Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

66 The

by sweetness; service, by the eye; fidelity, by oaths; valour, by brags; a saint, by his face; a devil, by his feet; we shall be sure to be deceived: Judge not, therefore, according to appearance.

But, that ye mistake not, though we may not judge only by the appearance, yet appearance may not be neglected in our judgment. Some things, according to the philosopher, doneï mèv, ési 8E, " seem and are,” are as they seem. Semblances are not always severed from truth. Our senses are safe guides to our understandings. We justly laugh at that sceptic in Laertius, who, because his servants robbed his cupboard, doubted whether he left his victuals there. What do we with eyes, if we may not believe their intelligence? That world is past, wherein the gloss Clericus amplectens fæminam presumitur benedicendi causå fecisse ; wanton embracements of another man's wife, must pass, with a Clerk, for a ghostly benediction.” Men are now more wise, less charitable. Words and probable shews are appearances, actions are not; and yet even our words also shall judge us: if they be filthy, if blasphemous, if but idle, we shall account for them, we shall be judged by them; Ex ore tuo. A foul tongue shews ever a rotten heart: By their fruits ye shall know them, is our Saviour's rule. I may safely say, Nobody desires to borrow colours of evil. If you do ilĩ, think not that we will make dainty to think you so; when the God of Love can say by the Disciple of Love, Žui facit peccatum, ex diabolo est. He, that committeth sin, is of the Devil. Even the Righteous Judge of the World judgeth secundum opera, according to our works; we cannot err, while we tread in his

steps. If we do evil, sin lies at the door; but it is on the street-side: every passenger sees it, censures it; how much more He, that sees in secret.

Tribulation and anguish upon every soul that doth evil. Every soul: here is no exemption by greatness; no buying off with bribes; no blearing of the eyes with pretences; no shrouding ourselves in the night of secrecy; but, if it be a soul that doth evil, tribulation and anguish is for it: contrarily, if we do well, shall we not be accepted? If we be charitable in our alms, just in our awards, faithful in our performances, sober in our carriages, devout in our religious services, conscionable in our actions; Glory, and honour, and peace to every man that worketh good; we shall have peace with ourselves, honour with men, glory with God and his angels: yea, that peace of God, which passeth all understanding; such honour as have all his Saints, the incomprehensible glory of the God of Peace, the God of Saints and Angels: to the participation whereof, that good God that hath ordained us, as mercifully bring us, for the sake of his dear Son Jesus Christ the Just. To whom, with thee, O Father, and thy Good Spirit, One Infinite God, our God, be given all praise, honour, and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

SERMON IX.

THE GREAT IMPOSTOR:

LAID OPEN IN A SERMON AT GRAY'S INN, FEBRUARY 2, 1623.

TO THE MOST NOBLE, AND WORTHILY HONOURED

SOCIETY OF GRAY'S INN:

AT WHOSE BAR THIS IMPOSTOR WAS OPENLY ARRAIGNED:

JOSEPH HALL

HUMBLY DEDICATES THIS PUBLIC LIFE OF HIS WEAK AND UNWORTHY

LABOUR.

JEREMIAH xvii. 9.

The heart is deceitful above all things. I know

KNOW where I am: in one of the famous Phrontisteries of Law and Justice. Wherefore serve Law and Justice, but for the prevention or punishment of fraud and wickedness? Give me leave, therefure, to bring before you, Students, Masters, Fathers, Oracles of law and justice, the greatest Cheater and Malefactor in the world; our own Heart.

It is a great word, that I have said, in promising to bring him before you; for this is one of the greatest advantages of his fraud, that he cannot be seen: that, as that old juggler, Apollonius Thyanæus, when he was brought before the Judge, vanished out of sight; so this great Impostor, in his very presenting before you, dispeareth and is gone; yea, so cunningly, that he doth it with our own consent, and we would be loth that he could be seen.

Therefore, as an Epiphonema to this just complaint of deceitful. ness, is added, Who can know it? It is easy to know that it is deceitful, and in what it deceives; though the deceits themselves cannot be known, till too late: as we may see the ship, and the sea, and the ship going on the sea; yet, the way of a ship in the sea, as Solomon observes, we know not.

