Images de page
PDF
ePub

An Evil World, yea set in evil; 1 John v. 19: a world of corrupt unregeneration, that hates Christ and his; John xv. !8: that is hated of Christ; James iv. 4.

An Indifferent World, that is good or evil as it is used: whereof St. Paul, Let those, that use the world, be as not abusing it; i Cor. vii. 31.

This Indifferent world is a world of commodities, affections, improvement of the creature; which, if we will be wise Christians, we must fashion to us, framing it to our own bent, whether in want or abundance.

The Good World is a world of saints, whose Souls are purified in obeying the truth through the Spirit; 1 Peter i. 22. To this world we may be fashioned.

The Evil World is a world of mere men and their vicious conditions. God hath made us the lords of the indifferent world; himself is the Lord of the good; Satan is lord of the evil, Princeps hujus Seculi. And that is most properly the world, because it contains the most; as it is but a chaff-heap, wherein some grains of wheat are scattered. To this evil world then, we may not fashion ourselves, in those things, which are proper to it as such. In natural, in civil actions, we may, we must follow the world: singularity in these things is justly odious: herein the World is the true Master of Ceremonies, whom not to follow is no better than a cynical irregularity. In things positively or morally evil, we may not.

There is no material thing, that hath not his form. The outward form is the fashion: the fashion of outward things is variable with the times; su as every external thing, clothes, building, plate, stuff, gesture is now in, now out of fashion: but the fashions of Morality, whether in good or evil, are fixed and perpetual. The world passeth and the fashion of it; but the evil of the fashions of the world is too constant and permanent, and must be ever the matter of our detestation : Fashion not yourselves like to this world.

II. But, because evils are infinite, as wise Solomon hath ohserved; it will be requisite to call them to their heads, and to reduce these FORBIDDEN FASHIONS to the several parts, whereto they belong. I cannot dream with Tertullian, that the soul hath a body; but I may well say, that the soul follows the body: and, as it hath parts ascribed to it according to the outward proportion, so are these parts suited with several fashions. Let your patient attention follow me through them all.

1. Begin with the HEAD; a part, not more eminent in place, than in power. What is the head-tire of the world ? Surely, as outwardly we see in this castle of the body the flag of vanity hanged out most conspicuously in feathers, perukes, wires, locks, frizzles, powders, and such other trash; so the inward disguise of this part is no less certain, no less obvious to wise and holy eyes. And what is that but fancies, mis-opinions, mis-judgment? all, whether vain thoughts; Psalm xciv. 11: or evil thoughts; Isaiah lix. 7. To this head refer novelties of device, heresies, capricious, superstitious ronceits, whereof the instances would have no end. And these errors of the Mind, are either in false Principles or false Conclusions; and both, whether in matter of speculation or practice.

It is a world, to see what false Maxims the world lars down to itseit: all which are as so many grounds of disguises of this great and graceless head. I do not tell you, that the fool hath said, There is no God; or, hath pent up that God in the circle of the heavens; or, whatever other imagination the very impudence of the world is ashamed to justify; as even in outward pride there are certain pudenda mysteria, which vain dames use, but hide: I speak of received and current axioms, which the world takes for granted, and fears not to aver: such as these; “ We must do according to custom:" “ If it be nendv EÚZELULEVOV, an ill weed well rooted, we may not pull it up :” “Wrongs may not be offered; they may be returned:"; “ There can be no better justice than retaliation” “ The lie must be answered with a blow, the challenge with a combat:" “ Our honour must be tendered, whatever becomes of our soul:" “Reason must be done in drinking, though without reason:” “We may lie for an advantage:” “ We may swear upon provocation :" “ We may make the best of our own:” “ Each man for himself:” “ Youth must have a swinge:” “ It is good sleeping in a whole skin:” “ Religion must be tuned to reasons of State;" and a thousand of this kind.

And from these false premises are raised pernicious Conclusions of resolution to the soul. What should I speak of profane and wild thoughts, of sensual and beastly thoughts, of cruel and bloody thoughts? These are the fashions of the world, whereto we may not fashion ourselves, remembering that of wise Solomon, The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord; Prov. xv. 26. These dresses, perhaps, seem not uncomely to carnal eyes; but God tells us how he likes them: they are as naught as old: he spits at them, in a just detestation; and will spit at us, for them. Say not now, therefore, “ Thought is free:” 'no; it is so far from that, as that it may be unpardonable; as Simon Peter intimates to Simon Magus; Acts viii. 22. Away then with all the false positions and misconclusions, all the fantastical or wicked thoughts of the world. It is filthy, let it be filthy still. Let not us fashion our Heads like unto the World.

