasion. And 
lastly, he whose soul and body receive their activity from, and 
perform all their functions by, the mediation of the spirits, 
which ebb and flow, consume, and are renewed again, cannot but 
find himself very uneasy upon any tedious, verbose application 
made to Mm : and that sometimes to such a degree, that through 
mere fatigue, and even against judgment and interest both, a 
man shall surrender himself, as a conquered person, to the over- 
bearing vehemence of such solicitations. For when they ply him 
so fast, and pour in upon him so thick, they cannot but wear and 
waste the spirits, as unequal to so pertinacious a charge ; and this 
is properly to weary a man. But now all weariness, we knovv', 
presupposes weakness ; and consequently every long, importu- 
nate, wearisome petition is truly and properly a force upon him 
that is pursued with it ; it is a following blow after blow upon 
the mind and affections, and may, for the time, pass for real, 
though short persecution. 

This is the state and condition of human nature ; and prolixity 


or importunity of speech is still the great engine to attack it by, 
either in its blind or weak side. And I think I may venture to 
affirm^ that it is seldom that any man is prevailed upon by words, 
but, upon a true and philosophical estimate of the whole matter, 
he is either deceived or Avearied before he is so, and parts with 
the thing desired of him ujDon the very same terms that either 
a child parts with a jewel for an apple, or a man parts with liis 
sword when it is forcibly wrested or taken from him. And that 
he who obtains what he has been rhetorically or importunately 
begging for, goes away really a conqueror, and triumphantly 
carrying off the spoils of his neighbour's understanding, or liis 
Avill ; baffling the former, or wearying the latter, into a grant of 
his restless petitions. 

And now, if this be the case, when any one comes with a 
tedious, long-winded harangue to God, may not God properly 
answer him with those words in Psalm 1. 21, " Surely thou 
thinkest 1 am altogether such a one as thyself?" And perhaps, 
ujjon a due and rational examination of all the folKes and inde- 
cencies that men are apt to be guilty of in prayer, they will 
be all found resolvable into this one thing, as the true and 
sole cause of them ; namely, that men, when they pray, take 
God to be such a one as themselves ; and so treat him accord- 
ingly : the malignity and mischief of which gross mistake may 
reach further than possibly at first they can well be aware of. 
For if it be idolatry to pray to God the Father, represented 
under the shape of a man, can it be at all better to pray to him 
as represented under the weakness of a man ? Nay, if the mis- 
representation of the object makes the idolatry, certainly by how 
much the worse and more scandalous the misrepresentation is, by 
so much the grosser and more intolerable must be the idolatry. 
To confirm which, we may add this consideration, that Christ 
himself, even now in his glorified estate in heaven, wears the 
body, and consequently the shape of a man, though he is far 
from any of liis infirmities or imperfections: and therefore, no 
doubt, to represent God to ourselves under these latter, must 
needs be more absurd and irreligious, than to represent him 
under the former. But to one particular of the preceding dis- 
course some may reply and object; that if God's omniscience, 
by rendering it impossible for him to be informed, be a sufficient 
reason against prolixity or length of prayer ; it will follow, that 
it is equally a reason against the using any words at all in prayer, 
since the proper use of words is to inform the person whom we 
speak to ; and consequently, where information is impossible, 
words must needs be useless and supei'fluous. 

To which I answer, first by concession, that if the sole use of 
words, or speech, were to infonn the person whom we speak to, 
the consequence would be firm and good, and equally conclude 
against the use of any words at all in prayer. But therefore. 


in the second place, I deny information to be the sole and ade- 
qiTate use of words or speech, or indeed any use of them at all, 
when either the person spoken to needs not to be informed, and 
withal is known not to need it, as sometimes it falls out with men; 
or Avhen he is incapable of being informed, as it is a,lways with 
God. But the proper use of words, whensoever we speak to 
God in i)rayer, is thereby to pay him honour and obedience. 
God having by an express precept, enjoined us the use of words 
in prayer, commanding us in Psalm 1. 15, and many other scrip- 
tures, "to call upon him:" and in Luke xi. 21, "when we pray, 
to say. Our Father," &c. But no where has he commanded us 
to do this with prolixity or multiplicity of words. And though 
it must be confessed, that we may sometimes answer this com- 
mand of calling upon God, and saying, " Our Father," &c., by 
mental or inward prayer ; yet since these words, in their first and 
most proper signification, import a vocal address, there is no doubt, 
but the direct design of the command is to enjoin this also, 
wheresoever there is ability and power to perform it. So that 
we see here the necessity of vocal prayer, founded vipon the 
authority of a divine precept ; whereas, for long prolix prayer, 
no such precept can be produced ; and consequently, the divine 
omniscience may be a sufficient reason against multiplicity of 
words in prayer, and yet conclude nothing simply or absolutely 
against the bare use of them. Nevertheless, that we may not 
seem to allege bare command, unseconded by reason (which yet, 
in the divine commands, it is impossible to do), there is tliis great 
reason for, and use of words in prayer, without the least pretence 
of informing the person whom we pray to ; and that is, to 
acknowledge and own those Avants before God, that we suppli- 
cate for a relief of. It being very proper and rational to own 
and acknowledge a thing even to him who knew it before : for- 
asmuch as this is so far from offering to communicate or make 
known to him the thing so acknowledged, that it rather pre- 
supposes in him an antecedent knowledge of it, and comes in 
only as a subsequent assent and subscription to the reality and 
truth of such a knowledge. For to acknowledge a thing in the 
first sense of the word, does by no means signify a design of 
notifying that thing to another, but is truly and jjroperly a man's 
passing sentence upon himself and his own condition: there 
being no reason in tlie woi-ld for a man to expect that God should 
relieve and supply those wants that he himself will not own or 
take notice of ; any more than for a man to hope for a pardon of 
those sins that he cannot find in his heart to confess. And yet, 
I suppose, no man in his right senses does or can imagine, that 
God is informed or brought to the knowledge of those sins by 
any such confession. 

And so much for the clearing of this objection ; and, in the 
the whole, for the first argument produced by us for brevity, 


and against prolixity of prayer; namely, That all the reasons 
that can be assigned for prolixity of speech in our converse with 
men cease, and become no reasons for it at all, when we are to 
speak or pray to God. 

2. The second argument for paucity of words in prayer, shall 
be taken from the paucity of those tilings that are necessary to 
be prayed for. And surely, where few things are necessary, few 
words should be sufficient ; for where the matter is not commen- 
surate to the words, all speaking is but tautology ; that being really 
and truly tautology, where the same thing is repeated, though 
under never so much variety of expression ; as it is but the man 
still, though he appears every day or every hour in a new and 
different suit of clothes. 

The adequate subject of our prayers, I showed at first, com- 
prehended in it things of necessity, and things of charity. As to 
the first of which, I know nothing absolutely necessary, but 
grace here, and glory hereafter. And for the other, we know 
what the apostle says, 1 Tim. vi. 8, " Having food and raiment, 
let us be therewith content." Nature is satisfied with a little, 
and grace with less. And now if the matter of our prayers lies 
within so narrow a compass, why should the dress and outside of 
them spread and diffuse itself into so wide and disproportioned a 
largeness? By reason of which, our words will be forced to 
hang loose and light without any matter to support them ; much 
after the same rate, that it is said to be in transubstantiation ; 
where accidents are left in the lurch by their proper subject, that 
gives them the slip, and so leaves those poor slender beings to 
uphold and shift for themselves. 

In brevity of speech, a man does not so much speak words, as 
things ; things in their precise and naked truth, and stripped of 
their rhetorical mask and their fallacious gloss. And therefore, 
in Athens they circumscribed the pleadings of their orators by a 
strict law, cutting off prologues and epilogues, and commanding 
them to an immediate representation of the case, by an impar- 
tial and succinct declaration of mere matter of fact. And this 
was, indeed, to speak things fit for a judge to hear, because it 
argued the pleader also a judge of what was fit for him to speak. 

And now, why should not this be both decency and devotion 
too, when we come to plead for our 2)oor souls before the great 
tribunal of heaven ? It was the saying of Solomon, " A word 
to the wise ;" and if so, certainly there can be no necessity of 
many Avords to him who is wisdom itself. For can any man 
think, that God delights to hear him make speeches, and to 
show his parts, as the word is, or to jumble a multitude of mis- 
applied scripture sentences together, interlarded with a frequent, 
nauseous repetition of " Ah Lord !" which some call exercising 
their gifts, but with a greater exercise of their hearers' patience ? 
Nay, does not he present his Maker, not only with a more 


decent, but also more free and liberal oblation, who tenders liini 
much in a little, and brings him his whole heart and soid wrap- 
ped up in three or four words, than he who, with fidl mouth 
and loud lungs, sends up whole voUies of articulate breath to the 
throne of grace ? For, neither in the esteem of God or man 
ought midtitude of words to pass for any more. In the present 
case, no doubt, God accounts and accepts of the fomier, as infi- 
nitely a more valuable offering than the latter. As that subject 
pays his prince a much nobler and more acceptable tribute who 
tenders him a purse of gold, than he who brings him a whole 
cart-load of fartliings ; in which there is weight without worth, 
and number without account. 

3. The third argument for brevity, or contractedncss of speech 
in prayer, shall be taken from the very nature and condition of 
the person who prays ; which makes it impossible for him to 
keep up the same fervour and attention in a long prayer, that he 
may in a short. For, as I first observed, that the mind of man 
cannot, with the same force and vigour, attend to several ob- 
jects at the same time ; so neither can it, with the same force 
and earnestness, exert itself upon one and the same object for 
any long time : great intention of mind spending the spirits too 
fast to continue its first freshness and agility long. For while 
the soul is a retainer to the elements, and a sojourner in the 
body, it must be content to submit its own qviickness and 
spirituality to the dulness of its vehicle, and to comply with the 
pace of its inferior companion. Just like a man shut up in a 
coach ; who, Avhile he is so, must be wilhng to go no faster than 
the motion of the coach will carry liim. He who does all by 
the help of those subtle, refined parts of matter, called spirits, 
must not think to persevere at the same pitch of acting while 
those principles of activity flag. No man begins and ends a long 
journey Avith the same pace. 

But noAv, when prayer has lost its due fervour and attention 
(which, indeed, are the very vitals of it), it is but the carcase of 
a prayer; and, consequently, must needs be loathsome and 
offensive to God : nay, though the greatest part of it should be 
enhvened and carried on with an actual attention, yet if that 
attention fails to enliven any one part of it, the whole is but a 
joining of the Kving and the dead together ; for which conjunc- 
tion the dead is not at all the better, but the living very much 
the worse. It is not length, nor copiousness of language, that is 
devotion, any more than bulk and bigness is valour, or flesh the 
measure of the spirit. A short sentence may be oftentimes a 
large and a mighty prayer. Devotion so managed, being like 
water in a well, where you have fulness in a little compass ; 
which surely is much nobler than the same carried out into 
many petit, creeping rivulets, with length and shallowness 
together. Let him who prays bestow all that strength, fervour, 


and attention, upon shortness and significance, that would other- 
wise run out and lose itself in length and luxuriancy of sj)eech 
to no purpose. Let not his tongue outstrip his heart ; nor pre- 
sume to carry a message to the throne of grace, while that stays 
behind. Let him not think to support so hard and weighty a 
duty with a tired, languishing, and bejaded devotion : to avoid 
which, let a man contract his expression where he cannot en- 
large his affection ; still remembering, that nothing can be more 
absurd in itself, nor more unacceptable to God, than for one en- 
gaged in the great work of prayer to hold on speaking after he 
has left off praying, and to keep the lips at work when the spirit 
can do no more. 

4. The fourth argument for shortness or conciseness of speech 
in prayer, shall be di'awn from this, that it is the most natural 
and lively way of expressing the utmost agonies and outcries of 
the soul to God, upon a quick, pungent sense, either of a press- 
ing necessity or an approaching calamity ; which, we know, are 
generally the chief occasions of prayer, and the most effectual 
motives to bring men upon their knees, in a vigorous application 
of themselves to this great duty. A person ready to sink under 
his Avants, has neither time nor heart to rhetoricate or make 
flourishes. No man begins a long grace when he is ready to 
starve : such a one's prayers are like the relief he needs, quick 
and sudden, short and immediate : he is like a man in torture 
upon the rack, whose pains are too acute to let his words be 
many, and whose desires of deliverance too impatient to delay 
the thing he begs for, by the manner of his begging it. 

It is a common saying, " If a man does not know how to pray, 
let him go to sea, and that will teach him." And we have a nota- 
ble instance of what kind of prayers men are taught in that 
school, even in the disciples themselves, when a storm arose, and 
the sea raged, and the ship was ready to be cast away, in the 
eighth of Matthew. In which case, we do not find that they fell 
presently to harangue it about seas and winds, and that dismal 
face of things that must needs appear all over the devouring 
element at such a time : all which, and the like, might no doubt 
have been very plentiful topics of eloquence to a man Avho should 
have looked upon these things from the shore, or discoursed of 
wrecks and tempests safe and warm in his parlour. But these 
poor wretches, who were now entering, as they thought, into the 
veiy jaws of death, struggling Avitli the last efforts of nature, upon 
the sense of a departing life ; and consequently could neither 
speak nor think any thing low or ordinary in such a condition, 
presently rallied up, and discharged the whole concern of their 
desponding souls in that short prayer of but three Avords, though 
much fuller and more forcible than one of three thousand, in the 
25th verse of the forementioned chapter, " Save us, Lord, or we 
perish." Death makes short work when it comes, and will teach 


him who would prevent it, to make shorter. For surely no man 
who tliinks liimself a perishing, can be at leisure to be eloquent ; 
or judge it either sense or devotion to begin a long prayer, when, 
in all likelihood, he shall conclude his life before it. 

5. The fifth and last argument that I shall produce for brevity 
of sjoeech, or fewness of words in prayer, shall be taken from the 
examples which Ave find in scrij^ture, of such as have been 
remarkable for brevity, and of such as have been noted for 
proHxity of speech, in the discharge of tliis duty. 

1. And first for brevity. To omit all those notable examples 
which the Old Testament affords us of it ; and to confine our- 
selves only to the New, in wliich we are undoubtedly most con- 
cerned. Was not this way of praying not only warranted, but 
sanctified, and set above all that the will of man could possibly 
except against it, by that infinitely exact form of prayer, pre- 
scribed by the greatest, the holiest, and the wisest man that ever 
Kved, even Clunst himself, the Son of God, and Saviour of the 
world ? Was it not an instance both of the truest devotion, and 
the fullest and most comprehensive reason, that ever proceeded 
from the mouth of man ? And yet withal the shortest and most 
succinct model that ever grasped all the needs and occasions of 
mankind, both spiritual and temporal, into so small a compass ? 
Doubtless, had our Saviour thought fit to amplify or be prolix, 
he, " in whom were hid all the treasures of wisdom," could not 
want matter, nor he who was himself " the Word," want variety 
of the fittest to have expressed his mind by. But he chose rather 
to contract the whole concern of both worlds in a few lines, and 
to unite both heaven and earth in his prayer, as he had done 
before in his person. And indeed one was a kind of copy or 
representation of the other. 

So then Ave see here brevity in the rule or pattern ; let us see 
it next in the practice, and after that, in the success of prayer. 
And first, we have the practice, as well as the pattern of it, in 
our Saviour himself; and that, in the most signal passage of his 
Avhole Hfe, even his preparation for his approaching death. In 
Avhich dolorous scene, Avhen his Avhole soul was nothing but sor- 
row (that great moving spring of invention and elocution), and 
Avhen nature Avas put to its last and utmost stretch, and so had 
no refuge or relief but in prayer ; yet even then, all his horror, 
agony, and distress of spirit, delivers itself but in tAvo very short 
sentences, in Matt. xxvi. 39, " O my Father, if it be possible, let 
tins cup pass from me ; nevertheless, not as I Avill, but as thou 
wilt." And again, the second time, Avith the like brevity, and 
the like Avords : " O my Father, if this cup may not pass from 
me, except I drink it, thy will be done." And lastly, the third 
time also, he used the same short form again ; and yet in all this, 
he was (as we may say Avithout a metaphor) even praying for 
life ; so far as the great business he Avas then about, to Avit, the 

268 DR, SOUTHS SERMON?. [^SliR.M. XV :. 

redemption of the world, would suffer him to pray for it. All 
wliich prayers of our Saviour, and others of like brevity, are pro- 
perly such as Ave call ejaculations ; an elegant simiHtude from a 
dart or arrow, shot or thrown out ; and such a one (we know) 
of a yard long, will fly further, and strike dee^jcr, than one 
of twenty. 

And then, in the last place, for the success of such brief 
prayers ; I shall give you but three instances of this, but they 
shall be of persons praying under the pressure of as great miseries 
as human nature could well be afflicted with. And the first shall 
be of the lejjer, Matt. viii. 2, or, as St. Luke describes him, "a 
man full of leprosy, who came to our Saviour, and worsliipped 
him;" and, as St. Luke again has it more particularly, "fell on his 
face before him," which is the lowest and most devout of all pos- 
tures of worship, " saying. Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make 
me clean." This was all his prayer : and the answer to it was, 
that he was immediately cleansed. The next instance shall be of 
the poor bhnd man, in Luke xviii. 38, following our Saviour 
with this earnest prayer : " Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy 
upon me." His whole prayer was no more ; for it is said in the 
next verse, that he went on, repeating it again and again: 
" Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy upon me." And the 
answer he received was, that his eyes were opened, and his sight 

The third and last instance shall be of the publican, in the 
same chapter of St. Luke ; praying under a lively sense of as 
great a leprosy and blindness of soid, as the other two could have 
of body. In the 13th verse, "he smote upon his breast, saying, 
God be merciful to me a sinner." He spoke no more ; though it 
is in the 10th verse, that he went solemnly and purposely up to 
the temple to pray : the issue and success of which prayer was, 
that he went home justified, before one of those whom all the 
Jewish church revered as absolutely the highest and most heroic 
examples of piety, and most beloved favourites of heaven, in the 
whole world. And now, if the force and virtue of these short 
prayers could rise so high as to cleanse a leper, to give sight to 
the blind, and to justify a pubhcan ; and if the worth of a prayer 
may at all be measured by the success of it, I suppose, no prayers 
whatsoever can do more ; and I never yet heard or read of any 
long prayer that did so much. Which brings on the other part 
of this our fifth and last argument, which was to be drawn from 
the examples of such as have been noted in scripture for prolixity 
or length of prayer. And of this, there are only two mentioned, 
the heathens and the Pharisees. The first, the grand instance of 
idolatry ; the other, of hypocrisy. But Christ forbids us the 
imitation of both ; " Wlien ye pray," says our Saviour in the 6th 
of Matthew, "be ye not like the heathens." But in what? IVhy, 
in tliis, " that they think they shall be heard for their much speak- 


ing," in the 7th verse. It is not the multitude that prevails in 
armies, and much less in Avords. And then for the Pharisees, 
whom our Saviour represents as the very vilest of men, and the 
greatest of cheats ; we have them amusing the world with pre- 
tences of a more refined devotion, while their heart was that time 
in their neighbour's coffers. For does not our Saviour expressly 
tell us, in Luke xx. and the two last verses, that the great tools, 
the hooks or engines, by which they compassed their worst, 
their wickedest, and most rapacious designs, were long prayers ? 
Prayers made only for a show or colour ; and that to the basest 
and most degenerous sort of villany, even the robbing the sj^ittal, 
and devouring the houses of poor, helj)les8, forlorn widows. Their 
devotion served all along but as an instiiiment to their avarice, 
as a factor or under-agent to their extortion. A practice wliich^ 
duly seen into, and stripped of its hypocritical blinds, could not 
but look very odiously and ill-favouredly ; and therefore, in come 
their long robes, and their long prayers together, and cover all. 
And the truth is, neither the length of one, nor of the other is 
ever found so useful, as when there is sometliing more than 
ordinary that woidd not be seen. This was the gainful godliness 
of the Pharisees ; and I beheve upon good observation, you will 
hardly find any like the Pharisees for their long prayers, who are 
not also extremely like them for something else. And thus hav- 
ing given you five arguments for brevity, and against prolixity of 
prayer ; let us now make this our other great rule, whereby to 
judge of the prayers of our church, and the prayers of those who 
dissent and divide from it. And, 

First, For that excellent body of prayers contained in our 
litm'gy, and both compiled and enjoined by pubhc authority. 
Have we not here a great instance of brevity and fulness 
together, cast into several short, significant collects, each con- 
taining a distinct, entire, and well-managed petition ? The whole 
set of them being hke a string of pearls, exceeding rich in con- 
junction ; and therefore of no small price or value, even single 
and by themselves. Nothing could have been composed with 
greater judgment ; every prayer being so short, that it is impos- 
sible it should weary ; and withal, so pertinent, that it is imjx)ssi- 
ble it should cloy the devotion. And indeed, so admirably fitted 
are they all to the common concerns of a Christian society, that 
when the rubric enjoins but the use of some of them, our wor- 
ship is not imperfect ; and when we use them all, there is none 
of theiu superfluous. 