God asks, and God shall answer. What he asks by Jeremiah, he shall answer by St. Paul; Who knows the heart of man? Even the spirit of man that is in him; 1 Cor. ii. 11. If then the heart have but eyes enow to see itself by the reflection of thoughts, it is

[ocr errors]

enough. Ye shall easily see and hear enough, out of the analogy and resemblance of hearts, to make you both astonished and ashamed.

The heart of man lies in a narrow room; yet all the world cannot fill it: but that, which may be said of the heart, would more than fill a world. Here is a double stile given it; of Deceitfulness, of Wickedness; either of which knows no end, whether of being, or of discourse. I spend my hour, and might do my life, in treating of the first.

See then, I beseech you, the Impostor, and the Imposture: the IMPOSTOR himself, The heart of man; the IMPOSTURE, Deceitful above all things.

I. As deceitful persons are wont ever to go under many names, and ambiguous, and must be expressed with an aliàs; so doth the HEART of man. Neither man himself, nor any part of man hath so many names, as the heart alone: for every faculty that it hath, and every action it doth, it hath a several name. Neither is there more multiplicity, than doubt in this name: not so many terms are used to signify the heart, as the heart signifies many things.

When ye hear of the heart, ye think straight of that fleshy part in the centre of the body, which lives first, and dies lasť; and whose beatings you find to keep time, all the body over. That is not it, which is so cunning, Alas, that is a poor harmless piece, merely passive; and if it do any thing, as the subministration of vital spirits to the maintenance of the whole frame, it is but good: no; it is the spiritual part, that lurks in this flesh, which is guilty of such deceit. We must learn of witty idolatry, to distinguish betwixt the stock and the invisible powers that dwell in it. It is not for me, to be a stickler betwixt the Hebrews and the Greek philosophers and physicians, in a question of natural learning, concerning the seat of the soul; nor to insist upon the reasons, why the Spirit of God rather places all the spiritual powers in the heart than in the brain; doubtless, in respect of the affections there resident, whereby all those speculative abilities are drawn to practice. It shall suffice us, to take things as we find them; and to hold it for granted, that this monosyllable, for so it is in many languages, comprises all that intellective and affective world, which concerneth man; and, in plain terms to say, that, when God says, The heart is deceitful, he means the UNDERSTANDING, WILL, AFFECTIONS are deceitful.

1. The UNDERSTANDING is doubly deceitful: it makes us believe it knows those things which it doth not, and that it knows not those things which it doth. As some foolish mountebank, that holds it a great glory to seem to know all things; or some presuming physician, that thinks it a shaine not to profess skill in any state of the body or disease: so doth our vain understanding; therein framing itself according to the spirits it meets withal : if they be proud and curious, it persuades them, they know every thing; if careless, that they know enough.

In the First kind; what hath not the fond heart of man dared to arrogate to itself? It knows all the stars by their names. Tush, that is nothing : it knows what the stars mean by their very looks; what the birds mean by their chirping, as Apollonius did; what the heart means, by the features of the face: it knows the events of life by the lines of the hand; the secrets of art, the secrets of nature, the secrets of state, the secrets of others' hearts, yea the secrets of God in the closet of heaven: yea, not only what God hath done, but what he will do. This is sapiens stultitia, “a wise folly," as Irenæus said of his Valentinians.