2. Now, not only the whole Head in common, but every part, every power of sense in this head, hath a fashion of its own, that we must not follow in the world. Look first at the EYES. The Eyes of the World have a four-fold evil cast, that we may not imitate; the Adulterous, the Covetous, the Proud, the Envious. The Adulterous roves and looks round about, the Covetous looks downward, the Proud looks aloft, the Envious looks asquint.

(1.) The first are Eyes full of Adulteries; 2 Peter ii. 14: every glance whereof is an act of beastliness : BRégwv &U OÍMeutev, saith our Saviour; Matth. v. 28: the very sight is a kind of constupration. The same word in the Greek, xóen, signifies both “ the apple of the eye” and “ a virgin:" I may not now discuss the reason. Sure I am, many an eye proves a bawd to the soul; and I may safely say, Virginity is first lost in the eye. The ancient philosophers before Aristotle, that held the sight to be by sending out of beams, imagined the eye to be of a fiery nature; wherein they were the rather confirmed, for that they found, that if the eye take a blow, fire seems to sparkle out of it. But, certainly, how waterish soever better experience hath found the substance of the eye, it is spiritually fiery ; fiery, both actively and passively: passively, so as that it is inflamed by every wanton beam; actively, so as that it sets the whole heart on fire, with the inordinate flames of concupiscence. What should a Christian do with a burning-glass in his head, that unites pernicious beams for the firing of the heart? I mean, a beastly and fornicating eye; Ezek. vi. 9. Out with it, if it thus ofend thee, as thou lookest to escape the fire of hell. For this flame, like that unnatural one of Sodom, shall burn downward; and never leave, till it come to the bottom of that infernal Tophet. Make covenants with your eyes, () ye Christians, as Job did; and, when ye have done, hold them close to your covenants once made: and, if they will needs wilfully break, take the forfeit to the utmost. How much better were it for a man to be blind, than to see his own dámnation! Thus fashion not your Eye to the Uncleanness of the World.

(2.) The Covetous follows. Even this is a lust of the eye too; 1 John ii. 16: Libido eris, as Ambrose calls it. As the eye in its own nature is covetous, in that it is not satisfied with seeing ; Eccl. i. 8: so the eye of the covetous hath a more particular insatiableness. Non satiatur oculus divitiis, The eye is not satisfied with ri hes; Eccl. iv. 8. And yet these riches can go no further than his eye: the owner hath nothing but their sight; v. 11. Hence wise Solomon parallels hell and destruction with the eye: neither are satisfiable; Prov. xxvii. 20. He, that is a true glutton of the world, may fill his belly; his eye, never. For, it is in these desires as in drunkenness, his drought increaseth with his draughts; and, the more he hath, the less he thinks he hath, and the more he would have. This disease is popular; and, as the Prophet tells us, à minimo ad unarimum ; Jer. vi. 13. The world could not be so wicked, if it had not this cast of the eye: for this Qirap yupice, love of money, is the root of all evil; 1 Tim. vi. 10. From hence come simonies in the spiritualty, sacrilege in the laity, immoderate fees in lawyers, unreasonable prices in merchants, exactions in officers, oppressions in landlords, encroachments in neighbourhood, falsehood in servants, and, lastly, cozenages in all sorts. But, Iloe to him, that increaseth that which is not his; and to him, that ladeth himself with thick clay, saith Habakkuk, ii. 6. Was there ever a more perfect conviction of a vice? This desired metal is not his, first : and then, if it were his, it is but densissimum lutum, thick clay; it may load him, it cannot ease him. Away therefore with those two greedy daughters of the horseleech, that cry still, Give, give; Prov. xxx. 15. Gre is for Christians; but Give, give, is for World ings: as it was the doubling of the stroke upon the rock, that offended: If we be Christians, we are richer than the world can make us, : Hlaving therefore food and raiment, let us be therewith content ; 1 Tim. vi. 8. But, if thou wilt needs enlarge thy boundless desires, take this with thee, there is somewhat as unsatiable as thine eye: The grave and hell never say, It is enough; Prov. xxx. 16. Thus, fashion not your Eye to the Covetousness of the World.

(3.) The next is the Proud looks. There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eye-lids are lifted up; Prov. xxx. 13. There is? nay, where is there any other? The world is all such: admiring itself; scorning all others. And, if ever, now is that of the Prophet verified, The child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable; Isaiah iii. 5. One prides himself in his bags, another in his gay coat; one in bis titles, another in his fame; one in agility, another in skill; one in strength, another in beauty: every one hath something to look big upon. O Fools, either ignorant or forgetful of what ye are, of what

ye

shall be! Go on to wonder at your poor miserable glory and greatness: ye

are but lift

up
for a fall:

your height is not so sure as your ruin; ruin to the dust, yea to hell. Him, that hath a proud heart, will I not suffer, saith God; Psalm ci. 5. Fashion not your Eye therefore to the Pride of the World.