And the reason assigned by some learned men for the prefer- 
ence of many short prayers, before a continued long one, is 
unanswerable ; namely, that by the former there is a more fre- 
qviently repeated mention made of the name, and some great 
attribute of God as the encouraging ground of our praying to 
him ; and withal, of the merits and mediation of Christ, as the 


only thing that can promise us success in what we pray for;. 
every distinct petition beginning with the former, and ending 
with the latter : by thus annexing of which to each particular 
thing that we ask forj we do manifestly confess and declare, that 
we cannot expect to obtain any one thing at the hands of God, 
but with a particular renewed respect to the merits of a Me- 
diator; and withal, remind the congregation of the same, by 
making it their part to renew a distinct Amen to every distinct 

Add to this the excellent contrivance of a great part of our 
liturgy into alternate responses ; by wliich means, the people 
are put to bear a considerable share in the whole service : which 
makes it almost impossible for them to be only idle hearers, or 
which is worse, mere lookers on : as they are very often, and 
may be always, if they can but keep their eyes open, at the long 
tedious prayers of the nonconformists. And tliis indeed is that 
which makes and denominates our liturgy truly and properly a 
book of common prayer. For, I think I may truly avouch (how 
strange soever it may seem at first) that there is no such thing 
as common, or joint prayer, any where amongst the i^rincipal 
dissenters from the church of England. For in the Romish 
communion, the j)riest says over the appointed prayers only to 
himself, and the rest of the people not hearing a word of what 
he says, repeat also their own particular prayers to themselves ; 
and when they have done, go their way : not all at once, as 
neither do they come at once, but scatteringly, one after another, 
according as they have finished their devotions. And then for 
the nonconformists ; their prayers being all extemporary, it is, 
as we have shown before, hardly possible for any, and utterly 
impossible for all to join in them. For surely, peoj)le cannot 
join in a prayer before they understand it ; nor can it be 
imagined, that all capacities should presently and immediately 
understand what they hear, when, possibly, the holder-forth him- 
self understands not what he says. From all which we may 
venture to conclude, that that excellent thing, common prayer, 
which is the joint address of a whole congregation, with united 
voice as well as heart, sending up their devotions to almighty 
God, is no where to be found in these kmgdoms, but in that best 
and nearest copy of primitive Christian worship, the divine ser- 
vice, as it is performed according to the orders of our church. 

As for those long prayers so frequently used by some before 
their sermons, the constitution and canons of our church are not 
at all responsible for them ; having provided us better things, 
and with great wisdom appointed a form of prayer to be used 
by all before their sermons. But as for this way of praying, 
now generally in use, as it was first taken up upon a humour 
of novelty and popularity, and by the same carried on till it had 
passed into a custom, and so put the rule of the church first out 


of use, and then out of countenance also ; so, if it be rio-htly 
considered, it will, in the very nature of the thing itself, be found 
a very senseless and absurd practice. For can there be any 
sense or propriety in beginning a new, tedious prayer in the 
pulpit, just after the church has, for near an hour together, with 
great variety of offices, suitable to all the needs of tlie congre- 
gation, been praying for all that can possibly be fit for Christians 
to pray for? Nothing cei'tainly can be more irrational. For 
which cause, amongst many more, that old sober form of bidding 
prayer, which, both against law and reason, has been justled out 
of the church by this upstart, puritanical encroaclunent, ought, 
with great reason, to be restored by authority; and both the use 
and users of it, by a strict and solemn reinforcement of the canon 
upon all, without exception, be rescued from that unjust scorn 
of the factious and ignorant, wliich the tyranny of the contrary 
usurping custom will otherwise expose them to. For surely, it 
can neither be decency nor order for our clergy to conform to the 
fanatics, as many in their prayers before sermon now-a-days do. 
And thus having accounted for the prayers of our church, 
according to the great rule prescribed in the text, " Let thy 
words be few ;" let us now according to the same, consider also 
the way of praying, so much used and aj)plauded by such as have 
renounced the communion and liturgy of our church ; and it is 
but reason that they should bring us something better in the room 
of Avhat they have so disdainfully cast off. But, on the contrary, 
are not all their prayers exactly after the heathenish and phari- 
saical copy? always notable for those two things, length and 
tautology ? Two whole hours for one prayer, at a fast, used to 
be reckoned but a moderate dose ; and that, for the most part, 
fraught with such irreverent, blasphemous expressions, that to 
repeat them, would profane the place I am speaking in ; and in- 
deed they seldom " carried on tlie work of such a day," as their 
phrase was, but they left the church in need of a new consecra- 
tion. Add to this, the incoherence and confusion, the endless 
repetitions, and the insufferable nonsense, that never failed to 
hold out, even with their utmost prolixity ; so that in all their 
long fasts, from first to last, from seven in the morning to seven 
in the evening, which was their measure, the pulpit was always 
the emptiest thing in the church : and I never knew such a fast 
kept by them, but then' hearers had cause to begin a thanks- 
giving as soon as they had done. And the truth is, when I 
consider the matter of their prayers, so full of ramble and in- 
consequence, and in every respect so very like the language of a 
dream : and compare it with their carriage of themselves in prayer, 
with their eyes for the most part shut, and their arms stretched 
out in a yawning posture, a man that should hear any of them 
pray, might, by a veryspardonable error, be induced to think that 
he was all the time hearing one talking in his sleep : besides the 

272 DR. SOUTH's sermons. []sERM. XVI. 

strange virtue which their prayers had to procure sleep in others 
too. So that he who should be present at all their long cant, 
would show a greater abihty in watching, than ever they could 
pretend to in praying, if he could forbear sleeping, having so 
strong a provocation to it, and so fair an excuse for it. In a 
word, such were their prayers, both for matter and expression, 
that, could any one truly and exactly write them out, it would 
be the shrewdest and most effectual way of writing against 
them, that could possibly be thought of. 

I should not have thus troubled either you or myself, by 
raking into the dirt and dunghill of these men's devotions, upon 
the account of any thing either done or said by them in the late 
times of eonfusion ; for as they have the king's, so I wish them 
God's pardon also, whom I am sure they have offended much 
more than they have both kings put together. But that which 
has provoked me thus to rip up and expose to you their nauseous 
and ridiculous way of addressing to God, even upon the most 
solemn occasions, is that intolerably rude and unprovoked inso- 
lence and scurrility, with which they are every day reproach- 
ing and scoffing at our liturgy, and the users of it, and thereby 
alienating the minds of the people from it, to such a degree, that 
many thousands are drawn by them into a fatal schism ; a schism 
that, unrepented of and continued in, will as infallibly ruin their 
souls, as theft, whoredom, murder, or any other of the most cry- 
ing, damning sins whatsoever. But leaving this to the justice of 
the government, to which it belongs to protect us in our spiri- 
tual as well as in our temporal concerns, I shall only say this, 
that nothing can be more for the honour of our liturgy, than to 
find it despised only by those who have made themselves remark- 
able to the world for despising the Lord's Prayer as much. 

In the mean time, for ourselves of the chm'ch of England, 
who, without pretending to any new lights, think it equally a 
duty and commendation to be wise, and to be devout only to 
sobriety, and who judge it no dishonour to God himself to be 
worshipped according to law and rule. If the directions of Solo- 
mon, the precept and example of our Saviour ; and lastly, the 
piety and experience of those excellent men and martyrs, who 
first composed, and afterwards owned our liturgy with their 
dearest blood, may be looked upon as safe and sufficient guides 
to us in our public worship of God ; then, upon the joint autho- 
rity of all these, we may pronounce our liturgy the greatest 
treasure of rational devotion in the Christian world. And I 
know no prayer necessary, that is not in the liturgy, but one : 
which is this : That God would vouchsafe to continue the Kturgy 
itself in use, honour, and veneration in this church for ever. 
And I doubt not, but all wise, sober, and good Cliristians will, 
with equal judgment and affection, give it their Amen. 

Now to God the Father, &c. 



of the heinous guilt of taking pleasure in other 

men's sins. 

Romans i. 32. 

Who hioimng the judgment of God, that they tvhich commit such 
things are tuorthy of death, not only do the same, hut have plea- 
sure in them that do them. 

From the beginning of the 18th verse to the end of the 31st 
(the verse immediately going before the text), Ave have a cata- 
logue of the blackest sins that human nature, in its highest 
depravation, is capable of committing ; and tliis so perfect, that 
there seems to be no sin imaginable, but what may be reduced to, 
and comprised under, some of the sins here specified. In a word, 
we have an abridgment of the lives and practices of the whole 
heathen world ; that is, of all the baseness and villany that both 
the corruption of nature, and the instigation of the devil, could 
for so many ages, by all the arts and oj)portunities, all the 
motives and mcentives of sinning, bring the sons of men to. 
And yet, as fuU and comprehensive as this catalogue of sin 
seems to be, it is but of sin under a limitation : a universality 
of sin under a certain kind ; that is, of all sins of direct and 
personal commission. And you will say, is not this a sufficient 
comi^rehension of aU ? For is not a man's person the compass of 
his actions? Or, can he operate further than he does exist? 
lYhy, yes, in some sense he may : he may not only commit such 
and such sins liimself, but also take pleasure in ' others that do 
commit them. Wliich expression implies these two things : first, 
that thus to take pleasure in other men's sins, is a distinct sin 
from all the former ; and, secondly, that it is much greater 
than the former : forasmuch as these terms, " not only do the 
same, but take pleasm'e," &c., import aggravation, as well as dis- 
tinction ; and are properly an advance a minore ad majus, a pro- 
gress to a further degree. And this, indeed, is the furthest that 
human pravity can reach, the highest point of villany that the 
debauched powers of man's mind can ascend unto. For surely, 
that sin that exceeds idolatry, monstrous unnatui*al lusts, covet- 
ousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, deceit, backbiting, hatred 
of God, spitefulness, pride, disobedience to parents, covenant- 
breaking, want of natural aifection, implacableness, unmerciful- 
ness, and the like : I say, that sin that is a pitch beyond all 
these, must needs be such a one as must nonplus the devil him- 

VOL. I. . T 


self to proceed further : it is the very extremity, the fuhiess, and 
the conckxding period of sin, the last line and the finishing stroke 
of the devil's image drawn upon the soul of man. 

Now the sense of the words may be fully and naturally cast 
into this one proposition, which shall be the subject of the follow- 
ing discourse, viz. 

That the guilt arising from a man's delighting or taking 
pleasure in other men's sins, or (which is all one) in other men 
for their sins, is greater than he can possibly contract by a com- 
mission of the same sins in his own person. 

For the handling of which, I cannot but think it superfluous, 
to offer at any expHcation of what it is to take pleasure in other 
men's sins ; it being impossible for any man to be so far unac- 
quainted with the motions and operations of his own mind, as not 
to know how it is affected and disposed, when any tiling pleases 
or dehghts him. And therefore I shall state the prosecution of 
the proposition upon these following things. 

I. I shall show what it is that brings a man to such a disposi- 
tion of mind, as to iake pleasure in other men's sins. 

II. I shall show the reasons, why a man's being disposed to do 
so, comes to be attended with such an extraordinary guUt. And, 

III. And lastly, I shall declare what kind of persons are to be 
reckoned under this character. Of each of which in their order. 

And first, for the first of these. What it is that brings a man, &c. 
In order to which, I shall premise these four considerations. 

1. That every man naturally has a distinguishing sense of 
turpe et honestum ; of what is honest, and what is dishonest ; of 
what is fit, and what is not fit to be done. There are those 
practical principles and rules of action, treasured up in that part 
of man's mind, called by the schools o■uvr?;p^Jo■tC) that, like the 
candle of the Lord, set up by God himself in the heart of every 
man, discovers to him, both what he is to do, and what to avoid ; 
they are " a light, lighting every man that cometli into the world." 

And in respect of which principally it is, that God is said not 
to have "left himself without witness" in the world ; there being 
something fixed in the nature of man, that will be sure to testify 
and declare for him, 

2. The second thing to be considered, is, that there is conse- 
quently upon this distinguishing principle an inward satisfaction, 
or dissatisfaction, arising in the heart of every man, after he has 
done a good or an evil action ; an action agreeable to, or deviat- 
ing from, this great rule. And this, no doubt, proceeds not only 
from the real unsuitableness, that every thing sinful or dishonest 
bears to the nature of man, but also from a secret, inward, fore- 
boding fear, that some evil or other will follow the doing of that 
which a man's own conscience disallows liim in. For no man 
naturally is or can be cheerful immediately upon the doing of a 


wicked action : there being something witliin him that presently 
gives sentence against him for it : which, no qnestiou, is the voice 
of God himself, speaking in the hearts of men, whether they 
understand it or no ; and by secret intimations giving the sinner 
a foretaste of that direful cup, which he is like to drink more 
deeply of hereafter. 

3. The tliird thing to be considered is, that this distinguishing 
sense of good and evil, and this satisfaction and dissatisfaction of 
mind, consequent upon a man's acting suitably or unsuitably to 
it, is a principle neither presently nor easily to be worn out or 
extinguished. For besides that it is founded in nature, which 
kind of things are always most durable and lasting, the great 
important end that God designs it for — which is no less than the 
government of the noblest part of the world, mankind — suffi- 
ciently shows the necessity of its being rooted deep in the heart, 
and put beyond the danger of being torn up by an ordinary vio- 
lence done to it. 

4. The fourth and last thing to be considered is, that that 
which weakens and directly tends to extinguish this principle, so 
far as it is capable of being extinguished, is an inferior, sensitive 
principle, which receives its gratifications from objects clean con- 
trary to the former ; and which affect a man, in the state of this 
present life, much more warmly and vividly than those which 
affect only his nobler part, his mind. So that there being a con- 
trariety between those things that conscience inclines to, and 
those that entertain the senses ; and since the more quick and 
affecting pleasure still arises from these latter, it follows, that 
the gratifications of these are more powerful to command the 
principles of action than the other, and consequently are, for the 
most part, too hard for, and victorious over the dictates of right 

Now from these four considerations, thus premised, we natur- 
ally infer these two things : 

First, That no man is quickly or easily brought to take a full 
pleasure and delight in his own sins. For though sin offers itself 
in never so pleasing and alluring a dress at first, yet the remorse 
and inward regrets of the soul, upon the commission of it, infi- 
nitely overbalance those faint and transient gratifications it 
affords the senses. So that, upon the whole matter, the sinner, 
even at his highest pitch of enjoyment, is not pleased with it so 
much, but he is afflicted more. And as long as these inward 
rejolts and recoilings of the mind continue, which they will cer- 
tainly do for a considerable part of a man's life, the sinner will 
find his accounts of pleasure very poor and short ; being so 
mixed, and indeed overdone with the contrary impressions of 
trouble upon his mind, that it is but a bitter sweet at best ; and 
the fine colours of the serpent do by no means make amends for 
the smart and poison of his sting. 

T 2 

276 DR. SOUTH's sermons. QsERM. XVII,. 

Secondly, The otiier tiling to be inferred is, that as no man is 
quickly or easily brought to take a full pleasure or delight in liis 
own sins, so much less easily can he be brought to take plea- 
sure in those of other men. The reason is, because the chief 
motive, as we have observed, that induces a man to sin, v/hich is 
the gratification of his sensitive part by a sinful act, cannot be 
had from the sins of another man ; since naturally and directly, 
they affect only the agent that commits them. For certainly 
another man's intemperance cannot affect my sensuality, any 
more than the meat and drink that I take into my mouth can 
please his palate. But of this more fully in some of the following 

In the mean time, it is evident from reason, that there is a 
considerable difficulty in a man's arriving to such a disposition of 
mind, as shall make him take pleasure in other men's sins ; and 
yet it is also as evident from the text, and from experience too, 
that some men are brought to do so. And therefore, since there 
is no effect, of what kind soever, but is resolvable into some cause, 
we will inquire into the cause of this vile and preternatural 
temper of mind, that should make a man please himself with 
that which can noways reach or affect those faculties and princi- 
ples, which nature has made the proper seat and subject of plea- 
sure. Now the causes, or at least some of the causes, that 
debauch and corrupt the mind of man to such a degree, as to 
take pleasure in other men's sins, are these five. 

1. A commission of the same sins in a man's own person. 
This is imported in the very Avords of the text ; where it is said 
of such persons, that " they not only do the same things ;" 
which must therefore imply that they do them. It is conversa- 
tion and acquaintance, that must give delight in things and 
actions, as well as in jjersons. And it is trial that must begin 
the acquaintance : it being hardly imaginable, that one should be 
delighted with a sin at second-hand, till he has known it at the 
first. Delight is the natural result of practice and experiment ; 
and when it flows from any thing else, so far it recedes from 
nature. None look with so much pleasure upon the works of 
art, as those who are artists themselves. They are therefore 
their delight, because they were heretofore their employment ; 
and they love to see such things, because they once loved to do 
them. In like manner, a man must sin himself into a love of 
other men's sins ; for a bare notion or speculation of this black 
art will not carry him so far. No sober, temperate person in the 
world (whatsoever other sins he may be inclinable to, and guilty 
of) can look with any complacency upon the drunkenness and 
sottishness of his neighbours : nor can any chaste person, be liis 
other failings what they will, reflect with any pleasure or delight 
upon the filthy, unclean conversation of another, though never 
so much in fashion, and vouched, not by common use only, but 


applause. No; he must first be an exercised, thorough-paced 
practitioner of these vices himself; and they must have endeared 
themselves to him by those personal gratifications he had received 
from them, before he can come to like them so far as to be 
pleased and enamoured with them, wheresoever he sees them. 
It is possible indeed, that a sober or a chaste person, upon the 
stock of ill-will, envy, or spiritual pride, which is all the religion 
that some have, may be glad to see the intemperance and de- 
bauchery of some about him: but it is impossible that such 
persons should take any delight in the men themselves for being 
so. The truth is, in such a case, they do not properly dehght in 
the ^dce itself, though they inwardly rejoice (and after a godly 
sort, no doubt) to see another guilty of it ; but they delight in 
the mischief and disaster, which they know it will assuredly 
bring upon him, whom they hate, and Avish ill to. They rejoice 
not in it, as in a delightful object, but as in a cause and means of 
their neighbour's ruin. So gratefid, nay, so delicious are even 
the horridest villanies committed by others to the pharisaical 
jjiety of some ; who, in the mean time, can be wholly uncon- 
cerned for the reproach brought thereby upon the name of God 
and the honour of religion, so long as by the same their sanctified 
spleen is gratified in their brother's infamy and destruction. 

This therefore we may reckon upon, that scarce any man 
passes to a liking of sin in others, but by first practising it himself; 
and conseqviently may take it for a shrewd indication and sign, 
whereby to judge of the manners of those who have sinned with 
too much art and caution to suffer the eye of the world to 
charge some sins directly upon their conversation. For though 
such kind of men have lived never so much upon the reserve, as 
to their personal behaviour, yet if they be observed to have a 
particular delight in and fondness for persons noted for any sort of 
sin, it is ten to one but there was a communication in the sin, 
before there was so in affection. The man has, by tliis, directed 
us to a copy of himself ; and though we cannot always come to a 
sight of the original, yet by a true copy we may know all that is 
in it. 

2. A second cause that brings a man to take pleasure in other 
men's sins, is not only a commission of those sins in his own 
person, but also a commission of them against the full hght and 
conviction of his conscience. For this also is expressed in the 
text ; where the persons charged with this wretched disposition 
of mind are said to have been such " as knew the judgment of 
God, that they who committed such things were worthy of 
death." They knew that there was a righteous and a searching 
law, directly forbidding such practices ; and they knew that it 
carried with it the divine stamp, that it was the law of God ; 
they knew also, that the sanction of it was under the greatest 
and dreadfullest of all penalties, death. And this surely, one 


would think, was knowledge enough to have opened both a man's 
eyes, and his heart too ; his eyes to see, and his heart to consider 
the intolerable miscliief that the commission of the sin set before 
him must infallibly plunge him into. Nevertheless, the persons 
here mentioned were resolved to venture, and to commit the sin, 
even while conscience stood protesting against it. They were 
such as broke through all mounds of laAV, such as laughed at the 
sword of vengeance, which divine justice brandished in their 
faces. For we must know, that God has set a flaming sword not 
only before paradise, but before hell itself also ; to keep men out 
of this, as well as out of the other. And conscience is the angel 
into whose hand this sword is put. But if now the sinner shall 
not only wrestle with this angel, but throw him too ; and win so 
complete a victory over his conscience, that all these considera- 
tions shall be able to strike no terror into his mind, lay no 
restraint upon his lusts, no control upon his appetites ; he is cer- 
tainly too strong for the means of grace ; and his heart lies open, 
like a broad and high road, for all the sin and villany in the 
world freely to pass" through. 

