Sermons preached by ... Henry Hammond.
Hammond, Henry, 1605-1660.
Page  1

The I. Sermon.

EZEK. XVI. 30.
The Work of an imperious Whorish Woman.

NOt to chill your ears by keeping you long at the doors; not to detain you one minute with a cold unprofitable Preface: This Chapter is the exactest History of the Spiritual estate of the Jews, i. e. The elect of God, and the powerfullest exprobration [ D] of their sins, that all the Writings under Heaven can present to our eyes. From the first time I could think I understood any part of it I have been confident, that never any thing was set down more rhetorically, never more 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, more affection and sublimity of speech, ever concurred in any one writing of this quantity, either sacred or prophane. 'Twere a work for the solidst Artist to observe distinctly every part of Logick and Rhetorick that lies concealed in this one Chapter, and yet there [ E] is enough in the surface and outward dress of it, to affect the mean∣est understanding that will but read it. For our present purpose it will suffice to have observ'd, 1. That the natural sinful estate of the Jews, being premised in the five first Verses: 2. The calling of them in this condition, in their pollutions, in their blood, and bestowing all manner of spiritual ornaments upon them, following in the next ten Verses; the remainder is most what spent in the upbraiding and ag∣gravating their sins to them in a most elevated strain of reproof; and [ E] the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or highest pitch of it, is in the words of my Text, The work of an imperious Whorish Woman.

For the handling of which words, I first beg two postulata to be granted and supposed, before my discourse, because I would not trou∣ble you to hear them proved.

Page  2 I. That the elect chosen people of God, the Jews, were degenerate [ A] into heathen, desperate, devillish sinners.

II. That what is literally spoken in aggravation of the Jews sin, is as fully applicable to any other sinful people, with whom God hath entred Covenant, as he did with the Jews.

And then the subject of my present discourse, shall be this, That Indulgence to sin, in a Christian, is the Work of an imperious Whorish Woman. And that 1. Of a Woman noting a great deal of weakness; and that not simple natural weakness, through a privation of all [ B] strength, but an acquired, sluggish weakness, by effeminate neg∣lecting to make use of it. 2. Of a Whore, noting unfaithfulness and falseness to the Husband. 3. Of an imperious Whore, noting insolency and an high pitch of contempt.

And of these, briefly and plainly; not to encrease your know∣ledge, but to enliven and enflame the practical part of your souls; not to enrich your brains with new store, but to sink that which you have already down into your hearts. [ C]

And first of the first, That Indulgence to sin, in a Christian, is the work of a Woman; an effect and argument of an infinite deal of weakness, together with the nature and grounds of that weakness: The work, &c.

And this very thing, that it may be the more heeded, is empha∣tically [ 1] noted three several times in this one Verse. 1. The work of a Woman, in my Text, a poor, cowardly, pusillanimous part that any body else, any one that had but the least spark of valor or manhood in [ D] him, would scorn to be guilty of, an argument of one that hath suffer∣ed all his parts and gifts to lie sluggish & unprofitable, and at last, even quite perished by difusing. As the weakness of Women, below Men, proceeds not only from their constitution and temper, but from their course of life; not from want of natural strength, but of civil manlike exercise, which might stir up and discipline, and ripen that strength they have: For if their education were as warlike, and their strength by valiant undertaking, so set out; Virago's and Amazons, would be [ E] well-nigh as ordinary as soldiers. And so will the comparison hold of those womanish, sluggish, abusers of Gods graces. Then in the first [ 2] words of this Verse, How weak is thy heart?] noting it to be a degree of weakness below ordinary; as we call one a weak man, that hath done any thing rashly or unadvisedly, which, if he had but thought on, he could never have been so sottish, his ordinary reason would have prompted him to safer counsels. In brief, Any frequent, indiscreet actions, argue a weak fellow: Not that he wants strength of discretion [ F] [ 3] to do better, but that he makes no use of it in his actions. Thirdly, How weak is thy heart?] Thy heart, i. e. The principal part of the Man, (as the Brain is the speculative) the fountain of good and evil actions, and performances. Now the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 in the Original, signi∣fying the heart; being naturally of the Masculine Gender, is here set in Page  3 [ A] the feminine, out of order, perhaps emphatically, to note an unman-like impotent, effeminate heart; all its actions are mixt with so much passion and weakness, they are so raw and womanish, that it would grieve one to behold a fair, comely, man-like Christian in shew, be∣traying so much impotency in his behaviour, (even like the Empe∣rour a spinning) one who had undertaken to be a Champion for Christ, led away, and abused and baffled by every pelting paul∣try lust. 'Tis lamentable to observe what a poor, cowardly, [ B] degenerous spirit is in most Christians; with how slender as∣saults and petty stratagems, they are either taken captive, or put to flight; how easily in their most resolute undertakings of piety or vertue, they are either vanquisht, or caught. The ordinariest, coursest, had-favouredst temptation that they can see, affects and smites them suddenly; they are entangled, before they are wooed; and the least appearance of any difficulty, the vizard or picture of the easiest danger is enough to fright them for ever from any thought [ C] of Religion, or hope of Heaven.

For a meer natural man that hath nothing but original sin, or worse in him, that hath received nothing from God and his parents, but a talent in a broken Vessel, a soul infected by a crazy body, diseas'd as soon as born; for an Heathen that hath nothing to subsist on but a poor pittance of natural reason, but one eye to see by, and that a dim one; for a meer Barbarian or Gentile to be thus triumphed over by every Devil, (as an Owl by the smallest Bird in the air) might be [ D] matter of pity rather than wonder: And yet few of them were such cowards; those very weapons that Nature had furnished them with, being rightly put on, and fitted to them, stood many of them in ve∣ry good stead. There were few passions, few sins of an ordinary size, but a Philosopher, and meer Stoick would be able to meet and van∣quish: And therefore 'tis not so much natural, as affected weakness, not so much want of strength, as sluggishness and want of care; not so much impotency, as numbness and stupidity of our parts, which hath [ E] so extremely dis-abled those that take themselves to be the weak∣est of us.

