therefore itself is necessary in the execution. 2. Because God doth not govern the world by deceit.

Sect. 36. God will inflict more punishment for the final rejection of his government, than kings do for treason and rebellion against themselves.

There is no proportion between God and man, and between a fault against God and against man; therefore, if racks, torments, and death be justly inflicted for treason against a king, much more may be expected for rebellion against God.

Object. But men's sins do God no hurt, as they do the king. Answ. They do wrong, where they do no hurt. It is not for want of malignity in sin, but through the perfections of God, that they do not hurt him; but they displease him, and injure him; and they hurt the world and the sinner himself, who is not his own. A child is to be corrected for many faults, which do his father no harm. It is not hurting God that is the cause that sin is punished.

Object. But God is merciful as well as just.

Answ. True; and therefore he showed mercy to sinners in the day of mercy; and it is for the contempt and abuse of mercy that he condemneth them; if the mercy abused had been less, the sin and punishment had been less. A merciful king and judge will hang a murderer or traitor: mercy to the good requireth punishment to the bad. God's attributes are not contrary; he is merciful to the due objects of mercy, and hath penal justice for the objects of that justice.

Object. But after this life the ends of punishment cease, therefore, so will the punishment; for there will be none in the next world to be warned by it, nor any further sin to be restrained, unless it be a castigatory purgatory for the sinner himself.

Answ. 1. I have proved that the law was necessary to the government of this world; and if it was necessary that God say, "Everlasting death shall be the wages of sin,' then his truth and justice make the execution necessary afterwards.

2. When this life is ended, we look for a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness; and the penalties of the sinners of this world may be a means of that righteousness * Ut fulmina paucorum periculo cadunt, omnium metu; sic animadversiones Solon's counsel magnarum potestatum, terrent latius quàm nocent.-Sen. for the felicity of the Commonwealth was, Ut boni præmiis invitentur, et mali pœnis coerceantur.-Cic. ad Brut. Oderunt peccare mali formidine pœnæ.


of the next; as the punishment of the devils is a warning to us, and proposed to us for our terror and restraint.

3. How little know we whether thousands of the orbs which we see are not inhabited; and whether the penalties of earthly sinners may not be a warning to any of those superior worlds. God hath not acquainted us with all the uses that he can make of sinners' punishments: and, therefore, when nature telleth us what is due, it is folly to say it will not be, because God hath no use for it.

Object. But hell is a cruelty which expresseth tyranny rather than wise justice.

Answ. That is but the voice of folly, partiality, and guilt: every thief that is hanged is likely enough to think the same of his own punishment and judge. If you think it such a cruelty, why was not the threatening of it enough to govern you, and to counterpoise a feather, the trifles of sordid, fleshly pleasure? Why did you choose it, in the choice of sin? Were you not told of it, and was not life and death offered to your choice? Would you choose that which you think it is cruelty to inflict? Who is it that is cruel to you but yourselves? Why will you now be so cruel to your own souls, and then call God cruel for giving you your choice? O, sinners, as you are wise, as you are men, as ever you care what becometh of you for ever, have mercy upon yourselves, and do not refuse, and obstinately refuse, the mercy of God, and then call him unmerciful. Have pity on your own souls. Be not so cruel against yourselves as to run into endless misery for nothing, and then think to lay the blame on God. God calleth now to you in your sin and wilfulness, and entreateth you to have mercy on yourselves, and then he will have mercy on you in the day of your distress: but if you will not hear him, but will have none of his mercy now, wonder not if in vain you cry to him for it then.

Object. But I would not so use an enemy of my own.

Answ. 1. He doth not deserve it, for you are not gods. 2. You are not governors of the world, and so his fault respecteth not any such law and judgment of yours, by which the world must be governed. 3. Nor have you the wisdom and justice of God, to do that which is right to all. Yet are you not bound yourselves to take complacency in the evil of your enemy, but to use just means to bring him to a better mind and state.

Sect. 37. The sum of all here proved is, that all sin deserveth endless misery, and naturally induceth to it; and that all un

godly, impenitent souls shall certainly undergo it; and that none can be saved from this misery, but by turning to God, and being saved from their sins.s


Of the present Sinful and Miserable State of this World.

SECT. 1. Though all men may know all this beforesaid to be their duty, and sin to be so evil, and to deserve such punishment, yet none do live perfectly without sin, according to the law of nature.t

I have heard but of few that pretend to such perfection, and those few have confuted their own pretences, and been the furthest from it of many others: and, therefore, this I have no need to prove.

Sect. 2. The greatest part of the world do bend their minds and lives to the satisfying of their flesh, and live in ungodliness, intemperance, and unrighteousness, neglecting God and future happiness, and that holy life which is the way thereto.

This being a matter of public or common fact, doth need no other proof than acquaintance with the people of the world.

Sect. 3. Yea, there is an aversion and enmity in them, to the life which God in nature doth prescribe them, and a strong inclination to a fleshly life.

There needeth no other proof of this than the wonderful difficulty which we find in persuading men to change their lives, to live to God, and to forsake their sensuality and worldliness; and the abundance of reason and labour that is lost upon them, when we cannot so much as make them willing.