The truth is, if we impartially consider the nature of these 
sins against conscience, Ave shall find them such strange paradoxes, 
that a man must balk all common j^rinciples, and act contrary to 
the natural way and motive of all human actions, in the commis- 
sion of them. For that which naturally moves a man to do any 
thing, must be the apprehension and expectation of some good 
from the thing which he is about to do : and that wliich naturally 
keeps a man from doing of a tiling, must be the apprehension 
and fear of some mischief likely to ensue from that thing or 
action, that he is ready to engage in. But now, for a man to do 
a thing, while liis conscience, the best light that he has to judge 
by, assures him that he shall be infinitely, unsupportably miser- 
able, if he does it ; this is certainly unnatural, and, one would 
imagine, impossible. 

And therefore, so far as one may judge, while a man acts 
against his conscience, he acts by a principle of direct infidelity, 
and does not really believe that those things that God has thus 
threatened, shall ever come to pass. For though he may yield a 
general faint assent to the truth of those propositions, as they 
stand recorded in scripture ; yet, for a thorough, practical belief, 
that those general propositions shall be particidarly made good 
upon his person, no doubt, for the time that he is sinning against 
conscience, such a behef has no place in liis mind. Which being 
so, it is easy to conceive hoAV ready and disposed this must needs 
leave the soul, to admit of any, even the most horrid, unnatural 
proposals, that the devil himself can suggest : for conscience 
being once extinct, and the Spirit of God withdrawn (which 
never stays with a man when conscience has once left him), the 
soul, like the first matter to all forms, has a universal propensity 


to all lewdness. For every violation of conscience proportion- 
ably wears off something of its native tenderness, which tender- 
ness being the cause of that anguish and remorse that it feels 
upon the commission of sin ; it follows, that when, by degrees, 
it comes to have woi'n off all this tenderness, the sinner will find 
no trouble of mind upon his doing the very wickedest and worst 
of actions; and consequently, that this is the most direct and 
effectual introduction to all sorts and degrees of sin. 

For which reason it was, that I alleged sinning against con- 
science for one of the causes of this vile temper and habit of 
mind, wliich \^ are now discoursing of. Not that it has any 
special productive efficiency of this particular sort of sinning, 
more than of any other, but that it is a general cause of this, as 
of all other great vices ; and that it is impossible but a man 
must have first passed this notable stage, and got his conscience 
thorouglily debauched and hardened, before he can arrive to the 
height of sin, which I account the delighting in other men's sins 
to be. 

3. A third cause of this villanous disposition of mind, besides 
a man's personal commission of such and such sins, and liis com- 
mission of them against conscience, must be also his continuance 
in them. For God forbid, that every single commission of a sin, 
though great for its kind, and withal acted against conscience for 
its aggravation, should so far deprave the soul, and bring _it to 
such a reprobate sense and condition, as to take pleasure in other 
men's sins. For we know what a foul sin David committed, 
and what a crime St. Peter himself fell into ; both of them, no 
doubt, fully and clearly against the dictates of their conscience ; 
yet we do not find, that either of them was thereby brought to 
such an impious frame of heart, as to delight in their own sins, 
and nii,ich less in other men's. And therefore, it is not every 
sinful violation of conscience that can quench the Spirit, to such 
a degree as we have been speaking of ; but it must be a long, in- 
veterate course and custom of sinning after this manner, that at 
length produces and ends in such a cursed effect. For this is so 
great a masterpiece in sin, that no man begins with it : he 
must have passed his tyrocinium, or novitiate, in sinning, before 
he can come to this, be he never so quick a proficient. No 
man can mount so fast, as to set his foot upon the highest 
step of the ladder at first. Before a man can come to be pleased 
with sin, because he sees his neighbour commit it, he must 
have had such a long acquaintance with it himself, as to 
create a kind of intimacy or friendship between him and that ; 
and then we know, a man is naturally glad to see his old 
friend, not only at his OAvn house, but wheresoever he meets him. 
It is generally the property of an old sinner, to find a delight in 
reviewing his own villanies in the practice of other men ; to see 
his sin and himself, as it were, in reversion ; and to find a greater 


satisfaction in beholding him who succeeds him in his vice, than 
him who is to succeed hun in his estate. In the matter of sin, 
age makes a greater change upon the soul, than it does or can 
upon the body. And as in this, if we compare the picture of a 
man, drawn at the years of seventeen or eighteen, with a picture 
of the same person at threescore and ten, hardly the least trace 
or similitude of one face can be found in the other. So for the 
soul, the diiference of the disi^ositions and quahties of the inner 
man Avill be fovmd much greater. Compare the harmlessness, 
the credulity, the tenderness, the modesty, and the ingenuous 
pliableness to virtuous counsels, which is in youth, as it comes 
fresh and mitainted out of the hands of nature, with the mis- 
chievousness, the slyness, the craft, the impudence, the falsehood, 
and the confirmed obstinacy in most sorts of sin, that is to be 
found in an aged, long-practised sinner, and you will confess the 
complexion and hue of his soid to be altered more than that of 
his face. Age has given him another body, and custom another 
mind. All those seeds of virtue and good morality, that were 
the natural endowments of our first years, are lost, and dead for 
ever. And in respect of the nati^^e innocence of childhood, no 
man, through old age, becomes twice a child. The vices of old 
age have in them the stiffness of it too. And as it is the 
unfittest time to learn in, so the unfitness of it to unlearn will 
be found much greater. 

Which considerations, joined with that of its imbecility, make it 
the proper season for a superannuated sinner to enjoy the delights 
of sin in the rebound ; and to supply the impotence of practice 
by the airy, fantastic pleasure of memory and reflection. For 
all that can be allowed him now, is to refresh his decrepit effete 
sensuality with the transcript and history of liis former life, 
recognised, and read over by him, in the ^dcious rants of the 
vigorous, youtliful debauchees of the present time, whom (with 
an odd kind of passion, mixed Avith pleasure and envy too) he 
sees flourishing in all the bravery and prime of their age and 
vice. An old wrestler loves to look on, and to be near the lists, 
though feebleness will not let him offer at the prize. An old 
huntsman finds a music in the noise of hounds, though he cannot 
follow the chase. An old drunkard loves a tavern, though he 
cannot go to it, but as he is supported, and led by another, just 
as some are observed to come from thence. And an old wanton 
Avill be doating upon women, when he can scarce see them with- 
out spectacles. And to show the true love and faitliful allegiance 
that the old servants and subjects of vice ever after bear to it, 
nothing is more usual and frequent, than to hear, that such as 
have been strumpets in their youth, turn procurers in their age. 
Their great concern is, that the vice may still go on. 

4. A foiu'th cause of men's taking pleasure in the sins of 
others, is, from that meanness and poor-spiritedncss that na- 


turally and inseparably acc6mj)anies all guilt. Whosoever is 
conscious to himself of sin, feels in himself, whether he will own 
it or not, a proportionable shame, and a secret depression of 
spirit thereupon. And this is so irksome and uneasy to man's 
mind, that he is restless to relieve and rid himself from it : for 
which he finds no way so effectual, as to get company in the 
same sin. For company, in any action, gives both credit to that, 
and countenance to the agent ; and so much as the sinner gets 
of this, so much he casts off of shame. Singularity in sin puts 
it out of fashion; since to be alone in any practice, seems to 
make the judgment of the world against it ; but the concurrence 
of others is a tacit approbation of that in wliich they concur. 
Solitude is a kind of nakedness, and the result of that, we know, 
is shame. It is company only that can bear a man out in an ill 
thing ; and he who is to encounter and fight the law, wiU be 
sure to need a second. No Avonder, therefore, if some take de- 
light in the immoralities and baseness of others ; for nothing can 
support their minds, drooping, and sneaking, and inwardly re- 
proaching them, from a sense of their own guilt, but to see 
others as bad as themselves. 

To be vicious amongst the virtuous is a double disgrace and 
misery ; but where the whole company is vicious and debauched, 
they presently like, or at least easily pardon one another. And 
as it is observed by some, that there is none so homely but loves 
a looking-glass ; so it is certain, that there is no man so vicious 
but delights to see the image of his vice reflected upon him from 
one who exceeds, or at least equals him in the same. 

Sin in itself is not only shameful, but also weak ; and it seeks 
a remedy for both in society: for it is this that must give it 
both colour and support. But on the contrary, how great, and, 
as I may so speak, how self-sufficient a thing is virtue ! It needs 
no credit from abroad, no countenance from the multitude. 
Were there but one virtuous man in the world, he would hold 
up his head with confidence and honour. He would shame the 
world, and not the world him. For, according to that excellent 
and great saying. Pro v. xiv. 14, "A good man shall be satisfied 
from himself." He needs look no further. But if he desires to see 
the same virtue propagated and diffused to those about him, it 
is for their sakes, not his own. It is his charity that wishes, and 
not his necessity that requires it. For solitude and singularity 
can neither daunt nor disgrace him, unless we could suppose it a 
disgrace for a man to be singularly good. 

But a vicious person, like the basest sort of beasts, never 
enjoys himself but in the herd. Company, he thinks, lessens the 
shame of vice, by sharing it ; and abates the torrent of a com- 
mon odium by deriving it into many channels ; and, therefore,^ if 
he cannot wholly avoid the eye of the observer, he hopes to dis- 
tract it at least by a multiplicity of the object. These, I confess. 


are poor shifts and miserable shelters for a sick and a self-up- 
braiding conscience to fly to ; and yet they are some of the best 
that the debauchee has to cheer up his spirits with in this world. 
For if, after all, he must needs be seen and taken notice of, with 
all his filth and noisomeness about him, he promises himself 
however, that it Avill be some allay to his reproach, to be but one 
of many, to march in a troop, and by a preposterous kind of am- 
bition to be seen in bad company. 

5. The fifth and last cause that I shall mention, inducing men 
to take pleasure in the sins of others, is a certain, peculiar, unac- 
countable malignity, that is in some natures and dispositions. I 
know no other name or word to express it by. But the thing 
itself is frequently seen in the temporal concerns of this world. 
For are there not some who find an inward secret rejoicing in 
themselves, when they see or hear of the loss or calamity of 
their neio-hbour, though no imao-inal^le interest or advantage of 
their own is, or can be served thereby ? But it seems there is 
a base, wolfish principle within, that is fed and gratified with 
another's misery ; and no other account or reason in the Avorld 
can be given of its being so, but that it is the natui'e of the beast 
to dehght in such things. 

And as this occurs frequently in temporals, so there is no 
doubt, but that with some few persons it acts the same way also 
in spirituals. I say, with some few persons ; for, thanks be to 
God, the common, known corruption of human nature, upon the 
bare stock of its original depravation, does not usually proceed 
so far. Such a one, for instance, was that wretch, who made a 
poor captive renounce his religion, in order to the saving of his 
life ; and when he had so done, presently ran him through, glory- 
ing that he had thereby destroyed his enemy, both body and soul. 
But more remarkably such was that monster of diabolical base- 
ness here in England, avIio some years since, in the reign of king- 
Charles I., suffered death for crimes scarce ever heard of before ; 
having frequently boasted, that as several men had their several 
pleasm-es and recreations, so his pecuhar pleasure and recreation 
was to destroy souls, and accordingly to put men upon such prac- 
tices as he knew woidd assuredly do it. But above all, the late 
saying of some of the dissenting brotherhood ought to be pro- 
claimed and celebrated to their eternal honour ; who, while there 
was another new oath preparing, which they both supposed and 
hoped most of the clergy would not take, in a most insulting 
manner gave out thereupon. That they were resolved either to 
have our livings, or to damn our souls. An expression so fraught 
with all the spite and poison which the devil himself could infuse 
into words, that it ought to remain as a monument of the 
humanity, charity, and Christianity of this sort of men for ever. 

Now such a temper or principle as these and the like passages 
do import, I call a jjcculiar malignity of nature ; since it is 


evident, that iieither the inveterate love of vice, nor yet the long 
practice of it, and that even against the reluctancies and light of 
conscience, can of itself have this devilish effect upon the mind, 
but as it falls in with such a villanous preternatural disposition as 
I have mentioned. For to instance in the particular case of 
parents and children, let a father be never so vicious, yet, 
generally speaking, he would not have his child so. Nay, it is 
certain, that some, who have been as corrupt in then' morals as 
vice could make them, have yet been infinitely solicitous to have 
their children soberly, virtuously, and piously brought up : so 
that, although they have " begot sons after their own likeness," 
yet they are not willing to breed them so too. 

Wliich, by the way, is the most pregnant demonstration in the 
world, of that self-condemning sentence, that is perpetually 
sounding in every great sinner's breast ; and of that inward grat- 
ing dishke of the very thing he practises, that he should abhor to 
see the same in any one, whose good he nearly tenders, and 
whose pei'son he wishes well to. But if now on the other side, 
we should chance to find a father corrupting his son, or a mother 
debauching her daughter, as God knows such monsters have been 
seen within the four seas, we must not charge this barely upon a 
high predominance of ^dce in these persons, but much more upon 
a peculiar anomaly and baseness of nature : if the name of nature 
may be allowed to that which seems to be an utter cashiering of 
it ; a deviation from, and a contradiction to, the common princi- 
ples of humanity. For this is such a disposition as strips the 
father of the man, as makes liim sacrifice his children to Moloch ; 
and as much outdo the cruelty of a cannibal or a Saturn, as it is 
more barbarous and inhuman to damn a child than to devour him. 

We sometimes read and hear of monstrous births, but we may 
often see a greater monstrosity in educations : thus, when a father 
has begot a man, he trains him up into a beast, making even 
his own house a stew, a bordel, and a school of lewdness, to instil 
the rudiments of vice into the unwary, flexible years of his poor 
children, poisoning their tender minds with the irresistible au- 
thentic venom of his base example ; so that all the instruction 
they find within their father's walls, shall be only to be disci- 
plined to an earlier practice of sin, to be catechized into all the 
mysteries of inquity, and at length, confirmed in a mature, grown 
up, incorrigible state of debauchery. And this some parents call 
a teaching their children to know the world, and to study men ; 
thus leading them, as it were, by the hand, through all the 
forms and classes, all the varieties and modes of villany, till at 
length they make them ten times more the children of the devil, 
than of themselves. Now, I say, if the unparalleled w^ickedness 
of the age should at any time cast us upon such blemishes of 
mankind as these, who, Avhile they thus treat their children, 
should abuse and usurp the name of parents, by assuming it to 

284 DR. south's sermons. Qserm. xvii. 

themselves ; let us not call them by the low, diminutive term or 
title of sinful, wicked, or ungodly men ; but let us look upon 
them as so many prodigious exceptions from our common nature, 
as so many portentous animals, hke the strange unnatural pro- 
ductions of Africa, and fit to be publicly shown, were they not 
unfit to be seen. For certainly, where a child finds his own 
parents his perverters, he cannot be so properly said to be born, 
as to be damned in the world ; and better were it for him by far, 
to have been unborn and unbegot, than to come to ask blessing 
of those whose conversation breathes nothing; but contamon and 
a curse. So impossible, and so much a paradox is it, for any 
parent to impart to liis child his blessing and his vice too. 

And thus I have despatched the first general thing proposed 
for the handling of the words, and shown in five several particu- 
lars, what it is that brings a man to such a disposition of mind, 
as to take pleasure in other men's sins. I proceed now to the 

Second, which is, to shoio the reasons, lohy a mcirCs being dis- 
posed to do so, comes to be attended with such an extraordinary 
guilt. And the first shall be taken from this, that naturally 
there is no motive to induce or tempt a man to this way of 
sinning. And this is a most certain truth, that the lesser the 
temptation is, the greater is the sin. For in every sin, by how 
much the more free the Avill is in its choice, by so much is the 
act the more sinful. And where there is nothing to importune, 
urge, or provoke it to act, there is so much a higher and perfecter 
degree of freedom about that act. For albeit, the wiU is not 
capable of being compelled to any of its actings, yet it is capable 
of being made to act with more or less difficulty, according to the 
different impressions it receives from motives or objects. If the 
object be extremely pleasing, and apt to gratify it ; there, though 
the will has still a power of refusing it, yet it is not without some 
difficulty. Upon which account it is, that men are so strongly 
carried out to, and so hardly taken off" from the practice of vice ; 
namely, because the sensual pleasure arising from it is still im- 
portuning and drawing them to it. 

But now, from whence springs this pleasure ? Is it not from 
the gratification of some desire founded in nature ? An irregular 
gratification it is indeed very often : yet still the foundation of it 
is, and must be, something natural : so that the sum of all is tliis, 
that the naturalness of a desire is the cause that the satisfaction 
of it is pleasure, and pleasure importunes the will, and that which 
importunes the will, puts a difficulty in the will's refusing or 
forbearino; it. Thus drunkenness is an iiTeo-ular satisfaction of 
the appetite of thirst; uncleanness an unlawful gratification fof 
the appetite of procreation ; and covetousness a boundless, un- 
reasonable pursuit of the princijjle of self-preservation. So that 
all these are founded in some natural desire, and are therefore 
pleasurable, and upon that account tempt, soUcit, and entice the 


Avill. In a word, there is hardly any one vice or sin of dii'ect and 
j)ersonal commission, but Avhat is the irregularity and abuse of 
one of those two grand natural principles ; namely, either that 
which inclines a man to preserve liimself, or that which inclines 
him to please himself. 

But now, what principle, faculty, or desire, by which nature 
projects either its own pleasure or preservation, is or can be 
gratified by another man's personal pursuit of his own vice ? It 
is evident that all the pleasure that naturally can be received 
from a vicious action, can immediately and personally affect none 
but him who does it; for it is an application of the pleasing 
object only to liis own sense : and no man feels by another man's 
senses. And therefore the delight that a man takes from another's 
sin, can be nothing else but a fantastical, preternatural com- 
placency arising from that wliich he has really no sense or feehng 
of. It is properly a love of vice, as such, a delighting in sin for 
its own sake ; and is a direct imitation, or rather an exemplifica- 
tion of the malice of the devil, who delights in seeing those sins 
committed, which the very condition of his nature renders him 
incapable of committing himself. For the devil can neither drink, 
nor whore, nor play the epicure, though he enjoys the pleasures 
of all these at a second hand, and by malicious approbation. 
" If a man plays the thief," says Solomon, " and steals to satisfy 
his hunger," Prov. vi. 30, though it cannot wholly excuse the 
fact, yet it sometimes extenuates the guilt. And we know, there 
are some corrupt affections in the soul of man, that urge and push 
him on to their satisfaction, with such an impetuous fury, that 
when we see a man overborne and run down by them, consider- 
ing the frailty of human nature, we cannot but pity the person, 
while we abhor the crime. It being like one ready to drink 
poison, rather than to die with thirst.' 

But when a man shall, with a sober, sedate, diabolical rancour, 
look upon and enjoy himself in the sight of his neighbour's sin 
and shame, and secretly hug himself upon the ruins of his 
brother's virtue, and the dishonours of his reason, can he plead 
the instigation of any appetite in nature inclining him to this ; 
and that would otherwise render him uneasy to himself, should 
he not thus triimiph in another's folly and confusion ? No, cer- 
tainly, this cannot be so much as pretended. For he may as well 
carry his eyes in another man's head, and run races with another 
man's feet, as directly and naturally taste the pleasures that 
spring from the gratification of another man's appetites. 

Nor can that person, whosoever he is, who accounts it his 
recreation and diversion to see one man wallowing in his filthy 
revels, and another made infamous and noisome by his sensuality, 
be so impudent as to allege for a reason of his so doing, that 
either all the enormous draughts of the one, do or can leave the 
least rehsh upon the tip of liis tongue ; or, that all the fornica- 

286 DR. soriHS sermons. [^serm xvii. 

tions and whoredoms of the other, do or can quench or cool the 
boilings of his own lust. No, this is impossible. And if so, 
what can we then assign for the cause of this monstrous dispo- 
sition? Why, all that can be said in tliis case is, that nature 
proceeds by quite another method ; having given men such and 
such appetites, and allotted to each of them their respective plea- 
sures ; the appetite and the pleasure stiU cohabiting in the same 
subject: but the devil and long custom of sinning have super- 
induced upon the soul new, unnatural, and absurd desires ; de- 
sires that have no real object ; desires that relish things not at 
all desirable ; but, like the sickness and distemper of the soul, 
feeding only upon filth and corruption, fire and brimstone, and 
giving a man the devil's nature and the devil's delight : who has 
no other joy or happiness, but to dishonour his Maker, and to 
destroy his fellow creature ; to corrupt him here, and to torment 
him hereafter. In fine, there is as much difference between the 
pleasure a man takes in his own sins, and that which he takes in 
other men's, as there is between the wickedness of a man and the 
wickedness of a devil. 