The truth is, we are willing to conceive that our natural abilities are quite perisht and annihilate, and that God hath no ways repaired them by Christ, because we will not be put to the trouble of making use of them: We would spare our pains, and therefore would fain count our selves impotent, as sluggards that personate and act diseases because they would not work; or the old Tragedians which could call [ F] a god down upon the Stage at any time, to consummate the impos∣siblest Plot, and therefore would not put their brains to the toil of concluding it fairly.

Certainly the decrepitest man under Heaven (if he be but a degree above a Carcass) is able to defend himself from an ordinary Flie; 'Tis one of the Devils titles to be Beelzebub the Prince of Flies; and such Page  4 are many of his temptations; He that hath but life in him, may keep [ A] himself from any harm of one of them; but the matter is, they come in flocks, & being driven once away, they return again. Muscaest animal insolens, and the Devil is frequent in these temptations, & though you could repel them as fast as they come, yet 'twould be a troublesome piece of work; it will be more for your ease to lye still under them, to let them work their will: So in time Fly-blows beget noysomness and vermine in the soul; and then the life and death of that man be∣comes like that of the Egyptians, or Herod, and no plague more fi∣nally [ B] desperate, than those two of Flies and Lice. I am resolv'd there be many temptations which foil many jolly Christians, which yet a meer natural man that never dream't of Scripture, or Gods Spirit, might, if he did but bethink himself, resist, and many times overcome. Many acts of uncleanness, of intemperance, of contempt of supe∣riours, of murther, of false-dealing, of swearing and prophaning, that cheap, unprofitable, that untempting, and therefore unreasonable sin. Many acts I say, of these open, abhominable sins, which either [ C] custome or humane Laws make men ashamed of, and the like; the very Law of Reason within us is able to affront, and check, and con∣quer. That 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉,* as Methodius calls it, that Law born with us; Naturale judicatorium,* saith Austin against Pelagius; Lux no∣stri intellectus, say the Schoolmen out of Damascen; Nay, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉,* saith the Stoick, the promise that every one makes to na∣ture, the Obligation that he is bound in when he hath first leave to be a man, or as Hierocles on the Pythagorean Verses, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, [ D] That Oath that is coaetaneous, and co-essential to all reasonable natures, and engages them 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, &c. not to trans∣gress the Laws that are set them.* This is I say, enough to keep us in some terms or compass, to swathe and bind us in, to make us look somewhat like men, & defeat the Devil in many a skirmish. But how much more for a Christian, who if it were by nothing but his Bap∣tism, hath certainly some advantages of other men: For one that, if he acknowledge any, worships the true God; never went a fooling [ E] after Idols, which was the Original of the Heathens being given up to vile affections,* Rom. 1. for one that lives in a civil Countrey among people that have the faces and hearts of men and Christians, made as it were,*to upbraid his wayes, and reprove his thoughts; for one that is within the sound of Gods Law, and Light of his Go∣spel, by which he may edifie more than ever Heathen did by thun∣der and lightning; for one that cannot chuse but fear and believe, and love, and hope in God, in some measure or kind, be he never so [ F] unregenerate; for him, I say, that hath all these outward restraints, and perhaps some inward twinges of Conscience, to curb and moderate him, to be yet so stupid under all these helps, as never to be able to raise up one thought toward heaven, to have yet not the least atome of Soul to move in the ways of godliness, but to fall prostrate like a Page  5 [ A] Carkass, or a Statue, or that Idol Dagon with his feet stricken off, not able to stand before the slightest motion of sin; or if a lust, or a phan∣sie, or a devil, be he the ugliest in Hell, any thing but God appear to him, presently to fall down and worship. This is such a sottish condi∣tion, such an either Lethargy or Consumption of the Soul, such an ex∣tream degree of weakness, that neither original sin, that Serpent that despoiled Adam, nor any one single Devil can be believed to have wrought in us; but that 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 (as the Platonicks call it) A popular [ B] Government of sin, under a multitude of Tyrants, which have for so long a while, wasted and harassed the Soul; so that now it is quite crest-faln,* as that legion of Devils, Mar. V. 3. which dwelt among the Tombs in a liveless, cadaverous, noisome Soul; or more truly that evil spirit,*Mark I. 23. that made the man disclaim and renounce Christ and his mercies, when he came to cure; Let us alone, what have we to do with thee? By which is noted, That contentedness and acqui∣escence in sin; that even stubborn, wilfulness, and resolvedness to die, [ C] that a long sluggish custom in sin, will bring us to; and that you may resolve on, as the main discernable cause of this weakness of the heart, a habit, and long service and drudgery in sin. But then, as a ground of that, you may take notice of another, a phansie that hath crept into most mens hearts (and suffers them not to think of resisting any temptation to sin) that all their actions, as well evil as good, were long ago determined and set down by God; and now nothing left to them, but a necessity of performing what was then determined. I [ D] would fain believe, that that old heresie of the Stoicks, revived indeed among the Turks, concerning the inevitable production of all things; that fatal necessity, even of sins, should yet never have gotten any footing or entertainment among Christians; but that by a little expe∣rience in the practice of the world, I find it among many a main piece of their faith, and the only point that can yield them any comfort; that their sins, be they never so many & outragious, are but the effects, or at least, the consequents of Gods decree; that all their care, and solli∣citude, [ E] and most wary endeavors, could not have cut off any one sin from the Catalogue; that unless God be pleased 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; to come down upon the Stage, by the irresistible power of his constraining spirit, as with a Thunderbolt from Heaven, to shake and shiver to pieces the carnal man within them, to strike them into a swoon as he did Saul, that so he may convert them; and in a word, to force and ravish them to Heaven:* Unless he will even drive and carry them, they are never likely to be able to stir; to perform any the least work of reason, but [ F] fall minutely into the most irrational, unnatural sins in the world, nay, even into the bottom of that pit of Hell, without any stop, or delay, or power of deliberating in this their precipice. This is an heresie that in some Philosopher-Christians hath sprouted above ground, hath shew∣ed it self in their brains and tongues; and that more openly in some bolder Wits, but the Seeds of it are sown thick in most of our hearts, Page  6 I fear in every habitual sinner amongst us, if we were but at leisure to [ A] look into our selves. The Lord give us a heart to be forewarned in this behalf.

