Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

how we should behave ourselves in this point; Let us walk honestly, as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness ,—but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil it in the lusts thereof. Put on the spirit of the gospel, and the ornaments of christianity, and then you cannot for shame seek the pleasures of the brute, nor sink down into the base imparities of the animal nature : If you have put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and are his disciples indeed, then look like christians; let the very life of Christ be manifest in your lives : Live above these animal desires, these lower designs of the flesh, which is not the chief nature of the man, much less should it be the chief end of christians to gratify it.

II. Let christians consider, that the original ruin of their natures, soul and body, arose from the indulgence of a foolish appetite. When our mother Eve saw the fruit of the forbidden tree, she thought it was pleasant to the eye, and good for food : She tasted it herself, and tempted Adam to the sin that ruined him and all his offspring. When therefore a temptation to this sort of guilt appears, let us think of all the miseries of our fallen state, and not dare to repeat that crime, which had such dismal consequences. It brought iniquity, pain, and death into human nature, and begun all that dishonour to God, and all that mischief among men, that ever was found in this lower world.

III. Every saint ought to have a mortal quarrel with the flesh, because he carries about the seeds of iniquity in it, and the springs of perverse appetite which ought always to be kept under, lest our very spirits become carnal, and we lose our heavenly crown. Therefore saith the apostle; 1 Cor. ix. 27. I keep under my body, and bring it under subjection, and endeavour to be temperate in all things, that running in the christian race, I may obtain the prize. It is the business of a christian to eat and drink in due season, for strength and refreshment, not for luxury and drunkenness, which Solomon forbids to princes; Eccl. x. 17. It was an excellent saying of that holy man, Mr. Joseph Allein; “ I sit down to my table not to please my appetite, or to pamper my flesh, but to maintain a servant of Jesus Christ, that he may be fit for the Lord's work.”

IV. The saints should be pure and holy; even in the affairs of the natural life; for they have meat to eat, that the world knows not of: they drink of the pleasures that flow from God, and from his covenant; and therefore should not be over-solici. tous about pleasing their meaner appetites. Those that indulge themselves in carnal delicacies, and make enquiry for the pleasures of the flesh, as the main business of life, what shall I eat, and what shall I drink? Those that live in a round of sensuality, they debase their souls, make themselves unfit for the duties and

a

pleasures of a christian, unfit for divine communications, for holy fellowship, heavenly meditation, and lively exercises of faith, upon unseen things; they damp their zeal for God, blunt their relish for religious delights, and are perpetually defiling their own consciences. These are they that make their God their belly, while they profess to be christians. But the apostle, in Phil. iii. 18, 19. tells us, “whatsoever they profess, they are enemies of the cross of Christ, and I cannot speak of it, says he, without weeping."

Now if there be any such sinners amongst us, such slaves to a paltry appetite, that make it a business of too solemn and solicitous enquiry,“ How we shall regale the palate, and gratify the taste :" If there are any of us that know not how to forbid ourselves a savoury or luscious dish, even though we know or expect it will discompose the flesh or the mind : If we have not temperance enough to deny the superfluous or excessive glass, when it comes to our turn, nor virtue nor courage enough to refuse it, let us take our share in the reproofs of this discourse; and let us remember that we have had fair warning this day from the word of God, that we may not drown our souls in sensual indulgences, and make ourselves unfit for the duties of life, or for the business or the joy of heaven.

HYMN FOR SERMON XXVI.

Christian Morality, viz. Temperance.

IS it a man's divinest good,

Can I forget the fatal deed, To make his soul a slave to food ? How Eve brought death on all her seed, Vile as the beast, whose spirit dies, She tasted the forbidden tree, And has no hope above the skies? Anger'd her God, and ruin'd me. Can meats or choicest wines procure Was life designed alone to eat? Delights that ever shall endure, What is the mouth, or what the meat? Was not I born above the swine, Both from the ground derive their birth, And shall I make their pleasures mine? || And both shall mix with common earth. Am I not made for bobler things ? Great God new-mould my sensual mind Made to ascend on angel's wings? And let my joys be more refip'd ; Shall my best powers be thus debas'd Raise me to dvell among the blest, And part with heaven to please my taste? || And fil me for thy heavenly feast.

SERMON XXVII.

Christian Morality, viz. Chastity, &c.

a

a

Philip. iv. 8.-Whatsoever things are pare, &c. think on these things.

Ogos arra, &c. PURITY of heart and life, in the perfect beauty of it, belongs to no man since our original apostacy. That foul and shameful departure from God, has rendered us all unholy and unclean. But we are recalled to seek our ancient glory, by the messengers of heaven, and the ministry of the gospel. The apostle exhorts us to it in the text. If the word pure be taken in its largest extent, it may include in it temperance in meats and drinks, as well as chastity in behaviour. You have heard already a discourse of temperance, with so hateful an account of the crimes of gluttony and drunkenness, that I hope my hearers have conceived a sacred aversion of such sensualities.