2. A second reason why a man's taking pleasure in the sins 
of others comes to be attended with such an extraordinary guilt, 
is, from the boundless, unlimited nature of tliis way of sinning. 
For by this a man contracts a kind of a universal guilt, and, as 
it were, sins over the sins of all other men ; so that while the act 
is theirs, the guilt of it is equally his. Consider any man as 
to his personal powers and opportunities of sinning, and com- 
paratively they are not great ; for at greatest, they must still be 
limited by the measure of a man's acting, and the term of his 
duration. And a man's active powers are but weak, and his 
continuance in the world but short. So that nature is not suffi- 
cient to keep pace with his corruptions, by answering desire with 
proportionable practice. 

For to instance in those two grand extravagancies of lust and 
drunkenness. Surely no man is of so general and diffusive a 
lust, as to prosecute his amours all the world over ; and let it 
burn never so outrageously for the present, yet age will in time 
chill those heats ; and the impure flame will either die of itself, 
or consume the body that harbours it. And so for intemperance 
in drinking ; no man can be so much a swine, as to be always 
pouring in, but in the compass of some years he will drown his 
health and his strength in his own belly ; and after all his drunken 
trophies, at length drink down himself too ; and that certainly 
Avill and must put an end to the debauch. 

But now, for the way of sinning which we have been S23eaking 
of, it is neither confined by place nor weakened by age ; but the 
bedrid, the gouty, and the lethargic, may, upon this account, 
equal the activity of the strongest and most vegete sinner. 
Such a one may take his brother by the throat, and act the 


murderer, even while he can neither stir a hand or foot ; and he 
may invade his neighbour's bed, while weakness has tied him 
down to his own. He may sin over all the adulteries and de- 
bauches, all the frauds and oppressions of the whole neighbour- 
hood, and, as I may so speak, he may break every command of 
God's law by proxy, and it Avere well for him if he could be 
damned by pi'oxy too. A man, by delight and fancy, may grasp 
in the sins of countries and ages, and by an inward liking of 
them communicate in their guilt. He may take a range all the 
world over, and draw in all that wide circumference of sin and 
vice, and centre it in his own breast. For, whatsoever sin a 
man extremely loves, and woidd commit if he had opportunity, 
and, in the mean time, pleases liimself Avith the speculation of 
the same, Avhether ever he commits it or no, it leaves a stain and 
a guilt upon his conscience ; and, according to the spiritual and 
severe accounts of the law, is made in a great respect his own. 
So that by this means, there is a kind of transmigration of sins, 
much like that which Pythagoras held of souls. Such a one to 
be sure it is, as makes a man not only, according to the apostle's 
plu'ase, a " partaker of other men's sins," but also a deriver of 
the whole entire guilt of them to liimself; and yet so as to 
leave the committer of them as full of guilt as he was before. 

From whence Ave see the infinitely fruitful and productive 
poAver of this Avay of sinning ; hoAv it can increase and multiply 
beyond all bounds and measures of actual commission, and how 
A'astly it sAvells the sinner's account in an instant. So that a 
man shall, out of the various and even numberless kinds of 
villany acted by all the people and nations round about him, as 
it Avere, extract one mighty, comprehensive guilt, and adopt it 
to himself, and so become chargeable Avith, and accountable for, 
a world of sin Avithout a figure. 

3. The third and last reason that I shall assign, of the extra- 
ordinary guilt attending a man's being disposed to take pleasm'e 
in other men's sins, shall be taken from the soul's preparation 
and passage to such a disposition ; for that it presupposes and 
includes in it the guilt of many preceding sins. For, as it has been 
shown, a man must have passed many periods of sin before he can 
arrive to it ; and have served a long apprenticeship to the devil, 
before he can come to such a perfection and maturity in vice, as 
this imports. It is a collection of a long and numerous train of 
viUanies, the compendium and smn total of several particular 
impieties, all united and cast up into one. It is, as it were, the 
very quintessence and sublimation of vice, by which, as in the 
spirit of liquors, the malignity of many actions is contracted into 
a little compass, but with a greater advantage of strength and 
force, by such a contraction. 

In a word, it is the Avickedness of a Avhole life, discharging all 
its filth and foulness into this one quality, as into a great sink or 

288 DR. souTn's sermons. [^ser.m. xvir. 

common shore. So tliat nothing is, or can be, so properly and 
significantly called the " very sinfulness of sin," as this. And 
therefore no wonder, if containing so many years' guilt in the 
bowels of it, it stands here stigmatized by the apostle, as a temper 
of mind, rendering men so detestably bad, that the great enemy 
of mankind, the devil liimself, neither can nor desires to make 
them worse. I cannot, I need not say any more of it. It is 
indeed a condition not to be thought of, by persons serious enough 
to think and consider, without the utmost horror. But such as 
truly fear God, shall both be kept from it, and from those sins 
that lead to it. 

To Avhich God, infinitely wise, holy, and just, be rendered and 
ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, majesty, and domi- 
nion, both now and for evermore. Amen. 




men's SINS. — Continued. 

Romans i. 32. 

Who knowing the judgment of God, that they lohich commit such 
things are icorthy of death, not only do the same, hut have 
pleasure in them that do theyn. 

The sense of these words I showed, in the preceding dis- 
course, fell naturally into this one proposition : viz. 

That the guilt arising from a man's delighting or taking plea- 
sure in other men's sins, or (which is all one) in other men for 
their sins, is greater than he can possibly contract by a commis- 
sion of the same sins in his own person. 

The prosecution of which I stated upon these three things : 

First, To show what it is that brings a man to such a dispo- 
sition of mind, as to take pleasure in other men's sins. 

Secondly, To show the reasons why a man's being disposed to 
do so, comes to be attended with such an extraordinary guilt. 

Thirdly, and lastly, To declare what kind of persons are to be 
reckoned under this character. 

The first two of which being despatched already, I proceed 
now to the third and last : concerning which, I shall lay down 
tliis general assertion : That whosoever draws others to sin, ought 
to be looked upon as one delighting in those sins that he draws 
them to. Forasmuch as no man is brought to do any thing, 
especially if it be ill or wicked, but in order to the pleasing of 
himself by it : it being absurd and incredible, that any one should 
venture to damn himself hereafter, for that which does not some 
way or other gratify and please him here. But to draw forth 
this general into particulars. 

I. First of all : Those are to be accounted to take pleasure 
in other men's sins, who teach doctrines directly tending to en- 
gage such as believe them, in a sinful course. For there is none 
so compendious and efficacious a way to prepare a man for all sin, 
as this : this being properly to put out the eyes of that which is 
to be his guide, by perverting his judgment ; and when that is 
once done, you may carry him whither you will. Chance must 
be liis rule, and present appetite his director. A man's judginent, 
or conscience, is the great spring of all his actions ; and conse- 
quently, to corrupt or pervert this, is to derive a contagion upon 
all that he does. And therefore we see how high a guilt our 



Saviour charges upon this in Matt. v. 19, "Whosoever shall 
break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, 
shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven :" that is, in 
truth, sliall never come thither. And we find the great sin of 
the Pharisees was, that they promoted and abetted the sins of 
other men, taught the devil's doctrine out of Moses' chair, and 
by false descants upon the divine precepts, cut asunder the bind- 
ing force of them : so that, according to their wretched com- 
ments, men might break the law, and yet never sin against it. 
For, in Matt. xv. 5, 6, they had taught men how to dishonour 
their parents, without any violation of the fifth commandment. 
Thus they preached : and what design can any one imagine the 
authors of such doctrines could have, but the depravation of 
men's manners ! For, if some men teach wicked things, it must 
be that others should practise them. And if one man sets 
another a copy, it is no doubt with a purpose that he should 
write after it. 

Now these doctrines are of two sorts. 

1. Such as represent actions that are in themselves really 
wicked and sinful, as not so. 2. Such as represent them much 
less sinful as to their kind or degrees, than indeed they are. 

For the first of which ; to instance in one very gross one, 
instead of many, take the doctrine of those commonly called 
Antinomians, who assert positively, that believers or persons 
regenerate, and within the covenant of grace, cannot sin. Upon 
which account, no wonder if some very liberally assume to them- 
selves the condition and character of believers : for then they 
know that other mighty privilege belongs to them of course. 
But what ? May not these believers cheat and lie, commit adul- 
teiy, steal, murder, and rebel ? Why, yes, they may ; and nothing 
is more common than to see such believers do such things. But 
how then can they escape the charge of all that guilt that natu- 
rally follows from such enormities ? Why, thus ; you must in this 
case with great care and accuracy distinguish between the act of 
lying and the sin of lying, the act of stealing and the sin of 
stealing, and the act of rebellion and the sin of rebellion. Now, 
though all these acts are frequent and usual with such per- 
sons, yet they are sure (as they order the matter) never to 
be guilty of the sin. And the reason is, because it is not 
the quality of the action that derives a quahfication iqion 
the person, so as to render him such or such, good or bad ; 
but it is the antecedent quality or condition of the person that 
denominates his actions, and stamps them good or evil. So 
that they are those only who are fii'st wicked, that do wicked 
actions. But believers, and the godly, though they do the 
very same things, yet they so much outwit the de^dl in the 
doing of them, that tliey never commit the same sins. But you 
will say, hoAv came they by such a great and strange privilege ? 


Why, they will tell you, it is because tlie}- are not under the 
obliging povrer of the law. And if you ask further, how they 
come to get from under that common obligation that lies so hard 
and heavy upon all the rest of the world ; they will tell you, it 
is from this, that believers instead of the law have the Spirit 
actually dweUing in them, and by an admirable kind of invisible 
clock-work mo^dng them just as a spring does a watch ; and that 
immediately by himself alone, without the mediation of any 
w^ritten law or rule to guide or direct, and much less to command 
or oblige them. So that the Spirit, we see, is to be their sole 
director, without, and very often contrary to the written law. 
An excellent contrivance, doubtless, to authorize and sanctify 
the blackest and most flagitious actions that can proceed from 
man. For since the motions of the Spirit, which they so confi- 
dently suppose themselves to have, cannot so much as in things 
good and laAvful, by any certain diagnostic, be distinguished from 
the motions of a man's own heart, they very easily make a step 
further, and even in things unlawful, conclude the motions of 
their own hearts to be the impulse of the Spirit ; and this pre- 
sently alters the whole complexion of an action, that Avould 
otherwise look but very scurvily ; and makes it absolutely pure 
and unblameable, or rather perfect and meritorious. So that let 
a man have but impudence and wickedness enough to libel his 
Maker, and to entitle the Spirit of God to all that he does or 
desires, surnaming his own inclination and appetites, though 
never so irregular and impure, the Holy Ghost ; and you may, 
upon very sure grounds, turn him loose, and bid him sin if he 
can. And thus much for the first sort of doctrines, Avhich once 
believed, like the flood-gates of hell pulled up, lets in a deluge 
and inundation of all sin and vice upon the lives of men. And 
if this be the natural effect of the doctrines themselves, we can- 
not in all reason but infer, that the interest of the teachers of 
them must needs be agreeable. 

2. The other sort of doctrines tending to engage such as be- 
lieve them in a sinful course, are such as represent many sins 
much less as to their kind or degree, than indeed they are. Of 
which number is that doctrine, that asserts all sins committed by 
behevers, or persons in a state of grace, to be but infirmities. 
That there are such things as sins of infirmity, in contradistinction 
to those of presumption, is a truth not to be questioned ; but in 
hypothesi to state exactly which are sins of infirmity, and Avhich 
are not, is not so easy a work. This is certain, that there is a 
vast diflerence between them; indeed, as vast as between in- 
advertency and deliberation, between surjDrise and set purpose : 
and that persons truly regenerate have sinned this latter way, 
and consequently may sin so again, is as evident as the story 
(already referred to by us) of David's murder and adultery, sins 
acted not only with deliberation, but with artifice, study, and 

u 2 


deep contrivance. And can sins, that carry such dismal marks 
and black symptoms upon them, pass for infinnities ? for sins of 
daily incursion, and such as himian frailty, and the very condition 
of our nature in this world is so unavoidably liable to (for so are 
sins of infirmity), that a " righteous man may fall into them 
seven times in a day ;" and yet, according to the merciful tenor 
of the covenant of grace, stand accepted before God as a righte- 
ous man still ? No, certainly, if such are infirmities, it will be 
hard to assign what are presumptions. And what a sin-encour- 
aging doctrine that is, that avouches them for such, is suffi- 
ciently manifest from hence, that although every sin of infirmity, 
in its own nature, and according to the strict rigour of the law, 
merits eternal death : yet it is certaia from the gospel, that no 
man shall actually suffer eternal death barely for sins of infirmity. 
Which berag so, persuade but a man that a regenerate person 
may cheat, and lie, steal, murder, and rebel, by way of infirmity, 
and at the same time you persuade hmi also, that he may do all 
this without any danger of damnation. And then, smce these 
are oftentimes such desirable privileges to flesh and blood r and 
since withal, every man by nature is so very prone to think the 
best of himself and of his own condition : it is odds, but he will 
find a slu'cwd temptation to believe liimself regenerate, rather 
than forbear a pleasurable or a profitable sin, by thinking that he 
shall go to hell for committing it. Now this being such a direct 
manuduction to all kind of sin, by abusing the conscience with 
undervaluing persuasions concerning the mahgnity and guilt 
even of the foulest ; it is evident, that such as teach and promote 
the belief of such doctrines, are to be looked upon as the devil's 
prophets and apostles ; and there is no doubt, but the guilt of 
every sin, that either from pulpit or from press they influence 
men to the commission of, does as certainly rest upon them, and 
will one day be as severely exacted of them, as if they had 
actually and personally committed it themselves. 

And thus I have instanced in tAvo notable doctrines, that may 
justly be looked upon as the general inlets, or two great gates, 
through which all ^ice and villany rush in upon the manners of 
men professing religion. But the particulars into which these 
generals diffuse themselves, you may look for, and find in those 
well furnished magazines and storehouses of all immorality and 
baseness, the books and writings of some modem casuists ; who, 
like the devil's amanuenses, and secretaries to the prince of dark- 
ness, have published to the world such notions and intrigues 
of sin out of his cabinet, as neither the wit or wickedness of 
man, upon the bare natural stock, either of invention or corrup- 
tion, could ever have found out. The writings, both of the Old 
and New Testament, make it very difficult for a man to be 
saved ; but the writings of these men make it more difficult, if 
not impossible, for any one to be damned : for where there is no 


sin, there can be no damnation. And as these men have ob- 
sciu'ed and confounded the natures and properties of things by 
theii' false principles and wretched sophistry, though an act be 
never so sinful, they will be sure to strip it of its guilt ; and to 
make the very law and rule of action so pliable and bending, 
that it shall be impossible to be broken. So that he Avho goes 
to hell must pass through a narrower gate than that which the 
gosjDel says leads to heaven. For that, we are told, is only 
strait, but this is absolutely shut ; and so shut that sin cannot 
pass it, and therefore it is much if a sinner should. 

So insufferably have these impostors poisoned the fountains of 
morality, perverted and embased the very standard and dis- 
tinguishing rule of good and evil. So that all their books and 
writings are but debauchery upon record, and impiety registered 
and consigned over to posterity. 

In every volume there is a nursery and plantation of vice, 
where it is sure to thrive, and from thence to be transplanted 
into men's practice. For here it is manured with art and argu- 
ment, sheltered with fallacy and distinction, and thereby enabled 
both to annoy others and to defend itself. 

And to show how far the malignity of this way of sinning 
reaches : he, who has vented a pernicious doctrine, or jjublished 
an ill book, must know that his guilt and his life determine not 
together. No, such a one, as the apostle says, " being dead? yet 
sj)eaketh ;" he sins in his very grave, corrupts others while he is 
rotting himself, and has a growing account in the other world, 
after he has paid nature's last debt in this ; and in a word, quits 
this life like a man carried off by the plague ; who, though he 
dies himself, yet does execution upon others by a surviving 

II. Such also are to be reckoned to take pleasure in other 
men's sins, as endeavour by all means to allure men to sin, and 
that either by formal persuasions, importunity, or desire, as we 
find the harlot described, enticing the young man, in Pro v. vii., 
from ver. 13 to 22. Or else by administering objects and occa- 
sions fit to inflame or draw forth a man's corrupt affections ; such 
as are the drinking of a choleric or revengeful person into a fit 
of rage and violence against the person of his neighbour ; thus 
heating one man's blood in order to the shedding of another's. 
Such also is the provoking of a lustful, incontinent person, by 
filthy discourse, wanton books, and pictures; and that which 
equals and exceeds them all, the incentives of the stage ; till a 
man's vice and folly works over all bounds, and grows at length 
too mad and outrageous to be either governed or concealed. 

Now with great variety of such kind of traders for hell as 
these, has the nation of late years abounded. Wretches who live 
upon the shark, and other men's sins, the common poisoners of 
youth, equally desperate in their fortunes and their manners, and 


getting their very bread by the damnation of souls. So that if 
any unexperienced young novice happens into the fatal neigh- 
Ijourhood of such pests, presently they are upon him, plying his 
full purse and his empty pate with addresses suitable to his 
vanity ; telling him, what pity it is, that one so accomplished for 
]>arts and person should smother himself in the country, where 
lie can learn nothing of gallantry or behaviour ; as how to make 
his court, to hector a draw, to cog the dye, or storm a whore- 
house ; but must of necessity live and die ignorant of what it is 
to trepan or be trepanned, to sup, or rather dine at midnight in 
a tavern, with the noise of oaths, blasphemies, and fiddlers about 
his ears, and to fight every watch and constable at his return from 
thence, and to be beaten by them : but must at length, peer 
man ! die didly of old age at home ; when here he might so 
fashionably and genteelly, long before that time, have been duelled 
or fluxed into another world. 

If this be not the guise and practice of the times, especially as 
to the principal cities of the kingdom, let any one judge ; and 
whether for such a poor, deluded wretch, instead of growing- 
rusty in the country, as some call it, to be thus brought by a 
company of indigent, debauched, soul-and-body-destroying har- 
pies, to lose his estate, family, and virtue, amongst them in the 
city, be not a much greater violation of the public weal and 
justice of any government, than most of those crimes that bring 
the committers of them to the gallows, we may at present easily 
see, and one day perhaps sadly feel. 

Nor is this trade of corrupting the gentry and nobility, and 
seasoning theni v\^ith the vices of the great town, as soon as they 
set foot into it, carried on secretly and in a corner, but openly 
and in the face of the sun ; by persons who have formed them- 
selves into companies, or rather corporations. So that a man 
may as easily know where to find one to teach him to debauch, 
whore, game, and blaspheme, as to teach him to write, or cast 
accounts : it is their support and business ; nay, their very pro- 
fession and livelihood ; getting their living by those practices, 
for which they deserve to forfeit their lives. 

Now these are another sort of men, who are justly charged 
with the guilt and character of delighting in other men's sins : 
men who are the devil's setters ; vv' ho cojitrive, study, and beat 
t'leir brains, how to draw iu some poor, innocent, unguarded heir 
into their hellish net, learning his humour, prying into his cii- 
cumstances, and observing his weak side ; and all this to plant the 
snare, and apply the temptation effectually and successfully ; and 
vv'hen by such insinuations they have once got within liim, 
and are able to drill him on from one lewdness to another, by the 
same arts corrupting and squeezing him as they; no 
wonder, if they rejoice to see him guilty of all sorts of villany, 
and take pleasure in those sins in which they find their profit too. 


III. Such as affect the company of infamous and vicious per- 
sons, are also to be reckoned in the number of those who take 
pleasure in such men's vices. For otherwise, what is there in 
such men, which they can pretend to be pleased with ! For 
generally such sots have neither parts nor wits, ingenuity of dis- 
course, nor fineness of conversation, to entertain or delight any 
one, that, coming into their company, brings but his reason along 
with him. But on the contrary, their rude, impertinent loud- 
ness, their quarrels, their nastiness, their dull obscene talk, and 
ribaldry (which from them you must take for wit, or go without 
it), cannot but be nauseous and offensive to any one who docs 
not balk his own reason, out of love to their vice ; and, for the 
sake of the sin itself, pardon the ugliness of its circumstances. 
As a father will hug and embrace his beloved son for all the dirt 
and foulness of his clothes ; the dearness of the person easily 
apologizing for the disagreeableness of the habit. 

One Avould think it should be no easy matter to bring any man 
of sense to love an ale-house ; indeed of so much sense, as seeing 
and smelling amounts to, there being such strong encounters of 
both, as would quickly send him packing, did not the love of 
good fellowship reconcile him to those nuisances, and the deity he 
adored compound for the homeliness of its slurine. 