To return into the rode: Our natural inclinations and propensions to sin, are no doubt, active and prurient enough within us, somewhat of Jehu's constitution and temper, they drive very furiously. But then to perswade our selves, that there is no means on earth, besides the very hand of God, and that out of our reach, able to trash, or over∣slow this furious driver; that all the ordinary clogs that God hath pro∣vided [ B] us; our reason and natural conscience, as Men; our Knowledge, as Christians; nay, his restraining, though not sanctifying graces, toge∣ther with the Lungs and Bowels of his Ministers, and that energetical powerful Instrument, the Gospel of Christ, Which is the power of God unto salvation, even to every Jew, nay, and Heathen, Rom. 1. To re∣solve, That all these are not able to keep us in any compass, to quell any the least sin we are inclined to; that unless God will by force make Saints of us, we must needs presently be Devils, and so leave [ C] all to Gods omnipotent working, and never make use of those powers, with which he hath already furnished us. This is a monstrous piece of unchristian divinity; a way, by advancing the Grace of God, to de∣stroy it, and by depending on the Holy Ghost, to grieve, if not to sin against him; to make the corruption of our nature equal to nay, sur∣passing the punishment of the Devils; a necessary and irreversible obduration in all kinds and measures of sin.

This one practical Heresie will bring us through all the prodigies [ D] of the old Philosophical Sects, from Stoicks to Epicurism, and all sensual Libertinism, and from thence to the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 of the Pythagoreans. For unless the soul that is now in one of us, had been transplanted from a Swine, or some other the most stupid, sottish, degenerous sort of Beasts, it is impossible that it should thus naturally, and necessarily, and perpetually, and irrecoverably, delight & wallow in every kind of sensuality, without any check or contradiction, either of Reason, or Christianity. If I should tell you that none of you, that hath under∣stood [ E] and pondered the Will of God, wants abilities in some measure to perform it, if he would muster up all his forces, at time of need; that every Christian hath grace enough to smother lusts in the Womb, and keep them, at least, from bringing forth; to quell a temptation before it break out into an actual sin, you would think perhaps that I flattered you, and deceived my self in too good an opinion of your strength. Only thus much then, It would be somewhat for your edification to try what you could do: Certainly there is much more in a Christians [ F] power (if he be not engaged in a habit of sin) than we imagine; though not for the performing of good, yet for the inhibiting of evil. And therefore bethinking our selves, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, saith Arrian, That we are the sons of God,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Let us not have too low and degenerous an opinion of our selves. Do but endeavour resolutely Page  7 [ A] and couragiously to repel temptations as often as they sollicite thee; make use of all thy ordinary restraints; improve thy natural fear and shamefac'dness, thy Christian education, tender disposition to the highest pitch; do but hold sincerely as long as thou art able, and though I will not say that all thy sins shall be confin'd to those two heads of original (a branch of which are evil motions) and of omis∣sion; yet I will undertake, that thou shalt have an easier burthen of actual commissions upon thy soul, and that will prove a good ease for [ B] thee: Those are they that weigh it down into the deep, that sink it desperateliest into that double Tophet of obduration and despair. Fi∣nal obduration being a just judgment of God, on one that hath fill'd up the measure of his iniquities, that hath told over all the hairs of his head, and sands of the Sea in actual sins; and a necessary consum∣mation of that, despair; the first part, the Prologue and Harbinger to that worm in Hell.

'Twere easie to shew how faith might afford a Christian sufficient [ C] guard and defence against the keenest weapon in the Devils armory, and retort every stroke upon himself: But because this is the Faith only of a Wife, not as we now consider as a woman at large, but in a nearer obligation, as a Spouse, We shall more opportunely handle that in the next Part, where we shall consider Indulgence in sin, as the work of a whorish Woman; where whoredome, noting adultery, pre∣supposes wedlock, and consists in unfaithfulness to the Husband, the thing in the next place to be discovered: The Work, &c.

[ D] That Christ is offered by his Father to all the Church for an Hus∣band; that he waits, and begs, and sends presents to us all to ac∣cept of the proposal, the whole Book of Canticles, that Song of spiritual love, that affectionate wooing Sonnet will demonstrate: That every Christian accepts of this Match, and is Sacramentally e∣spoused to Christ at his Baptism; his being call'd by the Husbands Name imports:* For that is the meaning of the phrase, Isai. IV. 1. Let us be called by thy Name, i. e. marry us. That Faith is the only thing [ E] that makes up the Match, and entitles us to his Name, and Estate, is observable, both from many places of Scripture, and by the oppo∣sition which is set betwixt a Christian, and all others, Jews and Infidels, betwixt the Spouse, and either the destitute Widow, or barren Virgin; the ground of which is only Faith.

