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vulsions? Surely no; none but a madman could ever admit of such an extravagance. And yet, O wretched sinner! thou art far more wild and extravagant; for a particular good, thou throwest thyself headlong into an universal misery; and to gratify thy body in a few little things, dost utterly ruin both thy body and soul. To please thyself in one part, thou punishest thyself in all; and for the gratifying one sense, derivest a tormenting venom over all the senses of thy nature; and so, in fine, wilt have nothing but the pleasure of a taste or a touch to compensate thee for all the agonies and torments that thy body and soul together are able to sustain. And what a poor compensation this is, I leave you to judge.
3dly, The good that is in the gain of this world is convertible into evil; but the evil that is in the loss of a soul is never to be improved into good. When we are arrived to the possession of those outward goods which at present we do so greedily grasp after, it is a very uncertain thing whether they will prove goods to us or no; whether, even as to this life, we shall be the better or the worse for them. For it is very often seen that these worldly goods prove the worst of plagues to those that are the owners of them, and that those things which we account the blessings of this life do prove the curses and miseries of it. When by a thousand lies, flatteries, and circumventions, a man hath raised himself up to that pinnacle of preferment which his ambition aspired to, how often hath that height proved the occasion of his fall, by exposing him to those storms of envy and misfortune which would have blown over his head, had he sat quietly below, and been contented to enjoy himself in a more private fortune! and so when by an infinite number of rapines and oppressions, frauds and dishonest compliances, a man hath amassed together a vast deal of wealth, how often hath that proved the occasion of his undoing! sometimes by exposing him to the rapacious covetousness of others, but most commonly to the ill effects of his own extravagant luxuries. For usually when fraud is the procurer of wealth, wealth is the bawd of luxury ; this being the best expedient to drown the cry of the guilt of our dishonesty. And then by that time luxury hath produced its natural effects, it commonly leaves the wealthy possessor in a far worse condition than poverty; it leaves him so racked with the gout or the stone, so overwhelmed with catarrhs or dropsies, that the miserable man would be heartily contented to part with all his wealth for ease, and to return to poverty, so he might but return to the health of an honest ploughman; whereas would he have contented himself with the honest acquest of a moderate fortune, he need have wanted nothing but temptations to luxury, and provisions for tormenting diseases. So that in short, whilst we are pursuing this world's goods, we know not what our game will be, till we have seized on it ; peradventure, instead of venison, we are hunting a serpent, which, when we have caught, will sting and envenom us, and prove a plague, instead of a satisfaction. And is it not extravagant madness then for men to run themselves into all those miseries which everlasting ruin and perdition implies, for the sake of such uncertain goods, which when they are possessed of, for all they VOL. VI.
know, may do them a thousand times more mischief than good ? For as for those future miseries, which by our sinful pursuits of these present goods we incur, they are all such absolute and essential evils, that there is not one drop of good to be extracted out of them; for as they are eternal, they are of an unalterable nature, and the same insupportable plagues they were yesterday, they will continue to be to-day, and for ever. Indeed if we were to outlive them, they might be accidentally advantageous to us; they might discipline our natures for an happiness to come, and serve as so many toils to our future pleasures; and when they are past, the remembrance of them, like bitter sauce, might give a relish to our joys, and render them more grateful and delicious : but we being to endure them for ever, there is nothing good can succeed them, no possible advantage can be derived from them; for in miseries that have no end, there can be nothing but misery. And is it not very strange then that men should forfeit their souls to such unalterable miseries, for such goods as may be plagues to them ? when for all they know there may be such a train of mischiefs at the heels of these pleasures, and profits, and honours they are so greedy of, as may outweigh all the good of them, and render them a dear pennyworth, though they had never pawned their souls for them. And if it so prove, as it is very probable it may, then their bargain is worse than if they had pawned their souls for nothing ; because they have incurred one misery only to seize upon another, and have waded through a temporal to come at an eternal one.
4thly, The good that is in the gain of this world is mixed and sophisticated; but the evil that is in the loss of a soul is pure and unmingled. Should a man sell his soul for never so great a share of this world's goods, he would find he had gotten but a very uneasy purchase; a purchase as he can neither secure without a great deal of care, nor yet enjoy without a great deal of dissatisfaction. For what we call ours, is really ours but for our portion of expense and use; and all that is ours beyond this, is only the title and the care, and the trouble of securing and dispensing it: for let but your servants walk into your gardens of pleasure, and the air shall fan them with as gentle gales, the flowers delight them with as fragrant odours, and the birds entertain them with as ravishing melodies. And in some sense your meanest servants enjoy what you have with far more freedom than you; for your possessions are like a great harvest, which many labourers must bring in, and more must eat of, only you are the centre of all the cares, and you they fix on; but the profits run out to all the lines of your circle, who usually enjoy their several shares with much more peace and quiet than you. You take the pains to dig the well, and undergo the care of supplying and maintaining it; and when you have done, you can drink no more of it than the meanest slave about you; but what you drink cannot be so sweet and pure, because it is dashed with many more cares and disturbances. For considering the infinite hazards these worldly goods are exposed to, they must needs carry with them abundance of cares and disquietudes ; so that when you are possessed of them, you only grasp a bundle of gilded thorns, which while they please your eyes, will prick your hearts, and continually disease you in the enjoyment of them. And then for the enjoyment itself, considered abstractedly from those cares that surround it, alas ! it is such as rather creates desire than satisfaction; for though at a distance these terrestrial goods do promise us fair, and raise in us vast and boundless hopes, yet still when we approach nearer to them, we find ourselves miserably deceived. And then our enjoyment falling so vastly short of our expectation, all those swelling hopes that flattered and tolled us on, fall flat immediately under the disappointments of fruition; and accordingly, our desires missing their promised satisfactions, grow more outrageous and violent. And thus our enjoyments, as they are compassed with vexations, so are they mingled with restless discontents, as being all too little for our vast desires, which are therefore rather enraged than satisfied with them. What infinite losers therefore must those men be, who, to compass those sophisticated goods which have so many evils intermixed with them, forfeit their souls to everlasting perdition! which is so vast and so intense an evil, as will admit no degree of good to be intermingled with it; a misery so pure and unallayed, as that it totally excludes all communication with happiness, and will not admit the least hope of ease or refreshment. For what ease can we hope for in the everlasting burnings? what refreshment can we expect in the unquenchable lake of fire and brimstone ? Doubtless, we may as soon hope to find a cordial in the sting of a scorpion, or sprightly nectar in a nest of wasps, as one degree of ease or comfort in hell. There is not a gleam of light in all that region of