It is clear therefore, that where a man can like and love the 
conversation of lewd, debauched persons, amidst all the natural 
grounds and motives of loathing and dislike, it can proceed from 
nothing but the inward affection he bears to their lewd, debauched 
humour. It is this he enjoys ; and for the sake of tlris, the rest 
he endures. 

IV. And, lastly, such as encourage, countenance, and sup- 
port men in their sins, are to be reckoned in the number of 
those Avho take pleasure in other men's sins. Now this may be 
done two ways : 

First, By commendation. Concerning which Ave may take 
this for granted ; that no man commends another any further 
than he likes him : for indeed to commend any one is to vouch 
him to the world, to undertake for his worth, and, in a word, 
to own the thing which he is chiefly remarkable for. He who 
Avrites an encomium Neronis, if he does it heartily is himself but 
a transcript of Nero in his mind ; and would, no doubt, gladly 
enough see such pranks, as he was famous for, acted again, 
though he dare not be the actor of them himself. 

From whence we see the reason of some men's giving such 
honourable names and appellations to the worst of men and 
actions, and base, reproachful titles to the best: such as are 
calling fiiction, and a spitting in their priiice's face, pefitiontn(j ; 
fanaticism and schism, true protestantism ; sacrilege and rapine, 
thoroucfli reformation, and the like. As on the contrary, brand- 
ino- conformitv to the rules and rites of the best church in the 


world, with the false and odious name of formality; and tra- 
ducing all religious, conscientious observers of them, as monr/rel 
protestants, and papists in masquerade. And indeed, many are and 
have been called papists of late years, whom those very persons, 
who call them so, know to be far from being so. But what then do 
they mean, by fixing such false characters upon men, even against 
their own consciences ? Why, they mean and design this ; they 
would set such a mark upon those whom they hate, as may cause 
their throats to be cut, and their estates to be seized upon, when 
the rabble shall be let loose upon the government once again ; 
which such beggarly, malicious fellows impatiently hope and 
long for. 

Though I doubt not, how much soever knaves may abuse fools 
with words for a time, but there will come a day, in wliich the 
most active papists will be found under the puritan mask ; in 
which it will appear, that the conventicle has been the Jesuits' 
safest kennel, and the papists themselves, as well as the fanatics, 
have been managers of those monstrous outcries against popery, 
to the ruin of those protestants w^hom they most hate, and whom 
alone they fear. It being no unheard of trick for a tliief, when 
he is closely pursued, to cry out, " Stop the thief," and thereby 
diverting the suspicion from himself, to get clear away. It is 
also worth our while to consider with what terms of respect and 
commendation knaves and sots will speak of their own fraternity. 
As, What an honest, what a worthy man is such a one ! And 
What a good-natured person is another ! According to which 
terms, such as are factious, by worthy men, mean only such as 
are of the same faction, and united in the same designs against 
the o;overnment with themselves. And such as are brothers of 
the pot, by a good-natured person, mean only a true, trusty 
debauchee, who never stands out at a merry-meeting, so long as 
he is able to stand at all ; nor ever refuses a health, while he has 
enough of his own to pledge it with ; and, in a word, is as honest, 
as drunkenness and debauchery, want of sense and reason, virtue 
and sobriety, can possibly make him. 

Secondly, The other way by which some men encourage others 
in their sins is by preferment. As, when men shall be advanced 
to places of trust and honour for those qualities that render them 
unworthy of so much as sober and civil company. When a lord 
or master shall cast his favours and rewards upon such beasts and 
l)lemishes of society, as live only to the dishonour of Ilim who 
made them, and the reproach of Him who maintains them. 
None certainly can love to see vice in power, but such as love to 
see it also in practice. Place and honour do of all things most 
misbecome it ; and a goat or a swine in a chair of state, cannot 
be more odious than ridicidous. 

It is reported of Ca3sar, that passing through a certain town, 
and seeing all the woman of it standing at their doors with 


monkeys in their arms, he asked, whether the woman of that 
country used to have any children or no? Thereby wittily and 
sarcastically reproaching them, for misplacing that affection upon 
brutes, which could only become a mother to her child. So, 
when we come into a great family or government, and see tliis 
place of honour allotted to a murderer, another filled Avith an 
atheist or blasphemer, and a tliird with a filthy parasite, may we 
not as appositely and properly ask the question, whether there be 
any such thing as virtue, sobriety, or rehgion amongst such a 
people, with whom vice wears those rewards, honours, and privi- 
leges, which in other nations, the common judgment of reason 
awards only to the virtuous, the sober, and religious ? And cer- 
tainly it is too flagrant a demonstration, how much vice is the 
darling of any people, when many amongst them are preferred 
for those practices, for which, in other places, they can scarce be 

And thus I have finished the third and last general thing pro- 
posed, for the handling of the words, which was, to show the 
several sorts or kinds of men, which fall under the charge and 
character of taking pleasure in other men's sins. 

Now the inferences from the foregoing particulars shall be 

1. Such as concern particular persons ; and, 2. Such as con- 
cern communities or bodies of men. 

And first for the malignity of such a disposition of mind, as 
induces a man to delight in other men's sins, with reference to 
the effects of it upon particular persons. As, 

(1.) It quite alters and depraves the natural frame of a man's 
heart. For there is that naturally in the heart of man, which 
abhors sin, as sin ; and consequently would make him detest it 
both in himself and in others too. The first and most genuine 
principles of reason are certainly averse to it, and find a secret 
grief and remorse from every invasion that sin makes upon a 
man's innocence ; and that must needs render the first entrance 
and admission of sin uneasy, because disagreeable. Yet time, 
Ave see, and custom of sinning, can bring a man to such a pass, 
that it shall be more difficult and grievous to him to part Avith 
his sin, than ever it Avas to him to admit it. It shall get so far 
into, and lodge itself so deep within his heart, that it shall be his 
business and his recreation, his companion, and his other self; and 
the very dividing betAveen his flesh and his bones, or rather, be- 
tween his body and liis soul, shall be less terrible and afflictive to 
liim, than to be taken off^ from his vice. 

Nevertheless, as unnatural as this effect of sin is, there is one 
yet more so : for that innate principle of self-love, that very 
easily and often blinds a man, as to any impartial reflection upon 
himself ; yet for the most part leaves his eyes open enough to 
judge truly of the same thing in his neighbour, and to hate that 


in others, which he allows and clierishes in himself. And there- 
fore, when it shall come to this, that he also approves, embraces, 
and delights in sin, as he observes it, even in the jDerson and 
practice of other men ; this shows, that the man is wholly trans- 
formed from the creature that God first made him ; nay, that he 
has consumed those poor remainders of good that the sin of Adam 
left him ; that he has worn off the very remote dispositions and 
possibilities to virtue ; and, in a word, turned grace first, and 
afterward nature itself, out of doors. No man knows at his 
first entrance upon any sin, how far it may carry him, and where 
it will stop ; the commission of sin being generally like the pour- 
ing out of water, which, when once poured out, knows no other 
bounds, but to run as far as it can. 

(2.) A second effect of tliis disposition of mind is, that it pecu- 
liarly indisposes a man to repent and recover himself from it. 
For the first step to repentance is a man's dislike of liis sin ; and 
how can we expect that a man should conceive any thorough 
dislike of that Avhich has taken such an absolute possession of his 
heart and aifections, that he likes and loves it, not only in his own 
practice, but also in other men's ? Nay, that he is pleased with it, 
though he is past the practice of it. Such a temper of mind is a 
downright contradiction to repentance ; as being founded in the 
destruction of those qualities which are the only chspositions and 
preparatives to it. For that natural tenderness of conscience, 
^vhich must first create in the soul a sense of sin, and from thence 
produce a sorrow for it, and at length cause a relinquishment of 
it ; that, I say, we have already shown, is taken away by a cus- 
tomary repeated course of sinning against conscience. So that 
the very first foundation of virtue, which is the natural power of 
distinguishing between the moral good and evil of any action, is, 
in effect, plucked up and destroyed, and the Spirit of God finds 
nothing in the heart of such a one to apply the means of grace 
to ; all taste, relish, and discernment of the suitableness of virtue, 
and the unsuitableness of vice, being utterly gone from it. 

And as this is a direct bar to that part of repentance, wliich 
looks back with sorrow and indignation upon what is past ; so is 
it equally such, to that greater part of repentance, which is to 
look forward, and to prevent sin for the future. For this jiro- 
perly delivers a man up to sin ; forasmuch as it leaves his heart 
destitute of all those principles which should resist it. So that 
such a one must be as bad as the devil will have him, and can be 
no better than the devil will let him. In both he must submit 
to his measures. And what is this but a kind of entrance into, 
or rather an anticipation of hell ? What is it but judgment and 
damnation already begun ? For a man, in such a case, is as sure 
of it, as if he were actually in the flames. 

(3.) A third effect of this disposition of mind, which also natu- 
rally follows from the former, is, that the longer a man_ lives the 


wickeder he grows, and his last days are certainly his worst. It 
has been observed, that to delight in other men's sins, was most 
properly the vice of old age ; and we shall also find that it may 
be as truly and properly called the old age of vice. For, as first, 
old age necessarily implies a man's having lived so many years 
before it comes upon him; and withal, this sort of viciousness 
supposes the precedent commission of many sins, by which a 
man arrives to it ; so it has this further property of old age : 
that, as when a man comes once to be old, he never retreats, but 
still goes on, and grows every day older and older ; so when a 
man comes once to such a degree of wickedness, as to delight in 
the Avickedness of other men, it is more than ten thousand to one 
odds, if he ever returns to a better mind, but grows every day 
worse and worse. For he has notliing else to take up his 
thoughts, and nothing to entertain his desires with ; wlaich, by a 
long estrangement from ])etter things, come at length perfectly to 
loatire and fly off from them. 

A notable instance of which we have in Tiberius Ca3sar, Avho 
was bad enough in his youth, but superlatively and monstrously 
so in his old age : and the reason of this was, because he took a 
particular pleasure in seeing other men do vile and odious tilings. 
So that all his diversion at his beloved Caprero was to be a spec- 
tator of the devil's actors, representing the worst of vices upon 
that infamous stage. 

And therefore let not men flatter themselves, as no doubt 
some do, that though they find it diflicult at present to combat 
and stand out against an ill practice, and upon that account give 
way to a continuance in it ; yet that old age shall do that for 
them, which they in their youth could never find in their heart 
{o do for themselves ; I say, let not such persons mock and 
abuse themselves with such false and absurd presumptions. For 
they must know, that a habit may continue when it is no longer 
able to act ; or rather the elicit, internal acts of it may be quick 
and vigorous, when the external, imperate acts of the same habit 
utterly cease : and let men but reflect upon their own observa- 
tion, and consider impartially with themselves, how few in the 
world they have known made better by age. Generally they 
will see, that such leave not their vice, but their vice leaves 
them, or rather retreats from their practices, and retires into 
their fancy ; and that, we know, is boundless and infinite : and 
Avhen vice has once settled itself there, it finds a vaster and a 
Avider compass to act in than ever it had before. I scarce knoAV 
any tiling that calls for a more serious consideration from us 
than this : for still men are apt to persuade themselves, that they 
shall find it an easy matter to groAV virtuous as they groAV old. 
But it is a Avay of arguing highly irrational and fallacious. For 
this is a maxim of eternal truth, that nothing groAvs Aveak Avith 
aore, but that Avhich Avill at Icntitli die Avith ao:e ; A\hicli sin never 

300 DR. SOUTH's sermons. {]sERM. XVIII. 

does. The longer a blot continues the deeper it sinks. And it 
will be found a work of no small difficulty to dispossess and 
throw out a vice from that heart, where long possession begins 
to plead prescrij)tion. It is naturally impossible for an old man 
to grow young again ; and it is next to impossible for a decrepit 
aged sinner to become a new creature, and be born again, 

(4.) And lastly. We need no other argument of the malign 
effects of this disposition of mind, than this one consideration ; 
that many perish eternally who never arrived to such a pitch of 
wickedness as to take any pleasure in, or indeed to be at all 
concerned about, the sins of other men. But they perish in the 
pursuit of their own lusts, and the obedience they personally 
yield to their own sinful appetites : and that questionless, very 
often not without a considerable mixture of inward dislike of 
themselves for what they do : yet for all that, their sin, we see, 
proving too hard for them, the overpowering stream carries 
them away, and down they sink into the bottomless pit, though 
under the weight of a guilt, by vast degrees inferior to that 
which we have been discoursing of. For doubtless, many men 
are finally lost, who yet have no men's sins to answer for but 
their own ; who never enticed nor perverted others to sin, and 
much less applauded or encouraged them in their sin : but only 
being slaves to their own corrupt affections, have lived and died 
under the killing power of them, and so passed to a sad eternity. 

But that other devilish way of sinning, hitherto spoken of, is 
so far beyond tliis, that this is a kind of innocence, or rather a 
kind of charity, compared to it. For this is a solitary, single ; 
that a complicated, multiplied guilt. And, indeed, if we con- 
sider at what a rate some men sin now-a-days; that man sins 
charitably who damns nobody but himself. But the other sort 
of sinners, who may properly enough be said to people hell, and, 
in a very ill sense, to " bear the sins of many ;" as they have 
a guilt made up of many guilts, so what can they reasonably 
expect, but a damnation equivalent to many damnations ? 

And thus much for the first general inference, from the fore- 
going discourse, showipg the malignity of such a disposition of 
mind as induces a man to delight in other men's sins, with 
reference to particular persons. 

2. The other inference shall be with reference to communities 
or bodies of men ; and so such a disposition has a most direct 
iind efficacious influence to propagate, multiply, and spread the 
practice of any sin, till it becomes general and national. For 
this is most certain, that some men's taking pleasure in other 
men's sins, will cause many men to sin to do them a pleasure ; 
and this will appear upon these thi*ee accounts. 1. That it is 
seldom or never that any man comes to such a degree of impiety, 
as to take pleasure in other men's sins, but he also shows the 
World, by his actions and behavioiu", that he does so. 2. That 


there are few men in the world so inconsiderable, but there are 
some or other, who have an interest to serve by them. And, 
3. Tliat the natural course that one man takes to serve his in- 
terest by another is, by applying himself to him in such a way 
as may most gratify and delight him. 

Now from these three things put together, it is not only easy 
but necessary to infer, that since the generality of men are 
wholly acted by their present interest, if they find those who can 
best serve them in this their interest, most likely also to be gained 
over so to do by the sinful and vile practices of those who address 
to them ; no doubt such practices shall be pursued by such per- 
sons, in order to the compassing their desired ends. Where 
greatness takes no delight in goodness, we may be sure, there 
shall be but little goodness seen in the lives of those who have an 
interest to serve by such a one's greatness. For take any illus- 
trious potent sinner, whose power is wholly employed to serve 
his pleasure, and whose chief pleasure is to see others as bad and 
wicked as himself; and there is no question, but in a little time 
he will also make them so ; and his dependants shall quickly be- 
come his proselytes. They shall sacrifice their virtue to liis hu- 
mour, spend their credit and good name, nay, and their very souls 
too, to serve him ; and that by the worst and basest of services, 
which is, by making themselves like him. It is but too notorious, 
how long vice has reigned, or rather raged, amongst us ; and with 
what a bare face and a brazen forehead it walks about the nation 
as it were, elato capite, and looking down with scorn upon virtue 
as a contemjDtible and a mean thing. Vice could not come to 
this pitch by chance. But we have sinned apace, and at a higher 
strain of villany than the fops our ancestors (as some are pleased 
to call them) could ever arrive to. So that Ave daily see maturity 
and age in vice joined with youth and greenness of years. A 
manifest argument, no doubt, of the great docility and pregnancy 
of parts, that is in the present age, above all the former. 

For in respect of vice, nothing is more usual now-a-days, than 
for boys illico nasci se7ies. They see their betters delight in ill 
things : they observe reputation and countenance to attend the 
practice of them ; and this carries them on furiously to that, 
which of themselves they are but too much inclined to ; and which 
laws were purposely made by wise men to keep them from. They 
are glad, you may be sure, to please and prefer themselves at 
once, and to serve their interest and their sensuality together. 

And as they are come to this height and rampancy of vice, in 
a great measure, from the countenance of their betters and su- 
periors ; so they have taken some steps higher in the same from 
this, that the follies or extravagancies of the young too frequently 
carry with them the suffrage and approbation of the old. For 
age, which naturally and unavoidably is but one remove from 
death, and consequently should have nothing about it, but what 


looks like a decent preparation for it, scarce ever appears of late 
days but in the high mode, the flaunting garb, and utmost gau- 
dery of youth; with clothes as ridiculous, and as much in the 
fashion, as the jjerson that wears them is usually grown out of it. 
The eldest equal the youngest in the vanity of their dress, and 
no other reason can be given of it, but that they equal, if not 
surpass, them in the vanity of their desires. So that those who 
by the majesty, and, as I may so say, the prerogative of their 
age, should even frown youth into sobriety and better manners, 
are now striving all they can, to imitate and strike in with them, 
and to be really vicious, that they may be thought to be young. 

The sad and apparent truth of which makes it very superflu- 
ous to inquire after any further cause of that monstrous increase 
of vice, that like a torrent, or rather a breaking of the sea upon 
us, has of late years overflowed, and victoriously carried away 
all before it. Both the honourable and the aged have contributed 
all they could to the promotion of it ; and, so far as they are able, 
to give the best colour to the worst of things. This they have 
endeavoured, and thus much they have eftected, that men noAv 
see that vice makes them acceptable to those who are able to 
make them considerable. It is the key that lets them into their 
very heart, and enables them to command all that is there. And 
if this be the price of favour, and the market of honour, no 
doubt, where the trade is so quick, and withal so certain, multi- 
tudes Avill be sure to follow it. 

This is too manifestly our present case. All men see it ; and 
wise and good men lament it : and where vice, pushed on with 
such mighty advantages, will stop its progress, it is hard to judge. 
It is certainly above all human remedies to control the prevailing 
course of it ; unless the great Governor of the world, who quells 
the rage and swelling of the sea, and sets bars and doors to it, 
beyond which the proudest of its waves cannot pass, shall, in his 
infinite compassion to us, do the same to that ocean of vice, 
wliich now swells and roars, and lifts up itself above all banks 
and bounds of human laws ; and so, by his omnipotent word, re- 
ducing its power, and abasing its pride, shall at length say to it, 
" Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further." Which God in 
his good time effect. 

To whom be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, 
might, majesty, and dominion, both now and for evermore. 




[Preached before the University, at Christ Church, Oxon, November 2, 1690,] 

Romans l 20, latter part. 
— So that they are without excuse. 

This excellent epistle, though in the front of it it bears a par- 
ticular inscription, yet, in the drift and purpose of it, is universal : 
as designing to convince all mankind, whom it supposes in pur- 
suit of true happiness, of the necessity of seeking for it in the 
gospel, and the impossibility of finding it elsewhere. All with- 
out the church, at that time, were comprehended under the divi- 
sion of Jews and Gentiles, called here by the apostle Greeks ; the 
nobler and more noted part being used for the whole. Accord- 
ingly, from the second chapter, down along, he addresses himself 
to the Jews, showing the insufficiency of their law to justify, or 
make them happy, how much soever they doated upon it. But 
here, in this first chapter, he deals with the Greeks, or gentiles, 
who sought for, and promised themselves the same happiness 
from the dictates of right reason, which the Jews did from the 
Mosaic law. Where, after he had taken an account of what their 
bare reason had taught them in the things of God, and compared 
the superstructure with the foundation, their practice with their 
knowledge, he finds them so far from arriving at the happiness 
which they aspired to by this means, that upon a full survey of 
the whole matter, the result of all comes to tliis sad and deplor- 
able issue, that they were sinful and miserable, and that without 
excuse. In the words, taken with the coherence of the precedent 
and subsequent verses, we have these four things considerable. 

I. The sin here followed upon a certain sort of men, with this 
so severe a judgment ; namely, that " knowing God, they did not 
glorify him as God," ver. 22. 

II. The persons guilty of this sin ; they were " such as pro- 
fessed themselves wise," ver. 22. 

III. The cause or reason of their falling into this sin ; which 
Avas their "holding the truth in unrighteousness," ver. 18. And, 

IV. And lastly. The judgment, or rather the state and condi- 
tion penally consequent upon these sinners ; namely, " that they 
were without excuse," ver. 20. 

Of each of wliich in their order. And first, for the first 
of them. 