So then, every Christian at his Baptism being supposed a Believer, and thereby espoused sacramentally to Christ, and so obliged to all the observances, as partaker of all the priviledges of a Wife: doth [ F] at every unchaste thought, or adulterous motion, offend against the fidelity promised in marriage, by every actual breach of this faith, is for the present guilty of Adultery, but by indulgence in it, is down∣right a whore; i. e. either one that came to Christ with an unchaste, adulterous love to gain somewhat, not for any sincere affection to his person, but insidious to his estate; and having got that, is soon Page  8 weary of his person: or else one that came to him with pure vir∣gin [ A] thoughts, resolving her self a perpetual captive to his love, and never to be tyred with those beloved fetters of his embraces; but in time meets with a more flattering amiable piece of beauty, and is soon hurried after that, and so forgetteth both her vows and love.

Thus shall you see an handsome, modest, maidenly Christian, espou∣sed to Christ at the Font, and fully wedded by his Ring at Confirma∣tion: Nay, come nearer yet to him, and upon many solemn expressi∣ons [ B] of fidelity, and obedience, vouchsafed the seal of his very heart in the Sacrament of his Blood: Another that hath liv'd with him a long while in uniform, constant loyalty, noted by all the neighbor∣hood for an absolute Wife; a grave solemn, matronly Christian: yet either upon the allurements of some fresh sprightful sin, or the sol∣licitations of an old-acquaintance lust, the insinuations of some wily intruder, or a specious shew of a glorious glittering temptation; or when these are all wanting, upon the breaking out of an evil heart [ C] of unbelief (which some outward restraints formerly kept in) depart∣ing from the living God, profess open neglect and despight against the Husband which before they so wooed, and flattered and made love to. 'Twere long to number out to you, and give you by tale a Catalogue of those defections and adulterous practices which Christi∣ans are ordinarily observed to be guilty of, (which whether they go so far as to make a divorce betwixt the soul and Christ, or whether only to provoke him to jealousie, whether by an intercision of Grace [ D] and Faith, or by an interruption and suspension of the acts, I will not now examine) I will go no farther than the Text, which censures it here as a piece of spiritual whoredom, of treacherous unfaithful dealing, to be light, unconstant, and false to Christ; whose Spouse they are esteemed, whose Name they bear, and Estate they pretend title to. And so indeed it is, for what greater degree of unfaithful∣ness can be imagined? What fouler breach of Matrimonial Cove∣nants, than to value every ordinary prostitute sin, before the preci∣ous [ E] chastest embraces of an Husband, and a Saviour? to be caught and captivate with the meanest vanity upon earth, when it appears in competition with all the treasures in Heaven? Besides, that spi∣ritual Armor which Faith bestows on a Christian, Eph. vi. 16. suffici∣ent to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked,* or, as the Greek hath it, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 that wicked one, the Devil, methinks there is a kind of moral influence from Faith on any wise & prudent heart, enough to enliven, and animate, and give it spirit, against the force or threat∣nings [ F] of any the strongest temptation, and to encourage him in the most crabbed, uncooth, disconsolate undertakings of godly obedience. For what sin didst thou ever look upon with the fullest delight of all thy senses, in the enjoying of which, thy most covetous, trouble∣some, importunate lusts would all rest satisfied, but one minute of Page  9 [ A] Heaven, truly represented to thy heart, would infinitely out-weigh? A Turk is so affected with the expectation of his carnal Paradise, those Catholick everlasting Stews, which he fancies to himself for heaven, that he will scarce taste any wine all his life-time, for fear of disabling and depriving him of his lust; he will be very stanch from sin, that he may merit and be sure to have his fill of it. And then certainly one clear single apprehension of that infinite bliss which the Eye of Faith represents to us, were enough to ravish a world of [ B] souls, to preponderate all other delights, which the most poetical fan∣cy of man or Devil could possess us with. Were but the love of Christ to us, ever suffered to come into our hearts, (as Species to the Eye by introreception) had we but come to the least taste and relish of it, what would we not do to recompence, and answer, and entertain that love? what difficulty would it not ingratiate to us? what exquisite pleasure, or carnal rival, would not be cheap and contemptible in its presence? If thou hast but faith to the size of a grain of Mustard-seed, [ C] speak to this mountain, and it shall be removed, the tallest, cum∣bersome, unweildy temptation which all the giants in Hell can mould together, (as once they are feign'd to do the Hills to get up to Heaven, Pelion Ossae, &c.) if thou dost but live, or breath by Faith, shall vanish at the least blast of thy nostrils. The clear representati∣on of more valuable pleasures, and more horrid dangers than any the flesh can propose, certainly attending the performances, or breach of our Vow of Wedlock, is enough to charm and force us to perpetual cha∣stity; [ D] to fright or scoff all other wooers out of our sights; to re∣probate and damn them as soon as they appear: There is on this husband of ours a confluence of all infinite imaginable delights, which whosoever hath but once tasted, but from a kiss of his mouth, he is not unconstant, but sottish, if he ever be brought to any new embraces. But then openly to contemn, to profess neglects, to go a wooing again, to tempt and sollicite even temptations, to give gifts to all thy lovers, to hire them that they may come unto thee on every [ E] side for thy whoredoms,* vers. 33. of this Chapter; This is a degree of stupidity and insolence, of insatiable pride and lust, that neither the iniquity of Sodom, nor stubbornness of Capernaum, nor the Rhetori∣call'st Phrase almost in the very Scripture can express, but only this in my Text, which comes in the last place with a marvellous Em∣phasis, Imperious.] The work, &c.

