« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
makes them miferable, this may be in a great measure defeated by the external Circumftances of our Condition in thisWorld; and therefore this can never be a Motive, that is, it cannot be a reason why we should chufe Virtue, because it is not always a reason; nay, it is as often a reafon for Vice as for Virtue; and if it be a good reason for one, I cannot fee why it should not be a good reafon for the other; for if it be a reafon at all, it is a reason for that fide on which at prefent it is,whether that be Virtue orVice: Indeed thefe Temporal Advantages of Virtue are not fo much Reasons for Virtue,as against Vice, and that too only against fuchVices, or fuch Degrees and Inftances of Vice, as are deftructive to Mens Health, or Fortunes, or Reputation: However, this reason, be it what it will, will reach no 'farther than to fuch a degree of Virtue as will contribute to a happy and profperous life in this World, and therefore will not raise us above this World, will not teach us to defpise Riches and Honours, and Bodily Pleasures, nay, is not confiftent with a mean value, and great indifferency to prefent things, and therefore it cannot make us Chriftians; and is a very improper Argument to perfuade men to be Christians; it never made a Christian yet, and never will do.
And therefore let us not think to conquer the Deceits and Flatteries of theWorld and the Flesh, with fuch Arguments as thefe, which have no ftrength in them, which are more apt to make Men fond of this World, than to conquer it: But this is But this is our Victory which overcomes the World, even cur Faith; the hope and fear of unfeen Things, or a Future Judgment, when
God will eternally reward good men, and punish the wicked. This is an Argument in all Times, and in all Conditions: it will make us defpife the World when it fmiles and flatters, and scorn its Frowns: Here are hopes too big for thisWorld, and fears too great and powerful for its fears fuch hopes as can fupport us under the greatest Sufferings; fuch fears as can imbitter all the fweets of Sin; and therefore let us keep the Future Judgment always in our eye; let us fetch our Supports and Comforts from thence; let us oppose these Hopes and Fears against all Temptations, for here is our ftrength; all other Arguments are easily baffled, but nothing can answer the Argument of Eternal Life and Death.
Third Inference: To refer all Judgment to GOD. III.
F GOD will certainly judge the World, let us refer all Judgment to God; or as St. Paul Ipeaks, Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifeft the counfels of the heart; and then shall every man bave praife of God, I Cor. 4. 5. Nothing is more indecent nor more dangerous, than for men who must be Judged themfelves, to take God's Work out of his hands and to affume a Prætorian Power to Judge, Acquit, and Condemn whom they please, without expecting the Judgment of God: To Judge is God's Prerogative, and he will Judge the World: And what hast thou to do to judge another man's fervant? to his own master he shall stand
or fall. Why fo much hafte to prevent the Judgment of God by our rafh,ignorant, uncharitable Judgments? Judgment will come time enough for us all, and therefore judge nothing before the time.
This is fo common a Fault, and does fo much Mischief in the World, and yet is fo very unreafonable, confidering a Future Judgment, that it will be of great ufe to Difcourfe it more particularly, and if it be poffible, to correct this Mifcarriage, which is one of the greatest Plagues of Human Society.
It is very obvious to ask here, What is the fault of this? Is there any living in the World without judging of men and things? Muft we not fay, that he is a very bad man, whom we fee do very bad things? muft we not diftinguish between Virtue and Vice, and between good and bad men? Muft we not make good men our Friends, commend and imitate theirVirtues, and reject the conversation of the wicked, and beware of Knaves, and men of ill Principles and Designs? And is it not neceffary then to diftinguifh between Good and Bad Men? That is, to judge who are fo. Muft we wholly refer the Punishment of Wickedness, and the Rewards of Virtue to the Day of Judgment; and because God will judge the World, muft not Princes and Magiftrates execute Juftice, and separate between the Pure and the Vile ?
This is fo very unreasonable, so inconfiftent with the wife Conduct and Government of our Lives, and a prudent care of our felves, fo deftructive toHumanSocieties,gives fuch encouragement to wickedness, and fo confounds the diftin
ation of Good and Evil, that I need not tell any Man, that this is not meant by referring all Judgment to God: We muft judge of Men and Things as far as is neceffary to the prudent Government of our Lives, and to the Prefervation of Peace, and Juftice, and good Order in the World: This does not intrench upon a Future Judgment, nor upon God's Prerogative of being the fole Judge of the World, but is neceffary in this pre-. fent State of Things; fo neceffary, that neither publick Societies nor private Perfons can be safe without it. But then we affume fuch a Judgment to our felves, as belongs only to God, when we judge Mens Hearts, and fecret Thoughts, and Intentions, and when we pass Judgment on their Final State.
Firft, When we judge Mens Hearts, and Thoughts, and fecret Intentions: For the Heart of Man is known only to himself, and to God, who is the fearcher of Hearts; and the Counfels of the Heart will never be made manifeft, till God comes to judge the World.
Indeed no Man will pretend to know another Man's Heart; and yet it is too plain in many Cafes that Men undertake to judge of Hearts: And the great Fault in judging is, that whether Men will own it or no, yet they undertake to judge of Hearts.
Thus all thofe do, who charge Men with more Guilt than is vifible in their Actions; for if we can difcover any Guilt which is not visible in their Actions, we must look into their Hearts, and Thoughts, and Intentions, to find it.
Thus thofe do who charge men with Guilt upon account of innocent and indifferent Actions which have no neceffary Good orEvil in them, but are as they are taken, and as they were intended; and those who can find any hurt in fuch Actions, as have no intrinfick Evil and Mischief in them, muft find it in the heart.
Efpecially thofe,who judge and condemn men for the moft virtuous Actions, for the moft imitable Examples of Piety, and Devotion, and Charity, and a fevere and mortify'd Life; and call this Affectation, and Popularity, and Pharifaifm, and charge them with carrying on fome worldly and fecular Designs under the Mafque and Disguise of Religion. Now I grant this may be done, and fometimes it may be visible enough, as it was in the Pharifees; but to charge any man with this, without fome plain and manifeft indication of it, is to judge their Hearts when we know nothing of them.
Nay, to charge men with the utmost poffible Guilt, even of their bad Actions, is to judge their Hearts; for it is to fay, thatthey have done fuch a wicked Action with all the internal wickedness of Heart and Mind which fuch an Action can be committed with; which no man can fay without judging the Heart.
The fame wicked Action may be the effect either of Ignorance or of Knowledge, of Rashness and Surprize, or of mature and deliberate Counfel, of habitual wickedness, or of fome accidental Temptation, of our own free Choice, or the Perfuafions of Friends, and the Inticements of our Companions,and thePrevalency of Shame orFear: now this makes a vaft difference in theGuilt andSin,