_ The sin here followed with so severe a judgment, and so highly 
aggravated and condemned by the apostle, is, }>y the united testi- 
mony of most divines upon this place, the sin of idolatry : which 
the apostle affirms to consist in this ; tliat the gentiles glorified not 
God, as God. Which general charge he also draws forth into 
particulars: as, that they "changed his glory into the simihtude 
and images of men, and beasts, and birds ;" where, by glory, he 
means God's worship ; to wit, that by which men glorify him, 
and not the essential glory of his nature ; it being such a glory 
as was in men's povf er to change and to debase ; and therefore 
must needs consist, either in those actions, or those means, which 
they performed the divine worship by. I know no place, from 
which we may more clearly gather what the scripture accounts 
idolatry, than from this chapter. From whence, that I may 
represent to you what idolatry is, and wherein one sort of it, at 
least, does consist, you may observe, that the persons who are 
here charged with it, are positively affirmed to have known and 
acknowledged the true God. For it is said of them, that they 
knew his eternal power and Godhead, in this 20th verse ; nay, 
and they worshipped liim too. From whence tliis undeniably and 
invincibly follows, that they did not look upon those images, 
which they addressed to, as gods, nor as things in Avhich the 
divine nature did or could enclose itself; nor, consequently, to 
which they gave, or ultimately designed their religious worsliip. 
Tliis conclusion therefore I infer, and assert ; that idolatry is not 
only an accounting or worshipping that for God, which is not 
God, but it is also a worshipping the true God in a way wholly 
unsuitable to his nature ; and particularly, by the mediation of 
images and corporeal resemblances of him. This is idolatry : for 
the persons here sj)oken of pretended to glorify the true God, 
but they did not glorify him as God, and upon that account 
stand arraigned for idolaters. Common sense and experience 
will and must evince the truth of this : for, can any one imagine, 
that men of reason, who had their senses quick, and their wits 
and discourse entire, could take that image or statue, which they 
fell down before, to be a God? Could they think that to be 
infinite and immense, the ubiquity of which they could thrust 
into a corner of their closet ? Or could they conceive that to be 
eternal, which a few days befoi'e they had seen a log, or a rude 
trunk, and perhaps the other piece of it a joint-stool in the work- 
man's shop ? 

The ground and reason of all worship is, an opinion of power and 
will in the person worshipped to answer and supply our desires ; 

which he cannot possibly do, unless he first apprehend them. But 
can any man, who is master of sense himself, believe the rational 
heathens so void of it, as to think that those images could fulfil 

the petitions which they could not hear, pity the Avants they 

could not see, do all things when they could not stir a hand or a 


foot ? It is impossible they should ; but it is also certain that 
they were idolaters. 

And therefore it is clear that their idolatry consisted in some- 
thing else, and the history of it would demonstrate so much, were 
it pi'oper to turn a sermon into a history. So that we see here, 
that the sin condemned in the text, was the worshipping of the 
true God by images. For the defence of Avhich, there is no 
doubt but they might have pleaded, and did plead, for those 
images, that they used them not as objects, but only as means 
and instruments of divine worship, not as what they worshipped, 
but as that by which they directed their worship to God. 
Though still, metliinks it is something hard to conceive, that 
none of the worship should fall upon the image by the way, 
or that the water can be conveyed into the sea without so much 
as wetting the channel through which it passes. But however 
you see it requires a very distinguishing head, and even hand, 
and no small skill in directing the intention, to carry a prayer 
quite through to its journey's end. Though, after all, the mis- 
chief of it is, that the distinction, which looks so fine in the 
theory, generally miscarries in the practice ; especially where the 
ignorant vulgar are the practisers, who are the worst in the 
world at distinguishing, but yet make far the greatest part of 
mankind, and are as much concerned and obliged to pray, as the 
wisest and the best ; but withal, infinitely unhappy, if they can- 
not pei'form a necessary duty without school distinctions, nor beg 
their daily bread without metaphysics. And thus much for the 
first thing proposed ; namely, the sin here spoken against by the 
apostle in the text, which was idolatry. 

11. The second is the persons charged with this sin. And 
they were not the Gnostics, as some whimsically imagine, who 
can never meet with the words yivwaKovre^, yivooaKuv, yvoJaig, 
or yv(i}(TTov, but presently the Gnostics must be drawn in by the 
head and shoulders ; but the persons here meant, were plainly 
and manifestly the old heathen philosophers ; such as not only in 
the apostle's, but also in their own phrase, " professed themselves 
to be wise." Their great title was ao(poi, and the word of 
applause still given to their lectures, was (ro^wg. And Pythagoras 
was the first who abated of the invidiousness of the name, and 
from <TO(j)og, brought it down to ^iXocro^ocj from a master to a 
lover of wisdom, from a professor to a candidate. 

These were the men here intended by St. Paul ; men famous 
in their respective ages ; the great favourites of nature, and the 
top and masterpiece of art ; men whose aspiring intellectuals had 
raised them above the common level, and made them higher by 
the head than the world round about them. Men of a polite 
reason, and a notion refined and enlarged by meditation. Such, 
as with all these advantages of parts and study, had been toiling 

VOL. I. X 


and plodding many years, to outwit and deceive themselves ; sat 
up many nights, and spent many days, to impose a fallacy upon 
their reason ; and, in a word, ran the round of all the arts and 
sciences, to arrive at length at a glorious and elaborate folly ; 
even these, I say, these grandees and giants in knowledge, who 
thus looked down, as it Avere, upon the rest of mankind, and 
laughed at all besides themselves, as barbarous and insignificant, 
— as quick and sagacious as they were, to look into the little in- 
tricacies of matter and motion, which a man might salva scientia, 
or at least, salva anima, ignorare, yet blundered and stumbled 
about their grand and principal concern, the knoAvledge of their 
duty to God, sinking into the meanest and most ridiculous 
instances of idolatry ; even so far as to worship the great God 
under the form of " beasts and creeping things ;" to adore eternity 
and immensity in a brute, or a plant, or some viler thing ; bow- 
ing down in their adoration to such things, as they would scarce 
otherwise have bowed down to take up : nay, and to rear tem- 
ples and make altars to fear, lust, and revenge ; there being 
scarce a corrupt passion of the mind, or a distemjoer of the body, 
but what they worshipped. So that it could not be expected, 
that they should ever repent of those sins which tliey thought fit 
to deify, nor mortify those corrupt affections to which they 
ascribed a kind of divinity and immortality. By all wliich, they 
fell into a greater absurdity in matter of practice, than ever 
any one of them did in point of opinion (which yet certainly 
was very hard), namely, that having confessed a God, and 
allowed him the perfections of a God, to wit, an infinite power 
and an eternal Godhead, they yet denied him the worship of 
God. Thus reversing the great truths they had subscribed to in 
speculation, by a brutish, senseless devotion, managed with a 
greater prostration of reason than of body. 

Had the poor vulgar rout only, who were held under the pre- 
judices and prepossessions of education, been abused into such 
idolatrous superstitions, as to adore a marble or a golden deity, it 
might have been detested indeed, or jiitied, but not so much to 
be wondered at : but for the stoa, the academy, or the peripaton 
to own such a paradox; for an Aristotle, or a Plato, to tliink 
their Nowc ai^iog, their Eternal Mind, or Universal Spirit, to be 
found in, or severed by the images of four-footed beasts ; for the 
Stagirite to recognize liis gods in his own book de Animalibus ; 
this, as the apostle says, was " without excuse ;" and how will 
these men answer for their sins, who stand thus condemned for 
their devotions ? And thus from the persons here charged by the 
apostles with the sin of idolatry, pass we now to the 

III. Thing proposed ; namely. The cause or reason of their 
falling into this sin ; and that was their holding of the truth in 
unrighteousness. For the making out of which, we must inquire 
into these two things. 


1. A^^iat was the truth here spoken of. 

2. How they held it in unrighteousness. 

For the first of them ; there were these six great truths, the 
knowledge of which the Gentile philosophers stood accountable 
for : as, 

1. That there was a God ; a being distinct from this visible, 
material world; infinitely perfect, omniscient, omnipotent, eternal, 
trauscendently good and holy : for all this is included in the very 
notion of a God. And this was a truth written with a sunbeam, 
clear and legible to all mankind, and received by universal 

2. That this God was the maker and governor of this visible 
world. The first of which was evident from the very order of 
causes ; the great argument by which natural reason evinces a 
God. It being necessary in such an order or chain of causes, to 
ascend to, and terminate in some first ; which should be the 
original of motion, and the cause of all other things, but itself be 
caxised by none. And then, that God also governed the world, 
this followed from the other ; for that a creature should not 
depend upon its creator in all respects, in which it is capable of 
depending upon him (amongst which, to be governed by him is 
certainly one), is contrary to the common order and nature of 
things, and those essential relations w^iich, by virtue thereof, 
they bear to one another ; and consequently absurd and impos- 
sible. So that upon a bare principle of reason, creation mvist 
needs infer providence ; and God's making the w^orld, irrefragably 
proves that he governs it too ; or that a Being of a dependent 
nature remains nevertheless independent upon him in that 
respect. Besides all which, it is also certain, that the heathens 
did actually acknowledge the world governed by a Supreme 
Mind ; which knowledge, whether they had it from tradition 
or the discourses of reason, they stood however equally account- 
able for upon either account. 

3. That this God, or Supreme Being, was to be worshipped. 
For this was founded upon liis omnipotence and his providence. 
Since he, who could preserve or destroy as he pleased, and withal 
governed the world, ought surely to be depended upon by those 
who were thus obnoxious to his power, and subject to his govern- 
ment ; which dependence could not manifest itself but by acts of 
worship, homage, and address to the person thus depended upon. 

4. That tliis God was to be worshipped, or addressed to, by 
virtuous and pious practices. For so much liis essential holiness 
required, and those innate notions of turpe et honestum, written 
in the consciences of all men, and joined with the apprehensions 
they had of the infinite purity of the divine nature, could not 
but suggest. 

5. That upon any deviation from virtue and piety, it was 
the duty of every rational creature so deviating, to condemn, 

X 2 

308 'dr. souths sermons. Qserm. xix. 

renounce, and be soiTy for every such deviation : that is, in other 
words, to repent of it. What indeed the issue or effect of such 
a repentance might be, bare reason coukl not of itself discover ; 
but that a peccant creature should disapprove and repent of every 
violation of, and declination from the rules of just and honest, 
this, right reason, discoursing upon the stock of its own princi- 
ples, could not but infer. And the conscience of eveiy man, 
before it is debauched and hardened by habitual sin, will recoil 
after the doing of an evil action, and acquit him after a good. 

6. And lastly. That every such deviation from duty rendered 
the person so deviating liable and obnoxious to punishment. I 
do not say, that it made punishment necessary, but that it made 
the person so transgressing worthy of it : so that it might justly 
be inflicted on him, and consequently ought rationally to be 
feai'cd and expected by him. And upon this notion, u^niversally 
fixed in the minds of men, were grounded all their sacrifices, and 
rites of expiation and lustration. The use of which has been 
so general, both as to times and places, that there is no age or 
nation of the woi'ld in which they have not been used as princi- 
pal parts of religious worship. 

Now these six grand truths were the talent entrusted and de- 
posited by God in the hands of the Gentiles for them to traffic 
with, to his honour and their own happiness. But what little 
improvement they made of this noble talent, shall now be shown 
in the next particular : namely, the holding of it in unrighteous- 
ness : which they did several ways. As, 

1. By not acting up to what they knew. As in many things 
their knowledge was short of the truth, so almost in all things, 
their practice fell short of their knowledge. The principles by 
which they Avalked, were as much below those by which they 
judged, as their feet were below their head. By the one they 
looked upwards, while they placed the other in the dirt. Their 
writings sufficiently show what raised and sublime notions they 
had of the divine nature, while they employed their reason about 
that glorious object, and what excellent discourses of virtue and 
morality the same reason enabled them to furnish the world Avith. 
But when they came to transcribe these theories into practice, 
one seemed to be of no other use to them all, but only to re- 
proach them for the other. For they neither depended upon this 
God as if he were almighty, nor worshipped him as if they be- 
lieved him holy ; but in both prevaricated with their own princi- 
ples to that degree, that their practice was a direct contradiction 
to their speculations. For the proof of wliich, go over all the 
heathen temples, and take a survey of the absurdities and impie- 
ties of their worship, their monstrous sacrifices, their ridiculous 
rites and ceremonies. In all which, common sense and reason 
could not but tell them, that the good and gracious God could 
not be pleased, nor consequently worshipped, Avith any thing bar- 


barous or cruel ; nor the most holy God with any thing filthy and 
unclean; nor a God infinitely wise with any thing sottish or 
ridiculous ; and yet these were the worthy qualifications of the 
heathen worsliip, even amongst their greatest and most reputed 

And then, for the duties of morality ; surely they never 
wanted so much knowledge as to inform and convince them of 
the unlawfulness of a man's being a murdei'ei", a hater of God, 
a covenant-breaker, without natural afl'ection, implacable, un- 
merciful. These were enormities branded and condemned by 
the first and most natural verdict of common humanity ; and so 
very gross and foul, that no man could pretend ignorance that 
they ought to be avoided by him. And yet the apostle tells us 
in the last verse of this chapter, that they practised so much short 
of their knowledge, even as to these particulars, that "though 
they knew tlie judgment of God, that those who committed such 
things were worthy of death ; yet not only did the same them- 
selves, but also had pleasure in those that did them." Which cer- 
tainly is the greatest demonstration of a mind wholly possessed 
and even besotted with the love of vice, that can possibly be 
imagined. So notoriously did these wretches balk the judgment 
of their consciences, even in the plainest and most undenialjle 
duties relating to God, their neighbour, and themselves ; as if 
they had owned neither God nor neighbour, but^themselves. 

2. These men held the truth in unrighteousness, by not im- 
proving those known principles into the proper consequences de- 
ducible from them. For surely, had they discoursed rightly but 
upon this one principle, that God was a being infinitely perfect, 
they could never have been brought to assert or own a multipli- 
city of gods. For can one god include in him all perfection, 
and another god include in him all perfection too ? Can there be 
any more than all ? and if this all be in one, can it be also in 
another ? Or, if they allot and parcel out several perfections to 
several deities, do they not, by this, assert contradictions, making 
a deity only to such a measure perfect ; whereas a deity, as such, 
implies perfection beyond all measure or limitation ? Nor could 
they, in the next place, have slid into those brutish immoralities 
of life, had they duly manured those first practical notions and 
dictates of right reason which the nature of man is originally 
furnished with ; there being not any one of them, but what is 
naturally productive of many more. But they quickly stifled 
and overlaid those infant principles, those seeds of piety and 
virtue, sown by God and nature in their own hearts ; so that they 
brought a voluntary darkness and stupidity upon their minds ; 
and, by not " exercisir,g their senses to discern between good and 
evil," came at length to lose all sense and discernment of either. 
Whereupon, as the apostle says of them in the 21st vei'se of this 
chapter to the Romans, "their foolish heart was darkened:" 

310 DR. SOUXn's SERMONS. [^SERjr. XIX. 

and tliat, not only by the just judgment of God, but also by the 
very course of nature; nothing being more evident from ex- 
perience, than that the not using or employing any faculty or 
power, either of body or soul, does insensibly weaken and impair 
that faculty ; as a sword by long lying still will contract a rust, 
which shall not only deface its brightness, but by degrees also 
consume its very substance. Doing nothing naturally ends in 
being nothing. 

It holds in all operative principles whatsoever, but especially 
in such as relate to morality ; in which not to proceed is certainly 
to go backward ; there being no third estate between not ad- 
vancing and retreating in a virtuous course. Growth is of the 
very essence and nature of some things. To be, and to thrive, 
is all one with them ; and they know no middle season between 
their spring and their fall. 

And therefore, as it is said in Matt. xiii. 12, that "from him 
who hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath :" so 
he who neglects the practice, shall, in the end also, lose the 
very power and faculty of doing well. That which stops a man's 
actual breatliing very long, will, in the issue, take away his very 
power of breathing too. To hide one's talent in the ground is 
to bury it ; and the burial of a thing either finds it dead, or will 
quickly make it so. 

3. These men held the truth in unrighteousness, by conceal- 
ing what they knew. For how rightly soever they might con- 
ceive of God and of virtue, yet the illiterate multitude, who in 
such things must see with better eyes than their own, or see not 
at all, were never the wiser for it. Whatsoever the inward sen- 
timents of those sophisters were, they kept them wholly to them- 
selves ; hiding all those important truths, all those useful notions 
from the peojile, and teaching the world much otherwise from 
what they judged themselves. Though I think a greater truth 
than this cannot well be uttered ; that never any tiling or person 
Avas really good, which was good only to itself. But from hence 
it was, that, even in a literal sense, sin came to be established by 
a law. For amongst the Gentiles, the laws themselves were the 
greatest offenders. They made little or no provision for virtue, 
but very much for vice. For the early and universal practice of 
sin had turned it into a custom, and custom, especially in sin, 
quickly passed into common law. 

Socrates was the only martyr for the testimony of any truth that 
we read of amongst the heathens ; who chose rather to be con- 
demned, and to die, than either to renounce or conceal his judg- 
ment touching the unity of the Godhead. But as for the rest of 
them, even Zeno and Chrysippus, Plato and Aristotle, and gene- 
rally all those heroes in philosophy, they swam Avith the stream, 
as foul as it ran, leaving the poor vulgar as ignorant and sottish, 
as vicious and idolatrous, as thev first found them. 


But it has been always the practice of the governing cheats of 
all religions, to keep the people in as gross ignorance as possibly 
they could ; for we see the heathen impostors vised it before the 
Christian impostors took it up and improved it. *S'/ popidus 
clecijn viilt, decipiatur, was ever a gold and silver rule amongst 
them all ; though the pope's legate first turned it into a benedic- 
tion : and a very strange one it was, and enough, one would 
think, to have made all that heard it look about them, and begin 
to bless themselves. For as Demetrius, a great master in such 
arts, told liis fellow artists, Acts xix. 25, " it was by this craft 
that they got their wealth :" so, long expei'ience has found it true 
of the untliinking mobile, that the closer they shut their eyes, 
the wider they open their hands. But tliis base trade the church 
of England always abhorred ; and for that cause as to its tem- 
poral advantages, has fared accordingly ; and, by this time, may 
be thought fit for another reformation. 

And thus I have shown three notable ways, by which the 
philosophers and learned men amongst the Gentiles held the 
truth in unrighteousness : as 1st, That they did not practise up 
to it ; 2dly, That they did not improve it ; and 3dly, and lastly. 
That they concealed and dissembled it. And this was that 
which prepared and disposed them to greater enormities: for, 
" changing the truth of God into a lie," they became like those, 
who, by often repeating a he to others, come at length to believe 
it themselves. They owned the idolatrous worship of God so 
long, till, by degrees, even in spite of reason and nature, they 
thought that he ought so to be worshipped. But this stopped 
not here : for, as one wickedness is naturally a step and intro- 
duction to another ; so, from absurd and senseless devotions, they 
passed into vile affections, practising vices against nature, and 
that in such strange and abominable instances of sin, that nothing 
could equal the corruption of their manners, but the dekision of 
their judgments ; both of them the true and proper causes of 
one another. 

The consideration of which, one would think, should make 
men cautious and fearful, how they suppress or debauch that spark 
of natural light which God has set up in their souls. When 
natm-e is in the dark, it will venture to do any thing. And God 
knows how far the spirit of infatuation may prevail upon the 
heart, when it comes once to court and love a delusion. Some 
men hug an error because it gratifies them in a freer enjoyment 
of their sensuality : and for that reason, God in judgment suffers 
them to be plunged into fouler and grosser errors ; such as even 
unman and strip them of the very principles of reason and sober 
discourse. For surely, it could be no ordinary declension of 
nature that could bring some men, after an ingenious education 
in arts and philosophy, to place their summum honum upon tlieir 
trenchers, and their utmost felicity in Avine and women, and 

312 DR. SOUTh's SER5I0NS. [|sERM. XIX. 

those lusts and pleasures, which a swine or a goat has as full and 
quick a sense of, as the greatest statesman or the best philo- 
sopher in the world. 

Yet tl\is was the custom, this the known voice of most of the 
Gentiles : Dum vivimus vivamus ; " Let us eat and drink to-day, 
for to-morroAv we must die." That soul Avliich God had o;iven 
them comprehensive of both worlds, and capable of looking into 
the great mysteries of nature, of cUving into the depths beneath, 
and of understanding the motions, and influences of the stars 
above ; even this glorious active thing did they confine within 
the pitiful compass of the present fruition ; forbidding it to take 
a prosjject so far as into the morrow ; as if to think, to contem- 
plate, or be serious, had been high treason against the empire 
and prerogative of sense, usurping the throne of their baffled and 
dejx)sed reason. 