In which one Epithet many of the highest degrees of sin are con∣tein'd. 1. Confidence and shamelesness in sinning, an imperious Whore, mu∣lier [ F] impudicae libidinis, one that is better acquainted with lust, than to blush when she meets with it; modesty and coyness are but infirmities rather than good qualities of youth; effects of ignorance and tender∣ness and unexperience in sin, a little more conversation in the world, will season men to a bolder temper, & in time instruct them, that this modesty is the only thing they ought to be asham'd of. 'Tis not ingenuityPage  10 but cowardise, a poor degenerous, pusillanimous humour, to go fear∣fully [ A] about a vice, to sin tremblingly and with regrets: This country disposition, or soft temper, when we come abroad into the world, amongst men, 'tis quite out-dated: Thus is impudence and a forehead of steel, grown not the armour only, but even the complexion of eve∣ry man-like spirit. He is not fit for the Devils war, that is so poorly appointed either with courage or munition, as to be discomfited by a look; 'tis part of his honour not to fear disgrace, and his reputation, not to stand upon so poor a thing as reputation. [ B]

2. Imperious,] taking all authority into her own hands, scorning to be afraid either of God or Devil, quae regno posita neminem timeat, having fancied her self in a throne, never thinks either of enemy to endanger, or of superiour to quell her; but sins confidently, & in Cathedrâ, Psal, I. 1. in state, in security, and at ease,* and never doubts or fears to be removed.

And this is most primarily observable in the Jews, depending on their carnal Prerogatives, as being of Abrahams seed; and yet thus [ C] also may we suspect do many among us, some tying Gods decree of Election to their persons, and individual entities, without any refe∣rence to their qualifications, or demeanors; others by a premature perswasion that they are in Christ, and so in such an irreversible estate, that all the temptations, all the Devils, nay, all the sins in Hell, shall never dispossess them: Others resolv'd, That God can see no sin in his children, in imitation of Marcus in Irenaeus, whose Heresie, or rather Fancie it was 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, [ D] that by the redemption they were become invisible: Upon these I say, and other grounds (how true, I will not now examine) do many rash presumers abuse the grace of God unto wantonness; never fear to sin, because they need not fear to be punished; never cease to pro∣voke God, because they are sure he is their friend; and being resol∣ved of him as a Saviour, contemn him as a Judge. Multiad sapien∣tiam pervenissent, &c. saith he, Many had come to learning enough, had they not believed too soon they had attain'd it. No such hindrance to [ E] proficiency, as too timely a conceit of knowledge: Thus might we ordinarily guess some men to have been in good towardly estates, had they not made too much hast to conceive so; and having once possest themselves of heaven on such slight grounds, such as not a solemn ex∣amination of themselves, but some gleams of their fancy had bestow∣ed upon them; 'tis no wonder if all the effects of their assurance be spiritual security, and supine confidence in sinning: they have hid their heads in heaven by their vain speculation, and then think their whole [ F] body must needs be safe, be it never so open and naked, and bare to all temptations. Nay, be they up to the shoulders in carnality, nay, earth, nay, hell, yet seeing caput inter nubila] their head is in the clouds, there is no danger or fear of drowning, be it never so deep or myrie. This was Laodice as estate,*Rev. III. 17. She fancied her self great store Page  11 [ A] of spiritual riches & brought in an Inventory of a very fair estate, I am rich and am encreased in goods, and have need of nothing: any more acces∣sion, even of the graces of God, would be but superfluousand burthen∣some, not knowing all this while, That she was wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. There is not a blessing upon earth, that can any way hope or seem to parallel a sober wellgrounded assu∣rance here, that in time we shall be Saints in Heaven; 'tis such a Para∣dise upon Earth, that Heaven it self seems but a second part of it, diffe∣ring [ B] from it rather in degrees, and external accomplishments, than in any distinct specifical kind of happiness: (The Lord of Heaven by his mighty working, when it shall please him, begin and consum∣mate it in us.) But then to make use of this Patent of Heaven to en∣gage us further in the deep, to keep us not from the Devils works, but from his attachments; only as a protection to secure our misdemeanors, not to defend our innocence: for a man thus appointed to venture on a Precipice, as the Turks, saith Busbequius,* are wont to try the good∣ness [ C] of an horse, by riding him post down the steepest hill; to out∣dare the Devil in his own territories, (as Christ is said to descend thither to triumph over him) to besiege and set upon Hell, presuming of our interest in Heaven, as of a Magical Charm, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 to keep us safe from death or maims in the midst of enemies, nay of friends; this is a piece of spiritual pride of Lucifer's own inscribing, an imperious majestick garb of impiety, a triumphant or processionary pomp, an affected stately gate in sin; that nothing but a violent rend∣ing [ D] power of the Spirit, or a boisterous tempestuous judgment can force us out of. Such a prophane Fiduciary as this, which hath even defiled Heaven by possessing it, such an Hellish Saint is like to be torn out of the third Heaven into which his speculation hath rapt him, and after a long dream of Paradise, find himself awake in Hell. And from this degree of religious prophaneness, this confidence in sinning on presumption that we are under grace; from this premature reso∣lution, that no sin, no Devil can endanger us; from this imperious [ E] whoredom, as from the danger of Hell, Good Lord deliver us.