Audetis ridere

$ Dat ille veniam facilè, cui venia est opus.—Sen. Agam. nos, cum Gehennas dicimus et inextinguibiles ignes, in quos animas dejici ab eorum hostibus cognovimus? Quid Plato vester in volumine de animæ immortalitate? Nonne Acheroutem, nonne Stygem, &c., nominat? In quibus animas asseverat volvi, mergi, exuri? Nec ejus authoritas plurimum à veritate declinat? Quamvis enim vir lenis et benevolæ voluntatis inhumauum esse crediderit capitali animas sententiâ condemnare; non est tamen absonè suspicatus, jaci eas in flumina torrentia flammarum globis, et cænosis voraginibus tetra.-Arnob. adv. Gent. 1. 2, p. 14.

Bias (in Laert.) inquit, Ita amandum quasi odio simus habituri: Plurimos enim esse malos: and though Cicero (in Lael.) says, That it is a sentence, Sapiente planè indigua, it is his mistake of the sense of it; for it is true, that in well-grounded friendship we must avoid suspiciou, which is all that Cicero pleads for: but yet we must know men to be men, and mutable; and all just love is not well-grounded, intimate friendship.

Sect. 4. It is evident in the effect, that much of this cometh with us into the world.

1. How else should it be so universal as it is? How should it be found in all sorts of constitutions and complexions; and in every country and age till now? 2. How should it work so early in children as commonly it doth? 3. How cometh it to prevail against the best education, helps, and means? Certainly, all of us feel from our childhood too much of the truth of this.

Sect. 5. This natural pravity is quickly increased by the advantage of sensuality, which is active before reason cometh to any power of resistance, and so getteth stronger possession by custom, and groweth to a confirmed habit."

Sect. 6. And if vicious education by vicious parents be added, and bad company second that, and the vulgar course, or ruler's countenance concur, the corrupt inclination is quickly more radicated, and next to a nature.

Sect. 7. Many so far prevail against the light and law of nature, as to grow strange to God and to themselves, to their end and their work: even to doubt whether there be a God, or whether they have any other life to live, and whether holiness be good and necessary, and sin be bad, and deserve any punishment.*

Sect. 8. There is a great deal of sottish unteachableness on the minds and wills of men, which hindereth their conviction and reformation.y

Sect. 9. There is a great deal of senseless stupidity and hardheartedness on men, which maketh them sleepily neglect the greatest things which they are convinced of.

Sect. 10. There is in most a marvellous inconsiderateness, as if they had not their reason awake to use; so that they will not soberly and seriously think of the things which most deeply concern them.

Sect. 11. Most men are so taken up with the concernments of their bodies, that their minds are pre-occupied, and made unfit for higher things.

u In uno annulo omnes, boni principes possunt insculpi, inquit quidam in Vopisc. Aurel.

* Seneca saith, that a good man is a phoenix, born once in five hundred years. Ep. 42.

y Lucian (in Tim.) inq. Boni possessio est, quæ haud facilè inveniri potest; ut quæ jamdudum è vita concesserit: Adeo obscura et pusilla, ut illam vel Lynceus vix dum inveniat.

[ocr errors]

Diogenes crying, O homines adeste! when a crowd came about him, drove them away, saying, Homines vocavi, non sterquilinia,

All this is proved, if we walk but in the world with open eyes. Sect. 12. The love of the world and fleshly pleasure is so powerful in the most, that they love not the holy law of God, which forbiddeth them that sensuality, and commandeth them a holy and temperate life."

They are like children that cry for what they love, and will not be restrained by telling them that it is unwholesome. Reason signifieth nothing with them, as long as sense and appetite gainsay it. They are angry with all that crosseth their appetites, though it be to save their lives. The sense is become the predominant power in them, and reason is dethroned, and hath left its power. Therefore, God's law is unacceptable and hateful to these brutish people; because it is quite against their inclination, and that which the flesh doth call their interest and good.

Sect. 13. Therefore they love not those who press them to the obedience of this law, which is so ungrateful to them; and who condemn their sin by the holiness of their lives; and that awaken their guilty consciences, by the serious mention of the retributions of the life to come.

All this is bitter to the taste, and the reasonableness, necessity, and future benefits, are things that they are much insensible of.

Sect. 14. Therefore, they love not God himself; as he is holy, and governeth them by a holy law, which is so much against their inclinations; as he forbiddeth them all their sinful pleasure, and threateneth damnation to them if they rebel, especially as his justice will execute this; indeed, their aversation from God, in these respects, is no less than a hating him as God.

Sect. 15. These vices, working continually in men's hearts, do fill them with deceiving thoughts, and distracting passions, and unquietness, and engage them in self-troubling ways, and deprive them of the comforts of the love of God, and of a holy life, and of the well-grounded hope of future blessedness.

Though they have such a present pleasure as prevaileth with them, it bringeth speedy smart and trouble: just like the pleasure of scratching to a man that hath the itch, which is


Aristippus being asked, Quid esset admirandum in vita? answered, Vir probus et modératus? quoniam etsi inter multos improbos agat, non tamen pervertitur.-Stob. Hence, was Diogenes' searching Athens with a lantern, to find a man. And when Themistocles had a farm to sell, he bid the cryer tell it, as its great commendation, That there was an honest neighbour dwelt near it: intimating the paucity of such.


« VorigeDoorgaan »