And how comes it to pass, that even now-a-days there Is often 
seen such a vast difference between the former and the latter 
part of some men's lives ? that those, who first stepped forth 
into the world with high and promising abilities, vigorous intel- 
lectuals, and clear morals, come at length to become sots and epi- 
cures, mean in their discourses, and dirty in their practices ; but 
that, as by degrees, they remitted of their industry, loathed their 
business, and gave way to their pleasures, they let fall those 
generous principles which in their youtliful days had borne them 
upon the wing, and raised them to worthy and great thoughts ; 
which thoughts and principles not being kept up and cherished, 
but smothered in sensual delights, God for that cause suffered 
them to flag and sink into low and inglorious satisfactions, and to 
enjoy themselves more in a revel or a merry-meeting, a strumpet 
or a tavern, than in being useful to a church or a nation, in being 
a public good to society, and a benefit to mankind. The parts 
that God gave them, they held in unrighteousness, sloth, and 
sensuality ; and this made God to desert and abandon them to 
themselves; so that they have had a doating and a decrepit 
reason, long before age had given them such a body. 

And therefore I could heartily wish, that such young persons 
as hear me now, would lodge tliis one observation deep in their 
minds, viz. that God and nature have joined wisdom and virtue 
by such a near cognation, or rather such an inseparable con- 
nexion, that a wise, a prudent, and an honourable old age, is 
seldom or never found, but as the reward and effect of a sober, 
a virtuous, and a well-sj^ent youth. 

IV. I descend now to the fourth and last thing proposed; 
namely, the judgment, or rather the state and condition penally 
consequent upon the persons here charged by the apostle with 
idolatry ; which is that thei/ were without excuse. 

After the commission of sin, it is natural for the sinner to 


apprehend himself in danger, and, upon such apprehension, to 
provide for his safety and defence : and that must be one of these 
two ways ; viz. either by pleading liis innocence, or by using his 
power. But since it would be infinitely in vain for a finite power 
to contend with an infinite ; innocence, if any thing, must be his 
plea : and that must be either by an absolute denial, or at least 
by an extenuation or diminution of his sin. Though indeed this 
course will be found altogether as absurd as the other could be ; 
it being every whit as irrational for a sinner to plead his inno- 
cence before Omniscience, as it would be to oppose his power to 
Omnipotence. However, the last refuge of a guilty person, is to 
take refuge under an excuse, and so to mitigate, if he cannot 
divert the blow. It was the method of the great pattern and 
parent of all sinners, Adam, first to hide, and then to excuse 
himself; to wrap the apple in the leaves, and to give his case a 
gloss at least, though not a defence. Bjit now, when the sinner 
shall be stripped of this also, have all liis excuses blown away, 
be stabbed Avith his own arguments, and, as it Avere, sacrificed 
upon that very altar which he fled to for succour; this, surely, 
is the height and crisis of a forlorn condition. Yet this was the 
case of the malefactors who stand here arraigned in the text ; this 
was the consummation of their doom, that they were persons, 
not only unfit for a pardon, but even for a plea. 

Now an excuse, in the nature of it, imports these two things : 
1. The supposition of a sin. 2. The extenuation of its guilt. 

As for the sin itself, we have already heard what that was, 
and we will noAv see hoAV able they are to acquit themselves in 
point of its extenuation. In Avhich, according to the tAvo grand 
principles of human actions Avhich determine their morality, the 
understanding and the Avill, the excuse must derive either from 
ignorance or unAviUingness. 

As for unwillingness (to speak of this last first), the heathen 
philosophers generally asserted the freedom of the will, and its in- 
violable dominion over its OAvn actions ; so that no force or coac- 
tion from without could intrench upon the absolute empire of 
this faculty. 

It must be confessed indeed, that it has been something lamed 
in this its freedom by original sin ; of Avhich defect the heathens 
themseh^es Avere not Avholly ignorant, though they were of its 
cause. So that hereupon, the Avill is not able to carry a man 
out to a choice so perfectly and in all respects good, but that 
still there is some adherent circumstance of imperfection, Avhich, 
in strictness of morality, renders every action of it evil : accord- 
ing to that known and most true rule. Malum ex quolibet defectu. 

Nevertheless, the Avill has still so much freedom left, as to 
enable it to choose any act in its kind good, Avhether it be an act 
of temperance, justice, or the like : as also to refuse any act in its 
kind CA^il, Avhether of intemperance, injustice, or the like : though 

314 DR. SOUTH's sermons. []sERM. XIX. 

yet it neither chooses one, nor refuses the other, with such a per- 
fect concurrence of all due ingredients of action, but that still in 
the sight of God, judging according to the rigid measures of the 
law, every such choice or refusal is indeed sinful and imperfect. 
This is most certain, whatsoever Pelagius and his brethren assert 
to the contrary. 

But however, that measure of freedom which the will still re- 
tains, of being able to choose any act, materially, and in its kind 
good, and to refuse the contrary, was enough to cut off all excuse 
from the heathen, who never duly improved the utmost of svich 
a power, but gave themselves up to all the lilthiness and licen- 
tiousness of life imaginable. In all which it is certain, that 
they acted willingly, and without compulsion; or rather indeed 
greedily, and without control. 

The only persons amongst the heathens who sophisticated 
nature and philosophy in this particular, were the Stoics ; who 
affirmed a fatal, unchangeable concatenation of causes, reaching 
even to the elicit acts of a man's will ; so that, according to them, 
there was no act of volition exerted by it ; but all circumstances 
considered, it was impossible for the will not to exert that voli- 
tion. Yet these were but one sect of philosophers ; that is, but 
a handful in comparison of the rest of the gentiles : ridiculous 
enough for what they held and taught, and consequently not to 
be laid in the balance Avith the united judgment of all other 
learned men in the world, unanimously exploding this opinion. 
Questionless therefore, a thing so deeply engraven upon the first 
and most inward notions of man's mind, as a persuasion of the 
will's freedom, would never permit the heathens who are here 
charged by the apostle, to patronize and excuse their sins upon 
this score, that they committed them against their will, and that 
they had no power to do otherwise. In which, every hour's 
experience, and reflection upon the method of their own actings, 
could not but give them the lie to their face. 

The only remaining plea therefore, which these men can take 
sanctuary in, must be that of ignorance ; since there could be no 
pretence for unwillingness. But the apostle divests them even of 
this also ; for he says expressly, in ver. 1 9, that " what might be 
known of God," that famous and so much disputed of to yvfoarov 
Tov Qeov, was "manifested in them;" and in ver. 21, their inex- 
cusableness is stated upon the supposition of this very thing, 
" that they knew God," but for all that, " did not glorify him as 
God." This was the sum of their charge ; and how it has been 
made good against them, we have already shown, in what we have 
spoken about their idolatry, very briefly, I confess ; but enough 
to show its absurdity, though not to account for its variety, when 
Vossius's very abridgment of it makes a thick volume in folio. 

The plea of ignorance therefore is also taken out of their liands ; 
forasmuch as thev Ivnew that there was a God, and that tliis God 


made and governed the world ; and upon that account was to be 
worshipped and addressed to, and that with such a worship as 
should be agreeable to his nature ; both in respect of the piety 
and virtue of the worshipper, and also of the means of the wor- 
ship itself. So that he was neither to be worshipped with im- 
pious and immoral practices, nor with corporeal resemblances. 
For how could an image help men in directing their thoughts to a 
being, which bore no similitude or cognation to that image at all ? 
And what resemblance could wood or stone bear to a spirit void 
of all sensible qualities and bodily dimensions ? How could they 
put men in mind of infinite power, wisdom, and holiness, and 
such other attributes, of which they had not the least mark or 
character ? 

But now, if these things coxdd not possibly resemble any per- 
fection of the Deity, what use could they be of to men in their 
addresses to God ? For can a man's devotions be helped by that 
wliich brings an error upon his thoughts ? And certain it is, that 
it is natural for a man, by directing his prayers to an image, to 
sujjpose the being he prays to represented by that image. Which 
how injurious, how contumelious it must needs be to the glorious 
incomprehensible nature of God, by begetting such false and low 
apprehensions of him in the minds of his creatures, let common 
sense, not perverted by interest and design, be judge. From all 
which it follows, that the idolatrous heathens, and especially the 
most learned of them, not being able to charge their idolatry 
either upon ignorance or unwillingness, Avere wholly "without 
excuse." So that it is to be feared, that Averroes had not the 
right way of blessing himself, when, in defiance of Christianity, 
he wished. Sit anhna mea cum philosojjhis. 

And now, after all, I cannot but take notice, that all that I 
have said of the heathen idolatry is so exactly applicable to the 
idolatry of another sort of men in the world, that one would 
think this first chapter of the epistle to the Romans were not so 
much an address to the ancient Romans, as a description of the 

But to draw towards a close. The use and improvement of 
the foregoing discourse shall be briefly to inform us of these two 

1. The signally great and peculiar mercy of God to those to 
whom he has revealed the gospel, since there was nothing that 
could have obliged him to it upon the account of his justice ; for 
if there had, the heathens, to whom he revealed it not, could not 
have been thus without excuse ; but might very rationally have 
expostulated the case with their great judge, and demurred to the 
equity of the sentence, had they been condemned by him. But 
it appears from hence, that what was sufiicient to render men in- 
excusable, was not therefore sufficient to save them. 

It is not said by the a])ostle, nor can it be })roved by any one 


else, that God vouchsafed to the heathens the means of salvation, 
if so be the gospel be the only means of it. And yet I will not, 
I dare not affirm, that God will save none of those to whom the 
somid of the gospel never reached : though this is evident, that 
if he does save any of them, it must not be by that ordinary, 
stated, appointed method, which the scripture has revealed to us, 
and which they were wholly ignorant of. For grant, that the 
heathens knew that there was a God, who both made and gov- 
erned the world ; and who, upon that account, was to be wor- 
shipped, and that with such a worship as should be suitable to 
such a being; yet what principle of mere reason could assure 
them, that this God would be a rewarder of such as diligently 
sought and served him ? For certain it is, that there is notliing in 
the nature of God to oblige liim to reward any service of his 
creature ; forasmuch as all the creature can do is but duty ; and 
even now, at this time, God has no other obligation upon him, 
but his own free promise to reward the piety and obedience of 
his servants ; which promise reason of itself could never have 
found out, till God made it known by revelation. And moreover, 
what principle of reason could assure a man that God would par- 
don sinners upon any terms whatsoever ? Possibly it might know, 
that God could do so ; but tliis was no sufficient ground for men 
to depend upon. And then, last of all, as for the way of his 
pardoning sinners, that he should do it upon a satisfaction paid to 
his justice, by such a Sa-\dour, as should be both God and man ; 
this was utterly impossible for all the reason of mankind to find 

For that these things covild be read in the book of nature, or 
the common works of God's providence, or be learned by the sun 
and moon's preaching the gospel, as some have fondly (not to say 
profanely) enough asserted, it is infinitely sottish to imagine, and 
can indeed be nothing else but the turning the grace of God into 
wantoli, and unreasonable propositions. 

It is clear therefore, that the heathens had no knoAvledge of that 
way by which alone we expect salvation. So that all the hope 
which we can have for them is, that the gospel may not be the 
utmost limit of the divine mercy ; but that the merit of Christ 
may overflow and run over the jjale of the church, so as to reach 
even many of those who lived and died invincibly ignorant 
of him. 

But whether this shall be so or no, God alone knows, who only 
is privy to the great counsels of his own will. It is a secret hid 
from us ; and therefore, though we may hope compassionately, 
yet I am sure Ave can pronounce nothing certainly ; it is enough 
for us, that God has asserted his justice, even in liis dealing with 
those whom he treats not upon terms of evangelical mercy. So 
that such persons can neither excuse themselves, nor yet accuse 
him : who, in the severest sentence that he can pronounce upon 


the sinner, will, as the psalmist tells iis, " be justificcl when he 
speaks, and clear when he is judged." 

2. In the next place, Ave gather hence the unspeakably 
wretched and deplorable condition of obstinate sinners under the 
gospel. The sun of mercy has shined too long and too bright 
upon such, to leave them any shadow of excuse. For let them 
argue over all the topics of divine goodness and human weak- 
ness, and whatsoever other pretences poor, sinking sinners are 
apt to catch at, to support and save themselves by ; yet how 
trifling must be their plea ! how impertinent their defence ! 

For admit an impenitent heathen to plead, that, albeit his con- 
science told him that he had sinned, yet it could not tell him that 
there was any provision of mercy for him upon his repentance. 
He knew not whether amendment of life would be accepted after 
the law was once broken ; or that there was any other righteous- 
ness to atone or merit for him but his own. 

But no Christian, who has been taken into the arms of a 
• better covenant, and grovrn up in the knowledge of a Saviour, 
and the doctrine of faith and repentance from dead works, can 
speak so much as one plausible word for his impenitence. And 
therefore it was said of him who came to the marriage feast with- 
out a wedding gannent, that, being charged and apprehended for 
it, e(j)ifxu)Or], "he was speechless," struck with shame and silence, 
the proper effects of an overpowering guilt, too manifest to be 
denied, and too gross to be defended. His reason deserted, and 
his voice failed him, finding himself arraigned, convicted, and 
condemned in the court of his own conscience. 

So that if, after all tliis, his great Judge had freely asked him 
what he could allege or say for himself, why he should not have 
judgment to die eternally, and sentence to be awarded according 
to the utmost rigour of the law, he could not, in this forlorn case, 
have made use of the very last plea of a cast criminal ; nor so 
much as have cried, " Mercy, Lord, mercy." For still his con- 
science would have replied upon him, that mercy had been offered 
and abused ; and that the time of mercy was now past. And so, 
under this overwhelming conviction, every gospel sinner must 
pass to his eternal execution, taking the Avhole load of his own 
damnation solely and entirely upon himself, and acquitting the 
most just God, " who is righteous in all his works, and holy in 
all his ways." 

To whom, therefore, be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, 
all praise, might, majesty, and dominion, both now and for ever- 
more. Amen. 





[Preached at Westminster Abbey, April 8, 1688, being Palm Sunday.] 

IVIatt. XXII. 12. 

And he saith unto him, Friend, hoio earnest thou in hither, not 
having a wedding garment ? 

The whole scheme of these words is figurative^ as being a 
parabolical description of God's vouchsafing to the world the 
invaluable blessing of the gospel, by the similitude of a king, 
with great magnificence solemnizing his son's marriage, and with 
equal bounty bidding and inviting aU about him to that royal 
solemnity : together with his severe animadversion, both ujion 
those who would not come, and upon one who did come in a very 
unbeseeming manner. 

For the better understanding of which words, we must ob- 
serve, that in all parables, two things are to be considered. 

First, The scope and design of the parable ; and, 

Secondly, The circumstantial passages serving only to complete 
and make up the narration. 

Accordingly, in our application of any parable to the thing 
designed and set forth by it, we must not look for an abso- 
lute and exact correspondence of all the circumstantial or sub- 
servient passages of the metaphorical part of it, with just so 
many of the same, or the like passages in the thing intended by 
it ; but it is sufficient that there be a certain analogy, or agree- 
ment between them, as to the principal scope and design of both. 

As for the design of this parable, it is, no doubt, to set forth 
the free offer of the gospel, with all its -rich privileges, to the 
Jewish church and nation in the first place ; and, upon their 
refusal of it, and God's rejection of them for that refusal, to 
declare the calling of the gentiles in their room, by a free, un- 
limited tender of the gospel to all nations whatsoever ; adding 
withal, a very dreadful and severe sentence upon those who, 
being so freely invited and so generously admitted to such high 
and undeserved privileges, should nevertheless abuse and despise 
them by an unworthy, wicked, and ungrateful deportment under 

Fgr men must not think that the gospel is all made up of pri- 
vilege and promise, but that there is something of duty to be 
performed, as well as of privilege to be enjoyed. No welcome 


to a wedding supper, without a wedding ganiient ; and no coming 
by a wedding garment for nothing. In all the transactions be- 
tween God and the souls of men, something is expected on both 
sides ; there being a fixed, indissoluble, and (in the language of 
the pai-able) a kind of marriage tie between duty and privilege, 
which renders them inseparable. 

Now, though I question not, but that this parable of the 
wedding comprehends in it the whole complex of all the bless- 
ings and privileges exhibited by the gospel ; yet I conceive, that 
there is one principal privilege amongst all the rest, that it seems 
more peculiarly to aim at, or at least may more appositely and 
emphatically be applied to, than to any other whatsoever. And 
that is the blessed sacrament of the eucharist, by Avhich all the 
benefits of the gospel are in a higher, fuller, and more divine 
manner conveyed to the faithful, than by any other duty or pri- 
vilege belonging to our excellent religion. And for tliis, I shall 
offer these three following reasons. 

1. Because the foundation of all parables is, as we have shown, 
some analogy or similitude between the tropical or allusive part 
of the parable, and the thing couched under it, and intended by 
it. But now, of all the benefits, pri\ileges, or ordinances of the 
gospel, which of them is there that carries so natural a resem- 
blance to a wedding supper as that, which every one of a very 
ordinary discerning faculty may observe in the sacrament of the 
eucharist ? For surely, neither the preaching of the word, nor 
yet the sacrament of baptism, bears any such resemblance or 
afiinity to it. But on the other side this sacrament of the 
eucharist so lively resembles, and so happily falls in with it, that 
it is indeed itself a supper, and is called a supper, and that by a 
genuine, proper, as well as a common, and received appellation. 

2. This sacrament is not only with great propriety of speech 
called a supper ; but moreover, as it is the grand and prime 
means of the nearest and most intimate union and conjunction of 
the soul with Christ, it may, with a peculiar significancy, be 
called also a wedding supper. And, as Clirist frequently in 
scripture owns himself related to the church, as a husband to a 
spouse ; so, if these nuptial endearments, by which Christ gives 
himself to the soul, and the soul mutually gives itself to Christ, 
pass between Christ and believers in any ordinance of the gospel, 
doubtless it is most eminently and effectually in this. Which is 
another pregnant instance of the notable resemblance between 
this divine sacrament, and the wedding supper in the parable ; 
and, consequently, a further argument of the elegant and expres- 
sive signification of one by the other. 

3. And lastly. The very manner of celebrating this sacrament, 
which is by the breaking of bread, was the way and manner of 
transacting marriages in some of the eastern countries. Thus 
Q. Curtius reports, that when Alexander the Great married the 

320 DR. SOUTh's sermons. [[sERM. XX. 

Persian Roxana, the ceremony they used Avas no other but this ; 
panem gladio divisum uterque libabat ; he divided a piece of bread 
with his sword, of which each of them took a part, and so there- 
by the nujDtial rites were performed. Besides that this ceremony 
of feasting belongs most properly both to marriage and to the 
eucharist, as both of them have the nature of a covenant. And 
all covenants were, in old times,' solemnized and accompanied 
with festival eating and drinking ; the persons newly confederate, 
always thereupon feasting together in token of their full and 
perfect accord, both as to interest and affection. 

And now these three considerations together, so exactly suit- 
ing the parable of the wedding supper to this spiritual, divine 
banquet of the gospel, if it does not primarily, and in its first de- 
sign intend it : yet certainly it may, with greater advantage of 
resemblance, be applied to it, than to any other duty or privilege 
belonging to Christianity. 

Upon the warrant of which so very particular and extraordi- 
nary a cognation between them, I shall at present treat of the 
words wholly with reference to this sacred and divine solemnity, 
observing and gathering from them, as they lie in coherence with 
the foregoing and following parts of the parable, these two pro- 

I. That to a worthy participation of the holy mysteries and 
great privileges of the gospel, and particularly that of the Lord's 
supper, there is indispensably required a suitable preparation. 

II. That God is a strict observer of, and a severe animad- 
verter upon, such as presume to partake of those mysteries, with- 
out such a preparation. 

I. For the first of these, \t.z. That to a worthy ■participation 
of the holy mysteries and great privileges of the gospel, and •particu- 
larly that of the Lord's supper, there is indispensably required a 
suitable preparation. 

Now this proposition imports in it two things, 

1. That to a right discharge of this duty, a preparation is ne- 
cessary. 2. That every preparation is not sufficient. And first 
for the 

First of these. That a preparation is necessary. And this, I 
confess, is a subject which I am heartily sorry that any preacher 
should find it needful to sj^eak so much as one word upon. For 
would any man in his wits venture to die without preparation ? 
And if not, let me tell you, that nothing less than that which 
will fit a man for death, can fit him for the sacrament. The truth 
is, there is nothing great or considerable in the world which 
ought to be done or ventured upon without preparation : but, 
above all, how dangerous, sottish, and irrational is it, to engage 
in any thing or action extempore, where the concern is eternity ! 

None but the careless and the confident (and few are confident 


but what are first careless) would rush rudely Iiito the presence 
of a great man : and shall we, in our applications to the great 
God, take that to be rehgion, which the common reason of man- 
kind will not allow to be manners ? The very rules of worldly 
civility might instruct men how to order their addresses to God. 
For who, that is to appear before his prince or patron, would not 
view and re\dew himself over and over, with all imaginable care 
and solicitude, that there be nothing justly offensive in his habit, 
language, or behaviour ? But especially, if he be vouchsafed the 
honour of his table, it would be infinitely more absurd and 
shameful to appear foul and sordid there ; and in the dress of 
the kitchen, receive the entertainments of the parlour. 