3. Imperious] signifies more distinctly a tyrannical Lording be∣haviour, usurping and exercising authority over all. And this the A∣postate Jew and Christian Libertine doth: 1. By tyrannizing over himself, i. e. his faculties and estate: 2. Over all that come near him. Over himself, by urging and driving on in a carnal course; not patient of any regrets and resistances that a tender disposition, moti∣ons of Gods Spirit, or gripes of Conscience can make against it, goad∣ing [ F] and spurring on any of his faculties, as being too dull, & unactive, and slothful in the ways of death, even forcing them (if they be any time foreslowed and trashed by either outward or inward re∣straints) to sin even in sight of them, and hastening them to a kind of unvoluntary disobedience. Thus will a stone when 'tis kept vio∣lently from the ground, being held in a mans hand, or the like, press Page  12 and weigh towards the Earth incessantly, as if it were naturally re∣solved [ A] to be revenged on any one; to tire him out, that thus detained it from its place; nay, when it is let down, you may see it yet press lower, make its print in the Earth, as if it would never be satisfied, till it could rest in Hell. The sinner is never at quiet with himself, Instat & imperat; He is urgent and importunate upon himself, to satisfie every craving lust. Not the beggarliest affection, or laziest, unworthiest desire of the flesh, but shall have its alms and dole, rather than starve, though it be an atome of his very soul, to the utter undoing and [ B] bankrupting of him that gives it.

And for his tyranny over his estate, whether Temporal or Spiritual, his goods of Fortune, or gifts of Grace, they must all do homage to this carnal Idol. All his treasures on Earth are richly sold, if they can but yield him the fruition of one beloved sin. And for Spiritual Illu∣minations, or any Seeds of Grace, he will lose them all; and even shut himself for ever into the darkness of Hell, rather than ever be directed by their light, out of those pleasing paths of death. [ C]

A restraining grace was but a burthensome, needless encumbrance; and a gleam of the Spirit, but a means to set Conscience a working, to actuate her malice and execution on sin; and it were an happy ex∣change, to get but one loving delight or companion for them both. Let but a sin be coy and stanch, not to be gain'd at the first woing, and all these together, like Jacob's present out of all his goods, shall be all little enough for a sacrifice or bribe, to sollicite, or hire it. And this the Prophet notes here distinctly, Vers. 33. and 34. Thou art contrary to [ D] all the Whores in the World.* In other places Men give gifts to all Whores, but thou givest gifts to all thy lovers. None follow or bribe thee to com∣mit whoredoms: Thou givest a reward, and no reward is given to thee; therefore thou art contrary.

The sinner in my Text, scorns to set so low a value on sin, as that profit or advantage should ingratiate it to him; it is so amiable in his eyes of it self, he will prize it so high, that any other treasure shall not be considerable in respect of it: It is part of his loyalty and expression [ E] of his special service to the Devil, to become a bankrupt in his cause, to sell all that he hath, both God, and fortunes to follow him. It is the art and cunning of common Whores, to raise mens desires of them, by be∣ing coy, Difficultate augere libidinis pretium, to hold off, that they may be followed. Vers. 34. But this sin is not at so artificial, her affections are boysterous and impatient of delay; she is not at so much leisure as to windlace, or use craft to satisfie them; she goes downright a woing, and if there be any difficulty in compassing, all that she hath is ready [ F] for a dowry, and prostitute before her idol, Lust.

Lastly, Imperious over all that come near him, either men or sins: Everyman must serve him,* either as his pander or companion, to further or associate him. I told you he sinned in Cathedrâ, Psal. I. 1. that is also doctorally and magisterially; every spectator must learn of him, it Page  13 [ A] is his profession, he sets up school for it, his practises are so command∣ingly exemplary, that they do even force and ravish the most maidenly tender conscience. And then, for all inferiors, they are required to pro∣vide him means and opportunities of sinning, to find him out some game; and no such injury can be done, as to rouze or spring a sin, that would otherwise have lodged in his walk. It was part of the Heathen∣ish Romans quarrel against the Primitive Christians, saith Tertullian, that they drove away their Devils: These Exorcist-Christians had [ B] banished all their old familiars out of the Kingdom, which they were impatient to be deprived of. And thus careful and chary are men of their helps of opportunities to sin; it is all the joy they have in the world, sometimes to have a temptation, and to be able to make use of it; to have the Devil continue strong with them, in an old Courtier's phrase, It is their very life; and he that deprives them of it, is a murtherer.

And for the sins themselves, Lord, how they tyrannize over them; [ C] how they will rack, and torture, and stretch every limb of a sin, that they may multiply it into infinites, and sin as often at once, as is possi∣ble? Adam in the bare eating of an Apple, committed a multitude of sins.*Leo in his 86 Epist. August. de Civit. Dei. and other of the Fathers, will number them out to you.

And thus far this tyrant over Impiety and Lust, will be a Pelagian, as to order all his deviation by imitation of Adam's. Every breach of one single Law shall contain a brood or nest, into which it may be sub∣divided; [ D] and every circumstance in the Action shall furnish him with fresh matter for variety of sin.

Again, How imperious is he in triumphing over a sin, which he hath once atchieved? If he have once got the better of good nature and Religion; broke in upon a stubborn, sullen vice, that was formerly too hard for him; how often doth he reiterate and repeat, that he may perfect his conquest, that it may lie prostrate and tame before him, never daring to resist him? And if there be any Virgin modest sins, [ E] which are ashamed of the light, either of the Sun, or Nature, not com∣ing abroad but under a veil, (as some sins being too horrid and abo∣minable, are fain to appear in other shapes, and so keep us company under the name of amiable or innocent qualities) then will this violent imperious sinner, call them out into the Court or Market place; tear a∣way the veil, that he may commit them openly; and, as if the Devil were too modest for him, bring him upon the stage against his will, and even take Hell by violence and force.