Let us now proceed to the second sense implied in the word, and that is, modesty and chastity of speech and behaviour. This is a most eminent, and most undeniable part of that purity, which St. Paul here requires ; and this, in many of his epistles he insists upon as necessary, in order to make up the character of a christian, and render it honourable; and St. Peter recommends it to the pious women in his day, as a means of the conversion of their husbands, who were gentiles : That they who obeyed not the word of the gospel, might be won to a good esteem of christianity, while they beheld the chaste conversation of their wives; 1 Pet. iii. I, 2.

This virtue stands in opposition to those several vices, which are distinguished by different names in scripture, such as adultery, fornication, lasciviousness. 1. Adultery, when one of the persons who are guilty of impure embraces, is under the sacred bonds of marriage. By the commission of this sin there is injury done to another family, and thus it is not only an offence against the laws of purity, but a violation of the laws of justice. 2. Fornication, when both the guilty persons are free and unmarried. It has been sufficiently proved by many writers, that this is utterly unlawful, however some have attempted to varnish the guilt, and excuse the crime. 3. Lasciviousness, which consists in giving a

loose to those impure thoughts, words, and actions, which have an apparent tendency toward the sins before-mentioned. Besides these, there are other names and instances of unclean abominations, which I wish could be utterly rooted out from human nature, by burying them in everlasting silence.

If I were to fetch arguments from reason and the light of nature, I might might make it appear that these things are criminal and contrary to those rules of morality, which were written in the heart of man. And perhaps they would have appeared in the same guilty colours to all men, if the light of nature were not obscured by corrupt passions, and licentious appetite. The practice of these impare vices is inconsistent with the great ends for which God has formed our natures, has raised us above the beasts that perish, and has inclined mankind to form themselves into societies for mutual benefit. The brutes, who have no nature superior to the animal are not governed by the same laws: But the God of nature, who has made us compound beings and (shall I say?) hath joined an animal and an angel together to make up a man, expects that the angel should govern the animal in all its natural propensities and confine it within the rules of religion and the social life.

These vices are also contrary to the solemn ordinances of marriage which the blessed God instituted in paradise in a state of innocency, and designed to continue through all generations. If these impurities of conversation were publicly permitted, all the tender and most engaging names of relation and kindred, such as father, sister, and brother, would be confounded, and almost abolished among mankind; and what dismal consequences would hence ensue? In what helpless circumstances would children be then brought into this world? And many of the ends of human society would become frustrate and vain.

I confess indeed, that several of these vices were practised in the heathen world without any inward remorse of the mind, without private reproof or public shame. Some of these impurities were allowed by the laws of their country; some were indulged at festivals, and sometimes they were mingled with their religious ceremonies, and made part of the worship of their gods; Idol gods! Abominable religions! Base and shameful worshippers! For it is a shame, saith the apostle, even to speak of those things that are done in secret; those unfruitful works of darkness: Eph. v. 11, 12. Yet there have been several of the grave, the sober, and the wisest among the Gentiles, who being .constrained by the mere force of reason, have spoke against these corrupt practises, and have adorned the virtue of chastity with pany honourable encomiums.

But how doubtful soever this duty hath been reckoned

among the heathen nations, yet it is made necessary by the principles of the christian religion, and a strong and severe guard of prohibitions and threatenings is set all around to secure the practice of it. Now that I may speak of this subject as becomes me,

. and recommend it in language pure and undefiled, I shall set before you some of these scriptures, that bear witness against all the violations of it, under the following heads :

I. The express precepts of the law of God demand the first place in this catalogue of divine testimonies against impurity, for they were delivered at Mount Sinai to many hundred thousands at once, they were ushered in with lightning, and pronounced with thunder. Er. xx. 14. Thou shalt not commit adultery. This is the seventh command: And that there may not be the least tendency toward this sin, the tenth command is set as a preservative and defence, thou shalt not so much as covet thy neighbour's wife, verse 17. In this epitome and sum of the laws of God, whereby he rules his creatures, which is called the decalogue or ten commandments, you find this vice of impurity is twice forbidden ; once in the perfect act, and again in the criminal wish and intention. Observe here, that though the words of these commands directly point to adultery, yet it appears by the very reason of things, as well as from other passages of scripture, that all unchaste thoughts, words, and actions, are here forbidden, as our younger years have been taught in the catechism.

Nor is this a law that belonged only to the Jews, for the New Testament mentions and enjoins this command with the rest, which are of equal force under the gospel. The law forbids als manner of lust, and saith ; Thou shalt not covet; Rom. vii. 7. The great apostle puts the Thessalonians in mind of what he had taught them as the law of Christ. 1 Thess. iv. 2, 3, 4, 5. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God. It is as much as if he had said, it is a dishonour to christianity, and a step of return to heathenism, to give a loose to impure lusts. He repeats the same thing; Eph. iv. 17–21. “ This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their minds, having the understanding darkened, and being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them; because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling, have given them-selves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greedi. ness. But ye have not so learned Christ;" “ if so be ye have been led by him, and taught the truth as it is in Jesus." In vain ye profess to bave learned the truth as it is in Jesus, or

a

« ForrigeFortsæt »