All figure-casters, palmisters, physiognomers, fortune-tellers, alchymists, fantastic projectors, and all the rabble of professors of those sepiegru, Acts xix. 19, not so much curious as idle arts, have their word given them hy the Apostle, deceiving and deceived. Neither can these men make any worse fools than their hearts have de themselves; and well may that Alexandrian tax (BMáxw vóucov) be set upon them in both names, whether of active or passive folly. And, as it coinmonly falls out that superfluous things rob the heart of necessary, in the mean while, those things, which the heart may and would know, it lightly misknows. As our senses are deceived by distance or interpositions, to think the stars beamy and sparkling, the moon horned, the planets equally remote, the sun sometimes red, pale other some; so doth also our understanding err, in mis-opinion of divine things: it thinks it knows God, when it is but an idol of fancy; as Saul's messengers, when they came into the room, thought they had the true David, when it was but a wisp: it knows the will of God, when it is nothing but gross mis-construction: so as the common knowledge of men, though they think it a torch, is but an Ignis Fatuus to lead them to a ditch. How many thousand Assyrians think they are in the way to the Prophet, when they are in the midst of Samaria! How many millions think they walk fairly on to heaven, when indeed they are in the broad way that leads to destruction! O poor blind Pagans, half-sighted Turks, blear-eyed Jews, blind-folded Papists, squint-eyed Schismatics, purblind Ignorants! how well do they find themselves pleased with their devotion, and think God should be so too; when it is nothing but a mixture of misprision, superstition, conceitedness; and, according to the seldom-reverently-used proverb, while they think they have God by the finger, they hold a devil by the toe; and, all this, because their heart deceives them! If careless and loth to be at the pains of knowing more, it persuades them they know enough; that they cry out of more, as he did on the ointment, Ut quid perditio hæcă What needs all this waste? and makes them as conscionable for knowledge, as Esau was for cattle, I hare enough, my brother, keep that thou hast to thyself; or, as contentedly resolute, as the epicure in the Gospel, Soul, take thy ease, thou hast knowledge enough laid up for many years. From whence it is, that too many rest simply, yea wilfully, in their own measure; not so much as wishing more skill in soul-matters; applauding their own safe mediocrity, like the credulous blind man, that thought he now saw a shimmering of the sun-beams, when indeed his back was towards it. Hence it is, that they scoff at the foolishness of preaching, scorn the forward bookishness of others; fearing nothing but a surfeit of mạnna, and hating to know more than their neighbours, than their fore-fathers; and thus are led on, muffled up in an unfelt ignorance, to their grave, yea, without the mercy of God, to their hell.

And, as in these things there is a presumption of knowing what we do not; so, contrarily, a dissimulation and concealment of the knowledge of what we do understand. The heart of man is a great lyar to itself this way. St. Paul says that of Pagans, which I may boldly say of Christians, They have the effect of the Law written in their hearts; yet many of them will not be acknown of one letter engraven there by the finger of God. Certain common principles there are, together with this Law, interlinearily written in the tables of the heart; as, That we must do as we would be done to; That there is a God; That this God is infinite in justice and truth, and must be served like himself; these they either blot out, or lay their finger on, that they may not be seen, purposely, that they may sin freely; and fain would persuade themselves they never had any such evidence from God: so putting off the checks of conscience with bold denials; like the harlot of Jericho, (but worse than she,) that hath hid the spies, and now out-faces their entertainment. Wherein the heart doth to itself that, which Nahash the Ammonite would have done to Israel ; put out his own right eye, that it may not see that law, whereby it might be convinced and find itself iniserable,

Thus the Understanding of man is every way deceitful, in overknowing, mis-knowing, dissembling; in all which, it is like an evil and unfaithful eye, that either will be seeing by a false glass, or a false light, or with distortion; or else wilfully closes the lids, that it may not see at all; and, in all this, deceives us.

2, The WILL is no less cunning; which, though it make fair pretences of a general inclination to good, yet, hic et nunc, in particulars, bangs towards a pleasing evil. Yea, though the understanding have sufficiently informed it of the worthiness of good and the turpitude of evil, yet, being overcome with the false delectableness of sin, it yields to a mis-assent: reason being, as Aquinas speaks, either swallowed up by some passion, or beld down by some vicious habit. It is true, still the Will follows the Reason, neither can do otherwise; but therefore, if Reason misled be contrary to Reason, and a schism arise in the soul, it must follow that the Will must needs be contrary to Will and Reason; wherein it is like a planet, which, though it be carried about perpetually by the first mover, yet slily creeps on his own way, contrary to that strong circumvolution. And, though the mind be sufficiently convinced of the necessity or profit of a good act; yet, for the tediousness annexed to it, in a dangerous spiritual acedy, it insensibly slips away from it, and is content to let it fall: as sume idle or fearful merchant, that could be glad to have gold, if

« ForrigeFortsæt »