[ F] Thus are men come at last to a glorying in the highest impieties, and expect some renown & credit, as a reward for the pains they take about it; and then certainly, honour is grown very cheap, when it is bestowed upon sins, and the man very tyrannical over his spectators thoughts, that requires to be worshipped for them. This was a piece of the Devils old tyranny in the times of Heathenism (which I would Page  14 fain Christianity hath out-dated) to build Temples, and offer sacrifice [ A] to sins under the name of Venus, Priapus, and the like; that men that were naturally 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, superstitious adorers of Devils, or anything that was called God, might account Incontinence Religion, and all impieties in the World a kind of adoration. Thus to profess whoredoms, and set up trophies in our eyes, to build their eminent place in the head of every way, in the verse next to my Text, was then the imputation of the Jews, (and pray God it prove not the guilt of Christians) from whence the whole Church of them is here [ B] styled, An imperious, &c.

Thus hath the Apostate Jew been represented to you, in his pi∣cture and resemblance, the Libertine Christian; and Ezekiel become an Historian as well as Prophet. Thus hath indulgence in vice among Professors of Christianity been aggravated against you, 1. By the weak Womanish condition of it; nature it self, and ordinary man-like reason is ashamed of it. 2. By the Adulterous Unfaithfulness, 1. Want of Faith, 2. Of Fidelity bewray'd in it, 3. By the imperiousness of [ C] the behaviour, 1. In shamelesness, 2. In confidence and spiritual security, 3. In tyrannizing over himself and faculties, by force com∣pelling, and then insulting over his goods and graces, prodigally mispending them in the prosecution of his lusts, and Lording over all that come near him, men, or sins; first pressing, then leading the one, and both ravishing and tormenting the other, to perform him the better service.

Now that this discourse may not have been sent into the air un∣profitably; [ D] that all these prophetical censures of sin may not be like Xerxes his stripes on the Sea, on inanimate senseless bodies; 'tis now time that every tender open guilty heart begin to retire into it self; every one consider whether he be not the man that the parable aims at, that you be not content to have your ears affected, or the suburbs of the Soul filled with the sound, unless also the heart of the City be taken with its efficacy. Think and consider whether, 1. This effeminacy and womanishness of heart, and not weakness, but torpor [ E] and stupidity, 2. This unfaithfulness and falseness unto Christ ex∣prest by the spiritual incontinence and whoredoms of our souls and actions, 3. That Confidence and magnanimous stately garb in sin, a∣rising in some from Spiritual Pride, in others from Carnal Security; whether any or all of these may not be inscrib'd on our Pillars, and re∣main as a 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 against us, to upbraid and aggravate the na∣ture and measure of our sins also. I cannot put on so solemn a person as to act a Cato or Aristarchus amongst an Assembly that are all Judices [ F] critici, to reprehend the learned and the aged, and to chide my teachers: You shall promise to spare that thankless task, and to do it to your selves. It will be more civility perhaps, and sink down deeper into ingenuous natures, fairly to bespeak and exhort you; and from the first part of my Text only, (because 'twould be too long Page  15 [ A] to bring down all) from the weakness and womanish condition of in∣dulgent sinners, to put you in mind of your strength, and the use you are to make of it▪ in a word and close of Application:

We have already taken notice of the double inheritance and patri∣mony of strength and graces, which we all enjoy, first, as Men; second∣ly, as Christians: And ought not we, Beloved, that have spent the liveliest and sprightfullest of our age and parts, in the pursuit of Lear∣ning, to set some value on that estate we have purchased so dear, and [ B] account ourselves somewhat the more men for being Scholars? Shall not this deserve to be esteemed some advantage to us, and a rise, that being luckily taken, may further us something in our stage towards Heaven? That famous division of Rational Animals in Jamblicus out of Aristotle, into three different species, That some were Men, others Gods, others such as Pythagoras, will argue some greater priviledges of Scholars above other men: That indeed the deep Learneder sort, and especially those that had attained some insight 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉in [ C] divine affairs, were in a kind of a more venerable species, than ordinary ignaro's.

And for the benefits and helps that these excellencies afford us in our way to Heaven, do but consider what a great part of the world over∣shaded in Barbarism, brought up in blind Idolatry, do thereby but live in a perpetual Hell, and at last, pass not into another kind, but degree of darkness; Death being but an officer to remove them from one To∣phet to another; or at most, but as from a Dungeon to a Grave. Think [ D] on this, and then think and count what a blessing divine knowledge is to be esteemed; even such a one as seems, not only the way, but the entrance; not only a preparation, but even a part of that vision which shall be for ever beatifical: And therefore it will nearly concern us to observe, what a talent is committed to our husbanding, and what in∣crease that hard Master will exact at his coming. For as Dicaearchus in his Description of Greece, saith of the Chalcidians, That they were〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, born, as it were, [ E] with one Foot in Learning, and both by the genius of the place and Lan∣guage, which they spake being Greek, even suckt the arts from their Mothers Breasts, at least were prepared for, and initiated in them by nature; and therefore it would be a great shame for them, not to be Scholars. So most truly of those of us, that are learned, full, illumi∣nate Christians; the very language that we speak, and air we breath in, doth naturally infuse some sacred instincts into us; doth somewhat enter us in this Spiritual, Heavenly Wisdom; will be some munition for [ F] us, and not suffer us to be so pitifully baffled, & befooled, and triumph∣ed over by that old Sophister. And if for all these advantages we prove dunces at last, it will be an increase, not only of our torments, but our shame; of our indignation at our selves, at the day of doom; and the reproach and infamy superadded to our sufferings, will scarce Page  16 afford us leisure to weep and wail, for gnashing of our teeth. And there∣fore, [ A] as Josephus of the Jews,* That they prayed to God daily, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, &c. not that he would bestow good things on them; for he did that already on his own accord, pouring out plenty of all in the midst of them: But 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that they might be able to receive and keep what he bestowed. So will it concern us to pray, and labor mainly for the preserving, that we be the better for this great bounty of Gods: That neither our inobser∣vance of his gifts, suffer them to pass by us unprofitably, and neglect∣ed, [ B] being either not laid hold on, or not imployed; nor the unthrifty mis-husbanding of them, cause the Lord to call in the talent entrusted to us already, because unworthy of any more.