(4.) The last is the Envious eye; by an eminence called Oculus nequam, an evil eye. Is thine eye evil, because I am good? saith the householder; Matth. xx. 15: as if envy had engrossed all malignity into her own hands. This cast of the eye the World learned of the Devil; who, when himself was fallen, could not abide that man should stand. Far be it from us, to learn it of the world. As happy is, this vice is executioner enough to itself: l'utredo ossium invidentia, Envy is the rotting of the bones; Prov. xiv. 30. And, where other earthly torments die with men, this follows them into hell, and shall there torture them eternally. The wicked shall see it, and shall be grieved, (et frendens contabescet,) and shall gnash and pine ; Psalm cxii

. 10. Fashion not your Eye therefore to the Envy of the World.

3. We have done with the Eye in the uncleanness, covetousness, pride, envy

of it. We might have taken the FOREHEAD in our way: that is the seat of impudency: it is frons area, a brow of brass ; Isaiah xlviii. 4: yea, meretricia, an whore's forehead, that refuses to be ashamed; Jer. iii. 3: yea, yiyevtadus, giant-like, confronting heaven, which Ecclesiasticus prays to be delivered from; Ecclus. xxiii. 5: that can boldly bear out å sin committed, either out-facing the fact, as Gehazi; or the fault, as Saul. This is the fashion of the world, by lies, imprecations, perjuries to outbrave the most just reproof; A wicked man hardeneth his face; Prov. xxi. 29.

This fashion is not for us Christians. If we cannot be guiltless, we cannot be shameless. At least, we can blush at our sius. The dye of our repentance strives with the crimson of our offence; and we can, out of the true remorse of our souls, say with the Prophet, We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us; for we have sinned against the Lord our God; Jer. iii. 25. Thus, fashion not your Forehead to the Impudence of the World.

4. We pass to the EAR; wherein there is a double fashion to be avoided.

(1.) There is a Deaf ear, shut up against all instruction: like the adder's against the charm; Psalm lviii. 5. How shut up? A film or foreskin is grown over it, which hinders the way of the voice; Jer. vi. 10. Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken. Hence it is, that we preach in vain, we labour in vain : to what purpose do we tear our throats, and spend our lungs, and force our sides, in suing to a deaf world? Who hath believed our report, or to whom is the arın of the Lord revealed ? If ever we will hear the voice of the Son of God and live, we must therefore have our ears opened: this our foreskin must be pierced. Aurem perforasti mihi, Thou hast digged my ear, as the word originally sounds; Psalm xl. 6. The finger of our Omnipotent Saviour must do its and his Ephphatha ; Mar. vii. 34. Let the deaf World perish in their infidelity and disobedience: but, for us, let us say with Samuel, Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.

(2.) There is an Itching ear; 2 Tim. iv. 3: that, out of a wanton curiosity, affects change of doctrine. How commonly do we see a kind of epicurism in the ear! which, when it hath fed well of many good dishes, longs to surfeit of a strange composition. Yea, there is an appetitus caninus, that, passing by wholesome viands, falls upon unmeet and foul-feeding morsels. “We have heard Sermons enough; Oh now for a Mass: we have heard our own Divines; Oh for a Jesuit at a Vespers.” O foolish Israelites! who hath bewitched you, that, loathing the manna of angels, your mouth should hang towards the Egyptian garlick? God hath a medicine in store for this itch, if we prevent him not: T'innient aures, saith he; Jer. xix. 3. If our ears itch after strange doctrine, other's ears shall tingle at our strange judgments. The God of Mercy prevent it! and, since we accurse ourselves if we speak any other words than our Master's, say you to Christ speaking by us, Master, whither shall we go from thee? thou hast the words of eternal life.

Thus fashion not your Ear to the Deafness, to the Inconstancy of the World.

5. The ill fashions of the TONGUE call me to them; whereof the variety is no less infinite, than of words forbidden and offensive. The Eye and the Ear are receivers, but the Tongue is a spender; and it lays out according to the store of the heart: for, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, saith our Saviour. No words can express the choice of ill words. I will limit my speech to three ill fashions of the Tongue, Falsehood, Maliciousness, Obscenity.

(1.) The World hath a False tongue in his head: false every way; in broaching of errors, in sophistry of their maintenance, in deceits and cozenages of contracts, in lies, (whether assertory, which breed misreports, or promissory, which cause disappointments) in perjuries, in equivocations, in flatteries, and humouring of men or times. What a world of untruth offers itself here to us! Ļord, whom can a man speak with, that he dares believe? whom

« PrécédentContinuer »