Wliat pre^dous cleansings and consecrations, and what peculiar 
vestments were the priests, under the law, enjoined to use, when 
they were to appear before God in the sanctuary ! And all this 
upon no less a penalty than death. This and this they Avere to do, 
" lest they died," lest God should strike them dead upon the spot : 
as we read in Lev. viii. 35, and in many other places in the 
books of Moses. And so exact were the Jews in their prepara- 
tions for the solemn times of God's worsliip, that every o-aj3)3arov 
had its 7rpoa-aj3j3arov or irapaaKtvij, that is a part of the sixth day, 
from the hour of six in the evening, to fit them for the duties of 
the seventh day. Nor was this all ; but they had also a TrpoTrapa- 
c7Kevi], beginning about three in the afternoon, to prepare them for 
that : and indeed the whole day was, in a manner, but preparative 
to the next ; several works being disallowed and forborn amongst 
them on that day, which were not so upon any of the foregoing 
five: so careful, even to scrupulosity, were they to keep their 
sabbath with due reverence and devotion, that they must not 
only have a tune to prepare them for that, but a further time 
also to j)repare them for their very preparations. 

Nay, and the heathens, many of them at least, when they 
were to sacrifice to their greatest and most revered deities, used 
on the evening before to have a certain preparative rite or cere- 
mony, called by them coena pura ; that is, a supper, consisting 
of some peculiar meats, in which they imagined a kind of holi- 
ness ; and by eating of which, they thought themselves sanctified, 
and fitted to officiate about the mysteries of the ensuing festival. 
And what were all their lustrations, but so many solemn purify- 
ings, to render both themselves and their sacrifices acceptable to 
their gods ? 

So that we see here a concurrence both of the Jews and hea- 
thens in this practice, before Christianity ever appeared : which 
to me is a kind of demonstration, that the necessity of men's 
preparing themselves for the sacred offices of religion, was a 
lesson wliich the mere light and dictates of common reason, 
without the help of revelation, taught all the knowing and in- 
telligent part of the world. 

VOL, r. Y 

322 DR, south's sermons. [|serm, XX. 

" I will wash my hands in innocency," says David, " and so 
will I compass tliine altar," Psalm xxvi. 6. And as the apostle 
told the Hebrews, Heb. xiii. 10, " we also," we Christians, " have 
an altar" as well as they ; an altar as sacred, an altar to be ap- 
proached with as much awe and reverence ; and though there be 
no fire upon it, yet there is a dreadful one that follows it. A 
fire that does not indeed consume the offering ; but such a one as 
will be sure to seize and prey upon the unworthy offerer. " I 
will be sanctified," says God, " in them that come nigh me," Lev. 
X. 3. And God then accounts liimself sanctified in such persons, 
when they sanctify themselves. Nadab and Abihu were a dread- 
ful exposition of this text. 

And for what concerns ourselves ; he that shall thoroughly 
consider what the heart of man is, what sin and the world is, 
and what it is to approve one's self to an all-searching eye, in so 
sublime a duty as the sacrament, must acknowledge that a man 
may as well go about it without a soul, as without preparation. 

For the holiest man living, by conversing with the world, in- 
sensibly draws sometliing of soil and taint from it: the very air 
and mien, the way and business of the world, still, as it were, 
rubbing something upon the soul, which must be fetched off 
again, before it can be able heartily to converse with God. 
Many secret indispositions, coldnesses, and aversions to duty, will 
undiscernibly steal upon it : and it will require both time and 
close application of mind, to recover it to such a frame as shaU 
dispose and fit it for the spirituaHties of religion. 

And such as have made trial, find it neither so easy, nor so 
ready a passage from the noise, the din, and hurry of business, 
to the retirements of devotion, from the exchange to the closet, 
and from the freedoms of conversation, to the recollections and 
disciplines of the spirit. 

The Jews, as soon as they came from markets, or any other 
such promiscuous resorts, would be sure to use accurate and 
more than ordinary washings. And had their Avashings soaked 
through the l)ody into the soul; and had not their inside 
reproached their outside, I see nothing in this custom but what 
was allowable enough, and, in a people which needed washing so 
much, very commendable. Nevertheless, whatsoever it might 
have in it peculiar to the genius of that nation, the spiritual use 
and improvement of it, I am sure, may very well reach the best 
of us. So that if the Jews thought tliis practice requisite before 
they sat down to their own tables, let us Christians think it ab- 
solutely necessary, when we come to God's table, not to eat till 
we have washed. And when I have said so, I suppose I need 
not add, that our washing is to be like our eating, both of them 
spiritual ; that we are to carry it from the hand to the heart, to 
improve a ceremonial nicety into a substantial duty, and the 
modes of civility into the realities of religion. 


And thus much for the first thing, that a preparation in 
general is necessary. But then, 2. The other thing imported 
in the proposition is, that every preparation is not sufficient. It 
must be a suitable preparation ; none but a " wedding garment" 
will serve the turn ; a garment as much fitted to the solemnity, 
as to the body itself that wears it. 

Now all fitness lies in a particular commensuration or propor- 
tion of one tiling to another ; and that such a one as is founded 
in the very nature of things themselves, and not in the opinions 
of men concerning them. And for this cause it is that. the soul, 
no less than the body, must have its several distinct postures 
and dispositions, fitting it for several distinct offices and per- 
formances. And as no man comes with folded arms to fight or 
wrestle, nor prepares himself for the battle as he would compose 
himself to sleep ; so, upon a true estimate of things, it will be 
fovmd every whit as absurd and irrational, for a man to discharge 
the most extraordinary duty of his religion at the rate of an 
. ordinarj^ devotion. For this is reaUy a paradox in practice, and 
men may sometimes do, as well as speak, contradictions. 

There is a great festival now drawing on ; a festival designed 
cliiefly for the acts of a joyful piety, but generally made only an 
occasion of bravery. I shall say no more of it at present but 
this ; that God expects from men something more than ordinary 
at such times, and that it were much to be wished, for the credit 
of their religion, as well as the satisfaction of their consciences, 
that their Easter devotions would, in some measure, come up to 
their Easter dress. 

Now that our preparation may answer the important work 
and duty which we are to engage in, these two conditions or 
qualifications are required in it. 1. That it be habitual. 2. That 
it be also actual. 

For it is certain, that there may both be acts which proceed 
not from any pre-existing habits ; and on the other side, habits, 
wliich lie for a time dormant, and do not at all exert themselves 
in action. But in the case now before us, there must be con- 
junction of both ; and one without the other can never be effec- 
tual for that purpose, for which both together are but sufficient. 

First, For habitual preparation. This consists in a standing, 
permanent habit or principle of holiness, wrought chiefly by 
God's Spirit, and instrumentally by his word, in the heart or soul 
of man. Such a principle as is called, both by our Saviour and 
his apostles, the new birth, the new man, the immortal seed, and 
the like ; and by which a man is so universally changed and 
transformed, in the whole frame and temper of his soul, as to 
have a new judgment and sense of things, new desires, new ap- 
petites, and inclinations. 

And this is first produced in him by that mighty spiritual 

Y 2 


cliange which we call conversion : which being so rarely and 
seldom found in the hearts of men, even where it is most pre- 
tended to, is but too full and sad a demonstration of the truth of 
that terrible saying, that " few are chosen ;" and consequently, 
but few saved. For who almost is there, of whom we can with 
any rational assurance, or perhaps so much as likelihood, affirm. 
Here is a man whose nature is renewed, whose heart is changed, 
and the stream of whose appetites is so turned, that he does 
with as high and quick a relish taste the ways of duty, holiness, 
and strict living, as others, or as he himself before this, gasped 
at the most enamouring proposals of sin ? Who almost, I say, 
is there, who can reach and verify the height of tliis character ? 
and yet without which, the scripture absolutely affirms, that a 
man " cannot see the kingdom of God," John iii. 3. For let 
preachers say and suggest what they will, men will do as they 
use to do ; and cvistom generally is too hard for conscience, in 
spite of all its convictions. Possibly sometimes in hearing or 
reading the word, the conscience may be alarmed, the affections 
warmed, good desires begin to kindle, and to form themselves 
into some dem-ees of resolution ; but the heart remainino- all the 
time unchanged, as soon as men slide into the common course 
and converse of the world, all those resolutions and convictions 
quickly cool and languish, and after a few days are dismissed as 
troublesome companions. But assuredly, no man was ever made 
a true convert, or a " new creature," at so easy a rate ; sin was 
never dispossessed, nor holiness introduced, by such feeble, 
vanishing impressions. Nothing under a thorough change will 
suffice ; neither tears nor trouble of mind, neither good desires 
nor intentions, nor yet the relinquishment of some sins, nor the 
performance of some good works, will avail any tiling, " but a 
new creature :" a word that comprehends more in it than Avords 
can well express ; and, perhaps, after all that can be said of it, 
never thoroughly to be understood by Avhat a man hears from 
others, but by what he must feel Avithin himself. 

And now, that this is required as the ground-work of all our 
preparations for the sacrament, is evident from hence ; because 
this sacrament is not first designed to make us holy, but rather 
su2:)poses us to be so; it is not a converting, but a confirming 
ordinance : it is properly our spiritual food. And, as all food 
presupposes a principle of life in him who receives it, which life 
is, by this means, to be continued and supported ; so the sacra- 
ment of the Lord's supper is oi-iginally intended to preserve and 
maintain |:hat spiritual life which we do or should receive in 
baptism, or at least by a thorough conversion after it. Upon which 
account, according to the true nature and intent of this sacrament, 
men should not expect life, but growth from it ; and see that 
there be something to be fed, before they seek out for provision. 
For the truth is, for any one who is not " passed from death to 


life," and has not in him that new living principle, which we have 
been hitherto speaking of, to come to this s^iiritnal repast, is 
upon the matter as absurd and preposterous, as if he who makes 
a feast should send to the graves and the churchyards for guests, 
or entertain and treat a corpse at a banquet. 

Let men therefore consider, before thej come hither, whether 
they have any thing besides the name they recei-s^ed in Ijaptism 
to prove their Christianity by. Let them consider whether, as 
by their baptism they formerly washed away their original guilt, 
so they have not since, by their actual sins, washed away their 
baptism. And if so, whether the converting grace of God has 
set them upon their legs again, by forming in them a new nature : 
and that such a one as exerts and shows itself by the sure, infal- 
lible effects of a good life ; such a one as enables them to reject 
and trample upon all the alluring offers of tlie world, the flesh, 
and the devil, so as not to be conquered or enslaved by them ; 
and to choose the hard and rugged patlis of duty, rather than the 
easy and voluptuous ways of sin : which eveiy Christian, by the 
very nature of his religion, as well as by his baptismal vow, is 
strictly obliged to do. And if, upon an impartial survey of 
themselves, men find that no such change has passed upon them, 
either let them prove that they may be Christians upon easier 
terms, or have a care how they intrude upon so great and holy 
an ordinance, in which God is so seldom mocked, but it is to the 
mocker's confusion. And thus much for habitual preparation. 
But, ' 

2. Over and above this, there is required also an actual pre- 
paration ; which is, as it were, the furbishing or rubbing up of 
the former habitual princijjle. 

We have both of them excellently described in Matt, xxv., in 
the parable of the ten virgins ; of which the five wise are said to 
have had oil in their lamps ; yet, notwithstanding that, midnight 
and weariness were too hard for them, and they all slumbered 
and slept, and their lamps cast but a dim and a feeble light till 
the bridegroom's approach ; but then, upon the first alarm of that, 
they quickly " rose, and trimmed their lamps," and Avithout 
either trimming or painting themselves, being as much too wise, 
as some should be too old for such follies, they presently put 
themselves into a readiness to receive their surprising guest. 
Where, by their having oil in their lamps, no doubt, must be 
understood a principle of grace infused into their hearts, or the 
new nature formed within them ; and by their trimming their 
lamps, must be meant their actual exercise and improvement of 
that standing principle in the particular instances of duty, suitable 
and appropriate to the gi*and solemnity of the bridegroom's 
reception. In like manner, Avlien a man comes to this sacrament, 
it is not enough that he has an habitual stock of grace, that he 
has the immortal seed of a living faith sown in his heart. This 

32G DR. SOUTH's sermons. QsERM. XX. 

indeed is necessary, but not suflfieient ; his faith must be not only 
living, but lively too ; it must be brightened and stu'red up, and, 
as it were, put into a posture by a particular exercise of those 
several virtues that are specifically requisite to a due performance 
of this duty. Habitual grace is the life, and actual grace the 
beauty and ornament of the soul : and therefore, let people in 
this high and great concern be but so just to their souls, as, in 
one much less, they never fail to be to their bodies ; in which the 
greatest advantages of natural beauty make none think the 
further advantage of a decent dress superfluous. 

Nor is it at all strange, if we look into the reason of things, 
that a man habitually good and pious, should, at some certain 
turns and times of his life, be at a loss how to exert the highest 
acts of that habitual principle. For no creature is perfect and 
pure act; especially a creature so compounded of soul and body, 
that body seems much the stronger part in the composition. 

Common experience shows that the wisest of men are not 
always fit and disposed to act wisely, nor the most admired- 
speakers to speak eloquently and exactly. They have indeed an 
acquired, standing ability of wisdom and eloquence within them, 
which gives them an habitual sufficiency for such performances. 
But for all that, if the deepest statesman should presume to go 
to a council immediately from his cups, or the ablest preacher 
think hmiself fitted to preach only by stepping up to the pulpit ; 
notwithstanding the policy of the one, and the eloquence of the 
other, they may chance to get the just character of bold fools for 
venturing, whatsoever good fortune may bring them oflT. 

And therefore the most active powers and faculties of the 
mind require something beside themselves to raise them to the 
full height of their natural activity : something to excite, and 
quicken, and draw them forth into immediate action. And this 
holds prop'brtionably in all things, animate or inanimate, in the 
Avorld. The bare natvire and essential form of fire will enable it 
to burn ; but there must be an enlivening breath of air besides, 
to make it flame. A man has the same strength, sleeping and 
waking : but while he sleeps it fits hmi no more for business than 
if he had none. Nor is it the having of wheels and springs, 
tliough never so curiously wrought, and artificially set, but the 
winding of them up, that must give motion to the watch. And 
it Avould be endless to illustrate this subject by all the various 
instances that-art and nature could supply us with. 

But the case is much the same in spirituals. For grace in the 
soul, Avhile the soul is in the body, will always have the ill-neigh- 
bourhood of some remainders of corruption ; wliich, though they 
do not conquer and extinguish, yet will be sure to slacken and allay 
the vigour and briskness of the renewed principle ; so that when 
this principle is to engage in any great duty, it Avill need the 
actual intention, the particular stress and a))plication of the 


whole soul, to disencumber and set it free, to scour off its rust, 
and remove those hinderances, which would otherwise clog and 
check the freedom of its operations. 

II. And thus having shown, that to fit us for a due access to 
the holy sacrament, Ave must add actual preparation to habitual, 
I shall now endeavour to show the several parts or ingredients 
of which this actual j)reparation must consist. 

And here I shall not pretend to give an account of every par- 
ticular duty that may be useful for this purpose, but shall only 
mention some of the principal, and such as may most peculiarly 
contribute towards it. As, 

First, Let a man apply himself to the great and difficult work 
of self-examination by a strict scrutiny into, and survey of the 
whole state of liis soul ; according to that known and excellent 
rule of the apostle, in the very case now before us, 1 Cor. xi. 28, 
"Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread," &c. 
If a man Avould have such a wedding garment as may fit liim 
exactly, let self-examination take the measure. A duty of so 
mighty an influence upon all that concerns the soid, tliat it is 
indeed the very root and ground-work of all true repentance, 
and the necessary antecedent, if not also the direct cause of a 
sinner's return to God. 

For, as there are some sins which require a particular and dis- 
tinct repentance by themselves, and cannot be accounted for in 
the general heap of sins, known and unknown ; so, how is it 
possible for a man to repent rightly of such sins, unless by a 
thorough search into the nature, number, and distinguishing 
circumstances of them, he comes to see how, and in what degree, 
they are to be repented of ! 

But the sovereign excellency and necessity of this duty needs 
no other nor greater proof of it, than this one considertition, that 
nothing in nature can be more grievous and offensive to a sinner, 
than to look into himself; and generally what grace requires, 
nature is most averse to. It is indeed as offensive as to rake into 
a dunghill ; as grievous, as for one to read over liis debts when 
he is not able to pay them ; or for a bankrupt to examine and 
look into his accounts, which, at the same time that they acquaint, 
must needs also upbraid him with his condition. 

But as irksome as the work is, it is absolutely necessary. 
Nothing can well be imagined more painful, than to probe and 
search a purulent old sore to the bottom ; but for all that, the 
pain must be endured, or no cure expected. And men certainly 
have sunk their reason to very gross, low, and absurd conceptions 
of God, when in the matter of sin they can make such false and 
short reckonings with him and their own hearts; for can they 
imagine, that God has therefore forgot their sins, because they 
are not willing to remember them? Or will they measure his 

328 BR. south's sermons. [^SERM„ XX. 

pardon by their own oblivion ? What pitiful fig-leaves, what 
senseless and ridiculous shifts are these, not able to silence, and 
much less satisfy, an accusing conscience ? 

But now for the better management of tliis examination of our 
past lives, we must thoroughly canvass them with these and the 
like questions. 

As for instance ; let a man inquire what sins he has committed, 
and what breaches he has made vipon those two great standing 
rules of duty, the decalogue, and our Saviour's divine sermon 
upon the mount. Let him inquire also what particular aggrava- 
tions lie upon his sins, as whether they have not been committed 
against strong reluctancy and light of conscience, after many 
winning calls of mercy to reclaim, and many terrible warnings 
of judgment to aifright huu ? Whether resolutions, vows, and 
protestations, have not been made against them ? Whether they 
have not been repeated frequently, and persisted in obstinately ? 
And lastly, whether the same appetites to sin have not remained 
as active and unmortified after sacraments, as ever they had been 
before ? 

How important these considerations and heads of inquiry are, 
all who understand any thing will easily perceive. For this we 
must know, that the very same sm, as to the nature of it, stamped 
with any one of these aggravations, is, in effect, not the same. 
And he who has sinned the same great sin after several times 
receiving the sacrament, must not think that God will accept him 
under ten times greater repentance and contrition for it, than he 
brought with him to that duty fonnerly. Whether God by his 
grace will enable him to rise up to such a pitch, or no, is uncer- 
tain ; but most certain, that both his w^ork is harder, and his 
dano-er greater, than it Avas or could be at the first. 

Secondly, When a man has, by such a close and rigorous exa- 
mination of himself, found out the "accursed thing," and dis- 
covered his sin ; the next tiling in order must be, to work up his 
heart to the utmost hatred of it, and the bitterest sorrow and 
remorse for it. For self-examination having first presented it to 
the thoughts, these naturally transmit and hand it over to the 
passions. And this introduces the next ingredient of our sacra- 
mental preparations, to wit, repentance. Which arduous work I 
Avill suppose not now to begin, but to be renewed ; and that with 
special reference to sins not repented of before, and yet more 
especially to those new scores wliich we still run ourselves upon, 
since the last preceding sacrament. Which method, faithfully 
and constantly observed, must needs have an admirable and 
mighty effect upon the conscience, and keep a man from breaking 
or running beliindhand in his spiritual estate, which, Avithout 
frequent accountings, he Avill hardly be able to prevent. 

But because this is a duty of such high consequence, I would 
by all means Avarn men of one very common, and yet very dan- 


gerous mistake about it ; and that is, the taking of mere sorrow 
for sin for repentance. It is indeed a good introduction to it ; 
but the ]3orch, though never so fair and sj^acious, is not the house 
itself. Xothing passes in the accounts of God for repentance, 
but change of life : ceasing to do evil, and doing good, are the 
two great integral parts that complete this duty. For not to do 
evil, is much better than the sharpest sorrow for having done it ; 
and to do good is better and more valuable than both. 

When a man has found out sin in his actions, let him resolute- 
ly arrest it there ; but let him also pursue it home to liis inclina- 
tions, and dislodge it thence, otherwise it will be all to little 
purpose ; for the root being still left behind, it is odds but in time 
it will shoot out again. 

Men befool themselves infinitely, Avhen by venting a few sighs 
or groans, putting the finger in the eye, and Avhimpering out a 
few melancholy words; and lastly, concluding all Avith, "I wish I 
had never done so ; and I am resoh'ed never to do so more ;" 
they will needs persuade themselves that they have repented ; 
though, perhaps, in this very thing their heart all the while