It was a shrewd, though Atheistical speech of Hippocrates, That sure,*if the Gods had any good things to bestow, they would dispense them among the rich, who would be able and ready to requite them by Sa∣crifices: But all evil presents, all Pandora's Box should be divided among the poor, because they are still murmuring and repining, and never [ C] think of making any return for favours.

The Eye of Nature, it seems, could discern thus much of God and his gifts, that they are the most plentifully bestowed, where the great∣est return may be expected: And for others, from whom all the libe∣rality in the world, can extort no retribution, but grumbling and complaints; it is not charity or alms, but prodigality and riot to bestow on them. These are to be fed not with bread but stripes; they are not 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 rather beggars than poor, like Pharaohs lean Kine, [ D] after the devouring of the fat ones, still lank and very ill-favoured. And the judgment of these you shall find in the Gospel, From them shall be taken away even that which they have. And therefore, all which from God, at this time, and for ever, I shall require and beg of you, is the exercise and the improvement of your talent; that your learning may not be for ostentation, but for traffick; not to possess, but negotiate withal; not to complain any longer of the poverty of your stock, but presently to set to work to husband it. That knowledge of God which [ E] he hath allowed you, as your portion to set up with, is ample enough to be the Foundation of the greatest estate in the World; and you need not despair, through an active, labouring, thriving course, at last to set Heaven as a Roof on that Foundation: Only it will cost you some pains to get the materials together for the building of the Walls, it is as yet but a Foundation, and the Roof will not become it, till the walls be raised; And therefore every faculty of your Souls and Bodies must turn Bezaleels and Aholiabs, Spiritual Artificers for the forwarding [ F] and perfecting of this work.

It is not enough to have gotten an abstracted Mathematical Scheme or Diagram of this Spiritual Building in our Brain; it is the Mechanical labouring part of Religion that must make up the edifice; the work and toil, and sweat of the Soul; the business not of the Designer, but Page  17 [ A] the Carpenter; that which takes the rough, unpolished, though ex∣cellent materials, and trims and fits them for use; which cuts and polishes the rich, but as yet deformed jewels of the Soul, and makes them shine indeed, and sparkle like stars in the Firmament. That ground or sum of Pythagorean Philosophy, as it is set down by Hie∣rocles in his 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, if it were admitted into our schools or hearts, would make us Scholars and Divines indeed; that Virtue is the way to Truth: Purity of affections a necessary precursory to depth [ B] of knowledge, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the only means to prepare for the uppermost form of Wisdom the speculation of God, which doth ennoble the Soul unto the condition of an 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, of an heroical, nay sacred person, is first to have been the person of a man aright, and by the practice of vertue to have cleared the eye for that glorious Vision. But the divinity and learning of these times floats and hovers too much in the brain, hath not either weight or sobriety enough in it to sink down, or settle it in the heart. We are [ C] all for the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as Clemens calls it;* the art of sorting out, and lay∣ing in order all intellectual store in our brains, tracing the Councils of God, and observing his methods in his secrecies, but never for the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the refunding and pouring out any of that store in the alms, as it were, and liberality of our actions. If Gerson's definition of Theology, that it is scientia effectiva non speculativa, were taken into our consideration at the choice of our professions, we should certainly have fewer pretenders to Divinity, but 'tis withal hoped more [ D] Divines.

The Lacedaemonians and Cretians, saith Josephus, brought up men to the practice,* but not knowledg of good, by their example only, not by precept or law: The Athenians, and generally the rest of the Grecians used instructions of laws only, but never brought them up by practice and discipline: But of all Lawgivers, saith he, only Moses,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, dispensed and measured both these proportionably together. And this, beloved, is that for which that policy of the Pri∣mitive [ E] Jews deserved to be called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, by a special name, the Government of God Himself. This is it; the combination of your knowledg with your practice, your learning with your lives, which I shall, in fine, commend unto you, to take out both for your selves and others. 1. For your selves, that in your study of Divinity you will not behold Gods Attributes as a sight or spectacle, but as a Copy, not only to be admired, but to be transcribed into your hearts and lives; not to gaze upon the Sun to the dazling, nay, destroying of your eyes, [ F] but, as it were, in a burning-glass, contract those blessed sanctifying rayes that flow from it, to the enlivening and inflaming of your hearts. And 2. In the behalf of others; so to digest and in∣wardly dispense every part of sacred knowledg into each several member and vein of Body and Soul, that it may transpire through hands, and feet, and heart, and tongue; and so secretly insinuate Page  18 it self into all about you; that both by Precept and Example, [ A] they may see, and follow your good works, and so glorifie here your Father which is in heaven: that we may all partake of that blessed Resurrection, not of the learned and the great, but the just; and so hope and attain to be all glorified together with him hereafter.

Now to him, &c. [ B]